Summary: Second message explaining "church words." As the title states, this message explains the word "grace."
Those Confusing Church Words Series Ephesians 2:8-10 “Isn’t Grace What We Say Before We Eat?”
We’re talking about "Those Confusing Church Words."
Last week we talked about sin.
We defined sin as "any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature."
Today, we’re going to talk about another confusing church word - GRACE.
If you ask a child what grace is, you might hear him say, "Grace is what we say before we eat."
And that’s true.
We do call that prayer before we eat "grace."
But for many, that’s about as far as the definition of grace goes.
Most of us have heard that acrostic for grace "God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense."
That’s a nice way to remember the basics of what God’s grace actually is.
But grace is much more than that.
Some have called it "God’s unmerited favor."
One man said that "grace is what God does within you, without you."
Dr. J. H. Jowett defined it like this: "Grace is holy love, but it is holy love in spontaneous movement, going out in eager quest toward the unholy and the unlovely, that by the ministry of its own sacrifice it might redeem the unholy and the unlovely into its own strength and beauty."
This is really a concise definition of grace, but even Dr. Jowett realized how far short he had come in trying to define grace.
To simplify the meaning of grace we could say that grace is God’s undeserved blessing to an undeserving people.
Grace has its origin in God’s heart of love.
It is given to undeserving sinners.
Notice I said "sinners", not Christians.
We Christians get confused by God’s grace and often think it’s reserved for us.
It’s not. God pours out his blessing, his unmerited favor, his holy love, on sinners: saved and unsaved alike.
The Bible says that people who sin deserve death. (Romans 6:23)
Not only do we deserve physical death, we deserve to be eternally separated from God.
But God doesn’t send a lightning bolt down from heaven to zap us every time we sin.
As a matter of fact, God is quite patient with us.
Not only does he NOT zap us with lightning bolts, He blesses us.
Now, you might ask, "How can a holy God continue to give blessings to sinners who deserve only death?"
That’s where grace comes in.
God is a God of grace.
Grace is something that gives joy, pleasure, delight.
It gives God pleasure to bless us.
God delights in giving us pleasure.
Do you have any idea how extensive God’s grace is?
I. God gives us lots of things for no other purpose than to bring us joy and pleasure.
Look at nature.
Do you have any idea why God made so many colorful flowers?
And why did God give birds the ability to sing?
Look at God’s color scheme - blue skies with large fluffy white clouds; green grass; beautiful yellow dandilions and wild-flowers.
And what about those lightning shows when it rains?
And the rainbow that follows the storm?
God’s grace brings us things of beauty that we generally take for granted.
God didn’t have to give us all that beauty to enjoy.
We certainly don’t deserve it.
Especially when you look at what we are doing to God’s creation.
We pollute his air, we pollute his rivers and oceans, we destroy his earth; we are not very good stewards of his stuff.
But, the flowers continue to grow, the birds continue to sing, the sky is still blue, the grass is still green, and we still have all those dandilions.
I’ve often wondered if that hole in the ozone layer isn’t just God’s way of getting rid of all the pollutants we dump into the atmosphere, just so we don’t suffocate ourselves.
These things are reminders that the goodness found in all of His creation is due to God’s goodness and compassion.
That is grace.
II. God grace also allows us to have lots of material blessings.
Verse 1 says, "...you were dead in your transgressions and sins."
Dead people don’t collect much stuff.
Now, I realize that you might think I’m taking that first verse out of context, but here’s the point.
Verses 2 and 3 clarify what I mean.
They say that we used to follow the ways of the world.
Our desire, and this may still be the desire for some, is to gratify the cravings of our sinful nature.
One of the biggest desires of the sinful nature is to get stuff.
The more stuff we get, the better we feel.
But, who gets the credit for giving us all that stuff we have piled in the basement, and the attic, and in the garage?