Summary: Jesus offers us Grace and Mercy! Will we accept these gifts?
February 12, 2012
VIDEO - HOMECOMING from Youtube
How Do You Respond? When I first saw this, it put a lump in my throat. How about you? We think "sweet forgiveness, bring it on!" But, maybe for others it puts a different lump in your throat, and you question, "Where's the justice, bring that on!"
Maybe for many of us, paradoxically, it creates both feelings. It puts 2 lumps in our throat. And interestingly enough, I believe that is what grace does. It creates both feelings. Let me say it this way, GRACE — demands nothing of you, but will persuade you to give it all away. If you want the gift of grace, it's yours for the taking. It demands nothing, it’s literal definition is “UNMERITED FAVOR.” That means we receive something we don’t deserve. That’s grace!! But, grace will also lure you into giving everything you have. And it’s this kind of grace we find in Ephesians 2.
In the passage we are going to look at, Paul, masterfully portrays what it means to live by grace -- this offensive, radical, disturbing gift of God. I want to examine this gift by looking at 2 aspects of grace.
The first and primary aspect is NEED. Why is there grace in the world? For 2 reasons, firstly because God is in the world and secondly because there's sin in the world. And wherever there is sin, grace is ready to deliver. Some may not accept grace -- but it's there for the taking. We all need grace.
To grasp grace, we need to understand our deadness. It’s a spiritual deadness Paul is talking about. Listen to his words from Ephesians 2,
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Paul is describing people who are without Christ. And notice that Paul includes himself, you and me in that category. We seek to satisfy the cravings of our sinful nature. We follow the ways of the world as opposed to the ways of the Spirit. In the end, Paul explains, we become objects of wrath.
So, the greatest need all people have is the realization that without Christ we're dead. Of course we’re really alive, we’re breathing, walking and talking. But without Christ, we really are spiritually dead.
Spiritual deadness doesn’t mean God has abandoned you and doesn’t care about you. Being spiritually dead means you’re so wrapped up in your life and you’re continually seeking to gratify only yourself. You don’t care what God or anyone else has to say, you want to satisfy your wants and your wants alone. It’s all about you. Even if you call yourself a Christian, it’s still pretty easy to fall into the trap of immediate personal gratification, believing the world only revolves around you.
Of course, you do know who the ruler and spirit of the kingdom of the air is, don’t you? It’s satan. He’s the one who deceives you. He wants you to believe the lies he’s telling you so that you don’t believe God is important, only you are important, only you know what you want, only you know how to satisfy your wants, only you matter, he constantly repeats in your mind, ‘it’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all about me.’ And his list of lies goes on and on.
Paul writes it’s Christ who gives us life. Without grace -- without Jesus -- we can't sustain our lives. Without Jesus, we keep putting our deepest needs in the shallow end of the pool and we never get satisfied. And that’s where the amazing gift of grace comes in. The first aspect is admitting our need for grace. This opens the door for us to receive the gift.
The 2nd ASPECT OF GRACE IS – GRACE IS A GIFT
Probably one of the best-known verses of Scripture lays this out in verses 8 and 9. But wait! We have to start at verse 4. When you read Paul, you’ll notice the word, but. I call them THE BIG BUT. So many times, Paul tells us about our sinful, natures, then he says BUT. . . and this BUT brings us the great gift of grace.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.