Summary: The ungrace of the world does not nullify the Grace of God. (#5 in the "Every Spiritual Blessing" series)
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. ”
Redemption: to bring back into rightful ownership (restoration to one who possesses a more fundamental right or interest) by the paying of a price, or ransom. Buying back a slave or a captive, making him free by the payment of a ransom.
By the time we are done today, you may feel as though my sermon was misnamed. This is largely a sermon on God’s grace; it is necessary that we approach this subject and handle it carefully and thoroughly. But please remember throughout, that in saying, “...according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us”, Paul is referring to our redemption back to God, through Christ’s blood.
We’ll see the connection as we go.
There was once a young preacher who was fairly certain he had it all figured out. He had a pretty good handle on the scriptures. He could clearly see the enormous gap between what the Bible said about how things should be, and the actual condition of the world around him.
He took some measure of pride in the fact that since his salvation, he had stopped all of his bad habits from his former life. He no longer smoked, never used any bad language, and hadn’t had any alcohol to drink for a long time.
He taught and preached godly living. Christians should live like Christians and not be the bad witness that they so often proved to be, in their un-Christ-like behaviors.
When this young preacher counseled it was without compassion. When he preached it was with fervent, impassioned exhortation to put away sin and stand up for Jesus.
He didn’t know how much people were hurting inside. He didn’t realize that in the privacy of their own homes ~ their own hearts ~ they were sad and weary and uncertain of their acceptance with God.
He didn’t realize that so many of the things he was exhorting them to do, they themselves wanted to do but were finding themselves weak and unable to do consistently, and their failures plagued their burdened minds and had many of them ready to throw in the towel and give up.
Then the time came that this young preacher fell from his own high standard. Tired and weak and stressed-out himself, he let himself be lured into one of the enemy’s oldest and most successful traps for men in full-time ministry; and in the end he had no job, lost his wife and family, and found himself on his own.
The same lack of grace that had so characterized his own ministry now followed him like a snapping dog. The church that he served in kicked him out, telling him he was going to lose his salvation. For the next six years the leadership of every church he attended made it clear to him that he would always be a second class citizen there because of his past; and he eventually stopped trying to fit into Christian circles altogether.
Interestingly, he never stopped believing the gospel message. He never for a moment doubted the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s word. But, coming to the conclusion (with the help of the pious, God-fearing, clean-cut pillars of the church with whom he came in contact) that he was no longer acceptable to the church or to God, he went his own way, building a new life and lifestyle that did not include the church at all, and now there was no Christian influence in his life at all, apart from the Holy Spirit, who, it turns out, was always there, guiding, whispering, waiting for just the right moment to begin the healing process.
In His book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace”, Philip Yancey traces his own search for grace; What is it, really? Where can it be found? Why does it seem to be so lacking both in and outside of the church?
He said, “As I look back on my own pilgrimage, marked by wanderings, detours, and dead ends, I see now that what pulled me along was my search for grace. I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else.”
I don’t believe I have to build much of an argument to convince people that there just isn’t much grace being shown in the world today.
When murderers attacked our country and killed so many people one hour in September, for a time there was much grace being shared. People from New York to San Francisco; Corpus Christi to Bangor, came together as one in shock, then in sorrow; in sympathy and patriotic resolve.