Summary: God initiates our salvation for a purpose. What is that purpose?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
October 23, 2005
Dr. Marilyn S. Murphree
“Thankfulness Moves Us to Action”
INTRODUCTION: If you were found lying along the side of the road dead, WHY
would you go to heaven?
You have probably heard people say about someone, “I know he will get to heaven because he was a “good person.” He helped his neighbor, always paid his bills, was good to his family, never was in trouble with the law, was a church member...
Someone once told me, “I think I’ll make it to heaven because I have put more good things into the scale than bad things and they should tip the scales on the side of going to heaven. Others say, “I’ve lived a good life--better than a lot of Christians so I think I will make it.”
All of these good traits are admirable, but what does the scripture say about getting to heaven? So then, “If you were found lying along the side of the road, dead, WHY would you go to heaven?”
Paul is talking to the Ephesians in chapter two and saying, “You were once dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live. You didn’t know any better. You used to live the way the world lived. That’s the way all of us lived and didn’t give it a second thought, but then something happened. God stepped in and offered us something better.” Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture concerning God’s purpose for our lives.
1. Salvation Not of Works: Paul states that becoming a Christian is not of our own doing even though we may try to win God’s favor and impress Him with our goodness and our good works. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” We are all in the same predicament. We could try our hardest to live up to a set of rules, try to be the best person possible and still fall short of doing enough. We might be able to do ENOUGH of some things and not ENOUGH of other things. And how do we know when we’ve done ENOUGH? That’s the difference between religion and Christianity. In religion we are always trying to do ENOUGH to win God’s favor.
Paul said, “You are not able to do that. You can never be good enough, or do enough. And because of our inability to achieve our own salvation, Paul points the way to God’s plan. He says, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves--it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.”
What does the GRACE of God mean?
Grace is the unmerited or undeserved favor of God.
It means that God DOES give us what we DON’T deserve.
Most of us have a difficult time comprehending this idea because the world thinks differently. We probably do too.
Story: A little boy was late coming home from school every night. He was always late for supper and finally his parents said, “if you don’t get here on time this afternoon, you won’t get any supper.”
That day he got home later than ever. At supper he looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water and nothing else. He knew this was the consequences he deserved. It was his own fault. He looked at his father’s full plate--roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy.
His father waited for the full impact to sink in and then he quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. Then he took his own full plate and placed it in front of the boy. Then he smiled at his son.
The message got through. Years later his son said, “All my life I’ve known what God’s grace is like by what my father did for me that night.”
We would probably say, “I would have let him eat the bread and water. The father thought he could make a more lasting impact another way. God’s grace is like this to us. Grace is a matter of giving people something good that they DO NOT DESERVE. Paul is telling the people at Ephesus, “God gave that kind of grace to you.” He is telling them that God has supplied everything--even the faith they need to believe is the gift of God.
You might say what if God’s grace doesn’t work? What if people just keep on doing wrong? That is where God just keeps trying over and over until we get the message.
In scripture we often see the terms GRACE and MERCY packaged together. In this same chapter, verse 4, he says, “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in MERCY made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by GRACE you have been saved.”