Summary: This sermon is part of our "What We Believe" series and explores at what God's grace means and looks like in the life of a believer by using the acrostic of the word itself, G.R.A.C.E. It also looks at the difference between grace and mercy.
What We Believe
“It’s All About Grace”
Today we’re continuing in our series on what we as Christians say we believe in. The heart of this series is the belief that we have to get back to, and understand the basics of our faith. And so today I’d like to look at one of the most beautiful doctrines of the Bible, and what our salvation is completely and totally based upon, and that is, God’s grace.
Complete the following phrases:
• “If it sounds too good to be true … It is
• “We make money the old-fashioned way, we … Earn it
• “There’s no such thing as a free … Ride/Lunch
• “No pain … No gain
• “God helps those who … Help themselves
Everything about the American way of life teaches that we get what we earn, that there are no free rides or lunches, and that we lie in the bed of our own making. This is because America is all about hard work and elbow grease. America promotes that we get what we deserve, and that if we want to make something of our lives, then it is up to us, or “If it’s meant to be it’s up to me.”
This is the American work ethic. If we want to get ahead, we’re going to have to work for it. And although there’s nothing wrong with this sort of work ethic, in fact, it’s a good ethic to have, but the problem we should have with it is that God doesn’t operate in accordance to this ethic when it comes to salvation. And because of this work ethic people have found it difficult to understand and come into a saving relationship with God, because we ‘ve come to believe that we have to earn our way to heaven.
King David was one person who understood the full extent of God’s grace. He said,
“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.” (Psalm 145:8 NKJV)
David says that God is a gracious and compassionate God. But what does that mean?
The standard definition for grace is “God’s unmerited favor.” And that’s correct. God loves to bless all who don’t deserve it, which includes every one of us.
Grace is a part of God’s nature. That’s why it’s important for us to understand His grace, because the more we understand God’s grace, the more we’ll be drawn to God and love Him for it.
So, what exactly is grace? To answer that question, we must first differentiate between God’s grace and God’s mercy. This is mainly because we tend to confuse them or hold the same meaning for both. But they are different.
Here is the basic definition for each. “Mercy,” is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve, and that is, punishment. This is where someone says something like; “I throw myself upon the mercy of the court.” It’s that they are guilty and are requesting from the judge leniency instead of jail time.
“Grace,” on the other hand is when God gives us what we don’t deserve, and that is His blessings. It is where we deserve punishment for our sins, but instead God gives us the blessing of forgiveness, salvation, and heaven instead.
There are Christians who say they know God’s grace, but unfortunately they are living in an alternate reality. While they were saved by God’s grace, they are trying to earn God’s approval by the way they live; something the Apostle Paul called foolish.
“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 NKJV)
Since it is by grace that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9), it is therefore by this saving grace that we are to continue to live out our lives as Christians. But even in saying that I need to be careful, because the Bible teaches that as Christians we do have responsibilities. But doing these things is not what makes us acceptable to God. It is only by faith in God’s grace. And when we truly get this reality, then we’re going to find true freedom.
So, what is God’s saving grace? To explain, let me use an acrostic using the word itself: GRACE. It is “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” And while this is true, it doesn’t explain it completely. Therefore, I’d like to look at each of these letters to give a more complete definition.
But doing it this way reminds me of a story about how a Yale professor decided to explain to the incoming freshman what a Yale student is by using Yale as an acrostic, saying that Yale students are Young, Adventurous, Loyal, and Enthusiastic. Unfortunately, he took over an hour and a half in his presentation. After his presentation was over he asked a student in the front row what he thought, and the student said, “I’m just glad I didn’t go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”