Summary: Without God’s grace, their is nothing that we can do on our own to enter heaven. This sermon encourages us to choose to accept God’s grace
The year was 1992 I was playing baseball at Campbell (the fighting camels). I was playing shortstop a position I had played for about 13 years. I was fielding balls keeping my bottom down and I have to admit I thought I was a pretty good fielder. Yet all my life I had struggled with my batting. It wasn’t that I could not make contact with the ball. Rather it was that I just did not have a lot of power. I was not strong enough. In my whole career as a ball player I hit 5 homeruns and 3 of them were inside the park homeruns because I had speed with my feet but not power with my arms. So one day as we were finishing up practice the coach came up to me and said “your just not good enough.” Your decent but that’s all. You better start thinking of another career. I don’t remember anything else the coach said except for the words “your not good enough” How do those words feel when they are directed to you? Are you excited saying Hey thanks I’m glad you told me that I was really worried that I was good enough. Hey thanks for the lift. I was really down today, but man now I am ready to go.
No, that’s not how we react. We react the same way as those on American Idol who are told that they just are not good enough. We might go into a rant, we might cry, we might question, we might just stand their shocked. Those words can cut deeply. They hurt. But sometimes it’s the truth. I was not good enough to play professional baseball. This morning as we continue our journey in GRACE, I want to share with you that you and I without Grace are not good enough. We are not good enough to get into heaven on our own. It takes a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
You say, Chris why are we talking about being saved in a room full of Christians. We’ve been baptized, we have made that walk down the aisle. Well maybe you have, but just because we are in church does not mean that we are here today with a room full of Christians. Baptism is not what get’s a person into heaven. We are not saved by the act of baptism, but the act demonstrates that we are saved. It shares with the whole world a beginning of a new relationship that should be continued for the rest of our lives. You see the reason I say this is because there are troubling statistics that are out their. I was reading the other day an article in a journal the other day from Billy Graham. What he said caused me to stop and think. Have you ever seen Billy Graham’s crusades on tv or been to one. Well there is this large crowd of people that come down to accept Christ as their lord and Savior. What troubled me with this is that Billy Graham said that 30% of the people that accept Christ at his crusades are on a church roll somewhere and claim that they have been baptized.
What causes this? I think that it is because this society honestly believes that just good works will get you into heaven. Or just a walk down the aisle into the pool and out the door will be good enough. Yet, that is not what Christianity is all about and that is not what Grace is all about.
And that is why we need grace. In the passage before this Romans 3:10-18 Paul tells us that we are simply not good enough to get into heaven alone. We need grace. Paul says an astounding 5 times that there is no one, no not one that is righteous without God. Paul says he doesn’t care if we are clean cut, have a crime free record, work like Mother Teresa, have passion like Paul. There is no one in this world that is perfect and good enough to get into heaven on their own. Rather it requires us to admit that we are not good enough and to humble accept God’s gift of grace.
Think about the song Amazing Grace by John Newton. The opening words of the song say Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a WRETCH like me. Some people have made the mistake that this word is the same word as RETCH but they are totally different. Whereas RETCH is something that happens when you have bad Chinese, the word WRETCh means someone who is miserable and in a self imposed exile. Yet think of how we sing that song:
Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound that Saved a WRETCH like ME. We sing it like being a wretch is not a big deal or some happy giddy feeling. But for some people it has become such a strong word they have asked to take it out of the hymn and replaced with something less offensive. But it’s in their because John Newton thought of himself a WRETCH. After all he was a slave trader before he became a preacher and he abused people and he felt miserable in life and basically felt and was a wretch. Someone viewed with contempt and annoyance.