Summary: Paul records free gifts God gives to us through His grace.
GRACE TO YOU
INTRODUCTION… Tenacious Grace, Cries from the Cross, Leighton Farrell 1994
A lot of what God had done throughout history hasn’t seemed fair to people. Why did God not denounce Jacob for his conniving ways? Why did God not disown David for his disgraceful actions? Why did Jesus not condemn the adulteress for her open disregard of the moral laws? Why did God not disavow Peter after his blatant denial of Christ in the courtyard? Why was Paul not banished by God forever because of his persecution of the Christians early in his life? Why? That is the question: Why? And the answer is because there is nothing in the world so tenacious and resolute as the grace of God. The Gospel of John tells us: "God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17)
Grace is one of the key attributes of God. Grace accompanied the love of God that fueled the redemption plan. Grace accompanied the compassion that God has when He dealt with His people throughout time. Grace accompanies the peace that He continually gives His people. And what is Grace? If it is indeed one of the key attributes of God, we should attempt to understand it. Grace, especially in Scripture, can be seen as kindness shown without regard to the worth of the one who receives it and in spite of what the person deserves. The VBS program we recently had (Standard Publishing 2001) defined grace as: God’s riches and Christ’s expense. I love Exodus 34:6 which says, “[The Lord God is] merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abounding in goodness and truth.”
READ EPHESIANS 1:3-12
This passage this morning gives details about God’s grace. It records for us several gifts that God has given us, all because of the good grace of God. Verse 3 calls them “spiritual blessings.” All of these gifts come after the phrases, “according to the good pleasure of His will, according to the riches of His grace, according to His good pleasure, according to the counsel of His will.” All of these gifts are at God’s discretion and are given to us freely.
I. ADOPTED INTO GOD’S FAMILY (V. 4-5)
One of the greatest gifts God has given as an expression of His grace is the salvation of
the nation of Israel. He chose a people to carry His message and to be His family. He did not have to do this, but chose to do it freely; it was part of His plan. He chose Abraham to begin this process. In Jesus’ day and later when Paul wrote to the churches, it was possible to become “part of Abraham” spiritually even though you were not a Hebrew by birth. The book of Romans (among other passages) shows us that the family of God is those who follow after God in faith, just as Abraham did. The family of God is a spiritual family. Galatians 3:29 calls those who believe “Abraham’s seed…heirs according to the promise.” Therefore, the family of God is a spiritual family bound together by faith.
One gift that God has given us is the opportunity to become part of the family of God. This privilege is open to all people of all races of all languages. And make no mistake; it is a free gift that can be opened by faith and obedience to His commands. 1 John 3:10 tells us plainly that the children of God are seen as those who practice righteousness and love their brother. We have the opportunity to be adopted into the family of God and receive all the blessings that come along with it.
II. ACCEPTANCE AND REDEMPTION (V. 6-7)
Acceptance and redemption is the next gift given “according to the riches of His grace.”
Such redemption is found in Christ- not merely through Him, but by coming to live in Him. The Old Testament provides the background of our understanding. Leviticus and Numbers provide for the redemption of land or people that had become the property of another. More than that, the Old Testament describes the people of Israel a redeemed people. They had been slaves in Egypt and God redeemed them. Later, they were enslaved again in Babylon because of their sin and God again saved them. The fundamental idea of redemption is the setting free of a thing or a person that has come to belong to another. In all of these situations, a price is paid to regain the person or property or land.
There has been a price paid for the redemption of the human race. The price, as verse 7 tells us, was the blood of Jesus Christ. This gift of acceptance and redemption actually cost God something. The blood of Jesus Christ paid for the freedom that we enjoy from the guilt of sin. Hebrews 9:22 quotes Leviticus 17:11 saying, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” It cost Him His one and only Son and He still gives this gift freely.