Summary: The Grace of God is absolutely necessary because of man’s inability
How great the Father’s love for us that causes Him to love a stenchful retch like us
There once was a Pastor who on a particular Sunday morning preached a fire and brimstone sermon regarding Hell and he warned sternly chastised the congregation that unless they repented of their sins they would spend an eternity burning in hell’s fire. Although it was viewed as a “downer” of a sermon, most in the congregation just shook it off as something preachers have to do from the time to time, you know, to remind his flock that hell is a real place. But little did they know the following Sunday the preacher would preach again on Hell and he went on and on how many in his congregation would spend an eternity there unless they repented? The preacher proceeded to preach the same sermon for the next twelve weeks. Each week it was “you are going to Hell unless you repent, you are going to Hell unless your repent” Finally, the church has had enough of the fire and brimstone routine and they dismissed the Pastor. After a short search they found a new Pastor and the congregation soon began to fall in love with their new Pastor. A friend of one of the members, who was privy to the history of the old Pastor, asked what types of sermons was the new Pastor preaching and to the friend’s surprise the member said, “Oh, he is preaching fire and brimstone messages just like the old Pastor. Every week he is telling the congregation unless we repent we are going to Hell.” The friend was a bit bewildered by this revelation, because this was the very reason they had dismissed the previous pastor. The church member, sensing the bewilderment of her friend, interjected, “When the first Pastor told us we were going to hell unless we repented, it was devoid of anguish, of heartache, of sadness, it was like he really didn’t care, but when our new Pastor told us we sensed he was telling us because He cared, it was like it grieved his heart that we would miss heaven unless we repented of our sins. Life repeatedly teaches me people do not really care how much you know until they know how much you care so it is with this background in mind that I stand before you today
It is my earnest desire for HMBC to be all that God desires for it to be in 2008. 2007 is quickly fading behind us and we cannot afford to live or dwell in the past but we must move forward from this moment forward and purpose in our hearts collectively to be all that God has decreed for 2008. In a message I have entitled, “How deep the Father’s love for us that causes Him to love a stenchful retch like me.” (I know, I know, the title is a bit wordy but it is my desire that God will speak to you nonetheless). I believe the story of the resurrection of Lazarus as recorded in John 11:32-44 by the Apostle John is a foreshadow of what happens to every believer spiritually as God enacts His plan of salvation. I invite you to follow along with the sermon outline in your bulletin and jot down any thoughts the Holy Spirit may bring to your mind as we explore how Jesus interacted in the life of Lazarus. Will you please stand for the reading of God’s Word?
When we speak of the Grace of God most of us easily understand that it means God’s provision of unmerited favor. That understanding while correct is incomplete, you see, there is a human component, if you will, that we have to participate in if grace is to be all that God has designed it to be. The Greek word for grace is charis and the imagery behind charis is the Greek notion that whenever a statue or picture or drama is good or beautiful, it would naturally evoke an appropriate and appreciative response on the part of the beholder. The same way we should response to the supreme goodness and magnificent beauty of God’s gift of grace. So in the N.T charis refers both to the favor, blessing and goodness God extends to undeserving creatures and also to the appropriate and thankful response of those who receive grace to the One who gave it. Today we will look at four aspects of grace which will empower us to properly response to God’s lavish gift of grace into our lives.
A. First we will realize God’s call of grace is always necessary because of man’s inability
Introduction: All across pulpits and places of worship today sermons will be preached that extols the greatness of man. The Mormons teach we can become like God. New Agers teach we only have to realize the god in us. Oprah Winfrey encourages her listeners to embrace the god all around them, be it music or poetry or whatever the latest fad is. Joel Osteen will have you practice seven keys which will enable you to reach your full potential, albeit with a price of you buying one of his books or attending one of his seminars. There are countless other examples I could give you where God is marginalized and man is exalted. Oh yes, many will evoke the name of God in their teaching and preaching but He is never given the preeminence He so richly deserves. It is so easy for believers to buy into the culture of the world and think we are entitled to wealth, health and prosperity. It is so easy to believe you deserve the best. False teachers use Bible verses like1 Peter 2:9 when it proclaims, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation but again that is only half of the story because Peter goes on to say in that same verse that” you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” So again, we can see grace is not complete unless there is an appropriate and appreciative response behind it. God has not redeemed us so we can demand prosperity no! He has redeemed us to proclaim the praises of Him. I would submit to you the greatest enemy to the church is not the devil, as he is only a Spirit of influence; nor is it the world and all the temptations it has to offer. No, the greatest enemy to the church and mankind has always been and will always remain: self. If you want to talk about what we deserve then the only answers I find satisfactory are death and damnation. I believe the text reveals three reasons God’s call of grace is always necessary because of man’s inability.