Summary: This sermon seeks to help us visualize some important truths about Grace. I used it as a "Grace 101" type of message.

NOTE: I preached this sermon for the first time a few years ago. I have tried to track down A SOURCE (even if it wasn’t’ the original source) for the illustrations used

"BIG IDEA": Passages like Ephesians 2 and Luke 14 remind us that God freely and continually gives His Saving Grace to anyone who will receive it by faith and help us to SEE what grace is like.

READ Ephesians 2:4-9

From time to time something unexpected happens when I ask for help finding something in a store. Occasionally the clerk will not only tell me where to find what it is I’m looking for—he or she will show me.

If that’s happened to you, you know that there are times you really don’t need that kind of help. And yet you also know that there are times when it really comes in handy.

Although it’s not in response to a question Jesus does something like this during a banquet at the home of a Pharisee (READ Luke 14)

A few months ago I met with some people in our congregation to gather ideas for helpful sermon topics. One topic that came up a number of times was grace.

So in January I want to try to address some of the questions raised in our discussion. As I prepared this series I concluded that one thing it would need to include was a "Grace 101" type of sermon.

Passages like Luke 14 and Ephesians 2 show us that God freely and continually gives His Saving Grace to anyone who will receive it by faith and help us to SEE what grace is like.

It is not by accident that Luke includes Jesus’ words about counting the cost of discipleship right after his Parable of the Great Banquet. Christians need to hear Jesus’ words about discipleship because they challenge the notion that we can call ourselves Christians and make Jesus our spiritual adviser rather than Our Lord. We also need to hear Jesus’ words because they help us to clearly see the cost of grace.

Living gracefully, in the grip of grace, cannot happen unless we count the cost of discipleship and lay hold of God’s gift. In today’s message my plan is to follow Jesus’ example by helping us SEE what grace is like. Having shared elements of this message before this may feel like a review for some—which is certainly something we need from time to time. Sometimes we need to get back to Grace 101 to see other things in our life more clearly.

TRANSITION: The way grace is described in Ephesians 2 and other places helps us to SEE grace in terms of forgiveness.

Billy Graham was driving through a small town when he was stopped by a policeman for speeding. Graham knew he was speeding and admitted his guilt but was told by the officer that he would have to appear in court

The judge asked Graham for a plea to which he said, "I’m guilty." "That will be ten dollars", said the judge, one dollar for everyone mile over the limit. You’ve broken the law, he continued, and the fine must be paid. But I’m going to pay the find for you. Taking his wallet out of his pocket the judge attached it to the ticket, gave it to the clerk, and took Graham out to dinner. That, said Billy Graham, is how God treats repentant sinners [, cited from Progress Magazine, December 14, 1992).

In the early 1800’s when Napoleon led France to war against Great Britain he found it necessary to establish a draft. Men were drafted into the army by a lottery system. When someone’s name was drawn he had to go off to battle. There was one exception to this. A person could exempt if another was willing to take his place.

On one occasion the authorities came to a certain man and told him he had been drafted. He refused to go saying, "I was shot and killed in battle two years ago." At first they questioned his sanity, ut he insisted that this indeed the case.

"How can that be?" they questioned. "You are alive now!? He explained that when his name came up, a close friend said to him, "You have a large family, but I am not married and nobody is dependent upon me. I’ll take your name and address and go in your place." And that is indeed what the record showed.

This rather unusual case was referred to Napoleon who decided that the country had no legal claim on that man. He was free. He had died in the person of another. Jesus willingly took our place, taking on himself the penalty of sin. [

Seeing grace in this way turns our thoughts to 2 Corinthians 5:21

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