Summary: A powerful series based on the book "Grace: More than we Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine." The series will look at the many different aspects of Grace. Final Message on Christmas Eve.
December 24, 2012
Well, if you haven’t bought a gift for someone yet, I suppose you can still go to the Internet and buy a gift for someone and show them the receipt that you bought them a gift before Christmas day. It just will not arrive before Christmas day.
Gifts, don’t you love them? Honestly, we all do! It’s Christmas Eve and we can’t lie, we can’t tell a little fib, we all enjoy receiving gifts. I tell Debbie, don’t get me anything, but secretly I want something, anything but a lump of coal and a stalk of celery will do. I don’t want anything extravagant, I want to be thought of. I think that’s the real point. And I know Debbie will always get me something, so I’m not worried.
Do you know what you’re going to receive this year? You see, we think of gifts and go shopping and hit the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales hoping to get the best of the best deals. And sometimes we will even regift. We’ll take a gift someone else gave us and because we don’t like it or need it, we regift it and give it to someone else.
For the past 2 months, we’ve been talking about God’s grace. In short, grace can simply be defined as ~
Grace - receiving what we don’t deserve.
Mercy - we don’t receive what we deserve.
They sound like the same thing, but they really aren’t. You see, in grace we receive something, namely Jesus, eternal life, hope, forgiveness, peace, power, the Holy Spirit, and more. We receive all of that and more which we DO NOT deserve. We don’t deserve it because we’re sinners. We’ve messed up, but when we believe in Jesus, God doesn’t seeks ot have a relationship with us and forgive us, and we receive what we don’t deserve.
On the other hand, mercy means we don’t receive what we deserve. You see, this is the negative side of things. When we receive God’s mercy we don’t receive what we deserve, like death, eternal separation from God, condemnation, God’s wrath and anger, unforgiveness.
For the next few minutes I want to remind you about the components of the word grace.
Firstly, in grace, Gifts are given
At it’s core, at its very root, salvation is a gift, we don’t earn it, we can’t do anything good to receive it. It’s a gift. You have been saved by grace through faith, through believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Hard work, amazing work, costly work, selfless work . . . will not get you there, His work is what matters, not ours. We tell our kids to work hard, but hard work does not earn us salvation and heaven, God does the work.
I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases what Paul said in Romans 5:20 - where sin increased, grace increased all the more. Peterson describes it saying, we receive the aggressive forgiveness of God called grace.
Isn’t that a great way to describe God’s grace, He aggressively forgives us. Imagine if we did that for others. So, when grace happens we move from takers to givers. We find ourselves able to love even unlovable people. We can’t out give God, as God pours His love into our hearts through Jesus. So, not only do we receive gifts from God, we also learn . . .