Summary: This message deals with the power of grace that is present in a believer’s life NOW.
THE GIFT OF GRACE
TEXT: 2 COR. 6:1,2 “We, then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
INTRODUCTION: God has began to teach me new things about grace – its power and its purpose. To be honest, grace has primarily existed in my mind as a basical abstract Christian theology. I believed that God had saved me “by grace, not of works lest any man should boast”. I could look back to January the 20th, 1988 and remember the day that God’s grace set me from a life of sin and gave me the right to become of child of God. Nevertheless, from that day forward, grace remained something that had happened to me in the past. I was trained in my early Christian walk to be disciplined, to work hard, and to maintain obedience to standard Christian duties. I developed a lifestyle that increasingly became more rigid. My prayer time had become longer. My fasts for sure had to extend over longer periods. Witnessing had to be done more often – any place I went I ‘must not’ miss an opportunity for God. As time passed this disciplined life transitioned into a Christian experience that was no longer joyful or fulfilling. The standards that I had set for myself were no longer obtainable. The Tony Colson who once believed he could conquer the world now walked around conquered by the world. I was miserable. I was becoming overwhelmed with temptations, failures, and fears. Where had this “life and life to the full” escaped to? My heart could have cried out, “Oh joyful salvation - you that preacher’s preached about and singer’s sang about – where have you hidden?”
As I continued on this course of fears and temptations I found myself falling into sin more often and more grave. This confident, zealous Christian was quickly becoming overwhelmed with defeat. Time doesn’t permit to share particulars concerning this journey. Nonetheless, at the moment when I had no where to look but upward this grace that had visited me on January 20th, 1988 came shining through the clouds of darkness that held me in such bondage. Presently, Grace is becoming much more than an abstract theology or a past experience with God. Therefore, my intention this morning is to share with you this revelation that is changing my personal relationship with Christ.
Let me encourage everyone in this building not to tune me out. The enemy would love to give you an excuse not to hear this message of grace and freedom. Some of you have already made a decision in your mind that you don’t need this message because you have already been saved. I challenge bring your mind to this time of confrontation with God’s Word. This message is especially for those of you who have already encountered the Christ and yet now your relationship for -whatever reason - seems strained, dull, or out of place. Some of you have been sidetracked in your pursuit after God – you have adopted some wrong theologies and a wrong understanding of proper Biblical standards. I believe that God is present to introduce a fresh, new relationship with Him that will be “life and life to the full”.
I. GRACE IS NOW!
2 COR. 6:1,2 “We, then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
An important point to the context of this verse must be addressed. First of all, the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. On several occasions throughout this work he addresses his readers as Christian believers. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 he calls them brethren and later acknowledges that is by faith that they stand. Then, in chapter three he states that clearly they are ‘an epistle of Christ’. The question that I bring to you this morning, “To whom is verses 1 and 2 in chapter 6 written?” Was it to the believers in the church of Corinth? Or was it to the sinners in the city of Corinth? I suggest to you that this is written to believers. It is true that this passage has been primarily used to influence the response of a non-believer during revivals and evangelistic services. Nevertheless, I believe that Paul is dealing with much more than attempting to inspire his readers to make a decision to believe on Christ. Both before and after this text, Paul addresses readers as his beloved. If this text was written to believers what does Paul mean when he says, “do not receive the grace of God in vain”? I admit I cannot prove that it is written to non-believers or to believers. But for today I would like for us to approach grace in its relationship to us who are believers.