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Summary: I know I need to change, I am painfully aware of the chasm between what I am in Christ and how I appear to be but all of my diligent effort actually takes me in the opposite direction. Rules do not produce obedient hearts; rules breed rebellion.

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Dakota Community Church

October 2, 2011

Grace Transforms 4

Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.

1. What is biblical grace?

2. Where does grace originate?

3. Grace transforms; but how?

Colossians 1:9-14

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul tells the Colossian Church that He is praying for what we all want - changed lives!

He wants them living worthily, pleasing God with their lifestyles, bearing fruit, growing, becoming stronger, more tenacious, patient, joyful and thankful to God.

Who doesn’t want that?

So we read the passage and others like it and we do what?

WE GET BUSY - We miss where Paul says the power for that transformation is found!

Grace Transforms:

A. When the gospel is central.

B. When the gospel is not turned into law

C. When we understand the great exchange - substitutionary atonement

Jesus died on the cross in our place suffering the just punishment that was due to us.

He absorbed the wrath of God for us who believe.

Like Abraham we believe and Christ’s righteousness is imputed or credited to us.

It is a gift; no one can boast.

What is the source of that righteousness? - The sinless life of Christ

Jesus lives a sinless life for us, we do not - we cannot - stand before God in anything less than holy perfection, so He gives us His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Matthew 5:17

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

He fulfilled the law - that is the righteous life credited to our account.

It’s all about Jesus and what He has done.

There is nothing whatsoever about the gospel that encourages us to focus on ourselves - nothing.

What about examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith?

TO SEE WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE FAITH!

There is a tremendous amount of Christian narcissism, Christians who are absolutely fixated and obsessed with how they’re doing.

Spiritual naval gazing - how am I doing, Am I good enough, am I doing everything right?

We do it under the guise of pursuing holiness and practicing godliness and sanctification. But the fact of the matter is we are obsessed with ourselves.

The good news is that our relationship to God has nothing to do with our performance and everything to do with Christ’s performance for us.

We naturally drift into performance mode - it is the fallen human default setting. We think, "My good behavior generates affection from God, and my bad behavior generates so His anger. So God’s relationship to me is ultimately dependent on how I’m doing."

Grace tells us that God’s acceptance of us is not gained by our successes or forfeited by our failures because it’s not about us.

Grace Transforms:

D. When we enter His rest

Here is the incredible twist.

I know I need to change, I am painfully aware of the gaping chasm between what I am in Christ and how I appear to be.

All of my diligent effort actually takes me in the opposite direction.

Rules do not produce obedient hearts; rules breed rebellion. My hard work is counterproductive.

Hebrews 4:9-11

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

How many would describe the Christian life as restful? Why so few I wonder?

Could it be because the overwhelming message being generated by the church today is: "Do more, try harder"?

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