Summary: Sometimes our apprehension of God’s grace is only skin deep. It only touches the temporal and not the eternal.
Embracing Grace – Part 2 – Skin Deep Grace
Introduction and review
Last week I introduced this sermon series and the key concepts concerning grace. For those of you who were not here, I urge you to get the audio tape or cd and get on the same page as the rest of us.
Let me quickly review our key term Grace: the underserved, un-merited favor of God.
Grace isn’t just getting something you don’t deserve, it goes beyond that to getting something gracious in spite of you doing something extraordinarily bad.
We are going to look at grace at a much deeper level than just an intellectual level, but rather on the level of how it impacts our lives.
Ask Bill and Grace to come up to the front. Tell them to hug each other. “see, Bill understands how to embrace Grace!”
This series is entitled “embracing grace” because as I read through various Christian authors and teachers, I find that there is quite a discussion about what kind of role WE have in the scheme of being saved.
I find that there are some who say “Oh, you are saved by grace alone” and others who say, “it is grace plus obedience” and still others who say, “It is grace plus baptism” or “grace plus works.” Others say “sure you’re saved by grace but you go to work to keep it.”
I rather imagine the average Christian wading through these varied opinions would be pulled one way and then another as they struggle to make sense of each of the arguments that people make for their point of view.
It is very important for us to believe the “right thing” about grace. I want you to understand that there are consequences behind what we believe. What we believe influences how we behave and live.
Believing something that is just 90% true will have profound effects on your life.
Being off by 10 degrees may not seem like much, but as you multiply your journey over miles and years, it will lead you far from your intended goal.
So when I teach that we are saved by grace alone, I do not want to say that we have no role or responsibility in the process of grace working in our lives. There are a few key things we need to know about our role:
We are not the initiators of our salvation: God moved first, while we were still sinners.
The bible is clear that God sought us, we didn’t’ seek Him.
We are not able to earn or merit our salvation. It is God’s gift alone. Totally free and undeserved.
The bible says that God’s love is a gift, not something we deserved or earned.
But we do have a role in how grace works in our lives.
Our role in salvation lies in how we respond to God’s grace.
When we “embrace grace” we are responding to God’s graciousness and kindness instead of simply absorbing it passively like a rock.
I want to use an illustration of a plant in contrast to that of a rock.
When we embrace God’s grace, we are like a plant that is responding to the sunlight and rain that God gives freely to it.
It grows and uses the grace (sunlight, rain, co2) to produce fruit.
Would the plant grow much less survive if it weren’t for the sunlight and the rain?
Of course not. The plant is totally dependent upon it!
So when you and I respond to God’s grace, we are “embracing God’s grace,” we are allowing it to work its supernatural power in our lives.
One of the most poignant pictures of this is found in Luke 17:11-19
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14 When He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine--where are they? 18 "Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" 19 And He said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well (sozo – saved you)."
Jesus is passing through the border country between Samaria and Israel. Along come ten leprous men, who because of their disease, stand at a distance and plead for mercy.