Summary: Grace is God giving us what we do not desereve. But do we really understand the magnitude and wonder of God’s grace?
I would want to concentrate this evening on verses 42-45 of this passage. From those verses I would say: God wants us to live in His grace: He wants us to receive, experience and enjoy His grace and He wants us also to express His grace in our lives. Can I repeat that?
God wants us to live in His grace: He wants us to receive, experience and enjoy Hid grace and He wants us to express His grace in our lives. Here we have the very heart of the Christian Gospel: a Gospel which is summed in Mark 10:45
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many
The word ‘ransom’ means that the Lord Jesus Christ came to set us free. he came to set us free from sin; free from its guilt and its power and eventually, in glory, from its very presence is our lives. Romans 3:23 reminds us that all have sinned. All of us. Our human condition is sin and sin results in separation from God and in his condemnation on sin. Yet Jesus came into this world not to condemn but to give us that which we can never deserve. He did this by giving up His very life and his very life-blood that we might walk free from condemnation. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus- so Romans 8:1.
There’s a shocking boldness in this. There was a shocking boldness in Jesus’ association with the tax-collectors (Matthew was in his band of 12; he visited Zaccheus, and his grace turned Zaccheus’ life around). He associated with the prostitutes and set them free from the bondage they lived in. His grace scandalised the religious leaders of the day and it’s scandalised many in the Christian church. It scandalises and offends our human pride and dignity. We feel that there is something we can do; something we can do to earn God’s favour and the idea that there is nothing can scandalise and does scandalise and offend. The Roman Catholic doctrine is that we earn salvation- through faith in Jesus Christ, yes, but it’s faith plus works, plus good deeds. This concept bound the church in the Middle Ages. It bound Martin Luther. He became a monk to please God. He lived that life of self-denial to please God but as time went by he became ever more tormented by his conscience and by his concept of a distant, law-giving, vindictive God. He nearly went insane. Eventually he made a pilgrimage to Rome to win favour. Flagellation. That surely would please God. Then he saw a crucifix and the words of Scripture The just will live by faith. In a blinding flash Luther saw God’s grace He saw that that figure on that Cross had given himself that he, Martin Luther, might be free!
American authors Dorothy and Gabriel Fackre wrote this:
Luther was overwhelmed by this Good News: God accepts the unacceptable! God loves the unlovely! Those pointing fingers of Christ that he saw as he looked up were really outstretched hands at the end of open arms, reaching to lift us up. Christ so welcomes us with infinite tenderness. The hard Work done on Calvary is all there, right now for us. All we have to do is accept it with trust. And so we are declared righteous (just) before God.