Sermons

Summary: God's Grace

Surpassing Riches

Ephesians 2: 5-10

Listen to the response of people to one song. An opera singer said, “There’s a kind of wonderful calm that I feel when I sing this, a kind of uncomplicated feeling, the way one felt as a child.”

Johnny Cash said that this was, “a song with no guile…straight ahead, honest, gut level and heart level. When I sing that song, I could be in a dungeon, or I could have chains all over me, but I’d be free as a breeze.”

Judy Collins said, “It was always the song that gave me an inner experience of another dimension. I always feel that there’s a mystical territory between me and the audience.”

Marion Williams a gospel singer says, “It gets to most everyone. It gets to the heart of men.”

At his 91st birthday party, Dewey Williams said, “I feel good. I just can’t help it when I get to singing that song; It just do something to me.” (prison & beach)

In a Huntsville , Texas, prison, an inmate says, “I couldn’t hardly sing that song and get through, you know, four verses of it without chocking up…all I could do was just be humming and crying.

A Harlem choir boy says of his reaction to the song: I feel like I’m walking on a beach, and like wind is hitting me and stuff like that. That’s how I feel about it. Not like a rough wind; like a soft wind, just coming by, like a breeze.”

What could get such a response from such a varied group of people? What song could move so many different souls? It is a song that has spoken to the souls of so many for so many years. It is John Newton’s hymn, Amazing Grace.

While on the "Trail of Tears," the Cherokee Indians were not always able to give their dead a full burial. Instead, they sang a translation of Amazing Grace. There have been over 3000 published recordings of this song; it is the largest such collection of a single musical work in the recorded sound collection of the Library of Congress.

The full breadth of the collection is revealed by the great range of performance styles: big band, blues, classical, country, ‘easy listening,’ electronic, folk, gospel, different styles of jazz, ‘novelty,’ operatic, pop, rap, rock, rhythm ‘n’ blues, soul, and various ethnic, or ‘world music,’ styles.

The wide array of performers include children’s groups, religious ensembles, concert bands, bagpipers, steel guitarists, famous soloists and American Indians.

The song is about God’s grace. God’s grace is a doctrine of the highest value, revealed in its fullness in the pages of the N.T. Some of those ideas are described in the Book of Ephesians.

Eph 2:5-10 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly place in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Christianity is the only religious view that has salvation by grace. Hinduism is a works system. It demands progressive lives to achieve salvation by a process of works through reincarnation.

Janinism which is also found in India is one of the most severe systems of legalism in the world. Only the strong can be saved.

Confucianism emphasis the wisdom and efforts of man.

Buddhism is just another form of Hinduism that includes the discipline of figuring things out by observation.

In Islam ones salvation is never certain but there are all kinds of works that must be done to earn Allah’s approval.

The same is true of other cult groups.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are trying hard to earn favor by following the instructions of Headquarters and distributing WatchTower material.

Mormons baptize for dead people, do temple duty, mission work and other works to make it to various levels of heaven.

The Moonies are out selling flowers and all kinds of panhandling.

Hare Krishnas are just evangelistic Hindus.

Grace is something shown or received but it is not earned. Author, Phillip Yancey quotes a prostitute who was down and out in Chicago. She was asked if she had ever thought about going to church. Shockingly, she replied, “church!

Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. That would just make me feel worse.”

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