Summary: Focusing on the grace of God, this sermon explores four reasons the gospel is good news.
Last week I shared four awakenings that prepare a person to receive the gospel. Gospel means “Good News.”i When a person has been awakened to the four realities we talked about last week, the Gospel comes as good news. Without those awakenings the Gospel is little more than an interruption. If I am drowning and I know it, then it is good news to be grabbed by a lifeguard and pulled to shore. If I am just taking a swim, then leave me alone! People must know their need before the offer to meet that need has much significance.
The four awakenings are generally progressive, but not absolutely so. (1) Awakening to the Existence of God (2) Awakening to Moral Accountability (3) Awakening to Personal Transgression (4) Awakening to Pending Judgement. The purpose of the Law is to awaken us to our own sinfulness and the consequence of that sinfulness. The Law is perfect and that perfection is not attainable by mortal man.ii We all come short of the demands of the Law. Therefore, we all stand guilty before a holy God. No matter how hard we try to do good, we fall short. Bottom line: The Law is designed to bring us to the end of ourselves—the end of our own sufficiency; the end of our self-righteousness. The Law is designed to bring us to the foot of the cross and show us our need a Savior.
The Gospel is good news because it tells us a Savior has come. Jesus has come and paid the penalty for our sin. He offers to us forgiveness and acceptance before God.
My subject today is the Gospel of Grace.
I. The Gospel is good news because it offers salvation that is free.
Free is good. People flock to a store that offers something free. When someone offers me something free, I’m very careful about receiving it because what people say is free is not always free. I think that is sometimes people’s response to the gospel. This gospel sounds is too good to be true. When you really, really hear Paul’s gospel of grace, it sounds too generous, too merciful, too magnificent to be true. But, in fact, it is true. John Newton called it “Amazing” grace—“how sweet the sound.”
Eternal life is free to all who will receive it in Christ. Rom 3:24 “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”iii Being justified means you are declared not guilty before the throne of God. An easy way to remember the meaning is to think of justified as just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross you can be forgiven of your sins and made right with God freely—as a gift of grace; no strings attached.
The Greek word translated grace is charis. We get our word Charismatic from it because charisma is a gift of grace, an undeserved benefit. Grace is the undeserved, unmerited favor of God. It is the lovingkindness of God expressed toward people absolutely free. Its only motive is the bountiful love and benevolence of the Giver.iv John 3:16 lays the foundation for our understanding of grace. “For God so loved….” That is the one and only motive behind grace. “God is love”; that is His nature. And grace flows out of His nature.
Grace is love expressed in a particular way. It is favor extended without any expectation of return.
Joseph Cooke was a missionary to Thailand a generation ago. He illustrated grace this way. Picture a happily married couple in which both husband and wife are all that either could ever wish the other to be. The husband always respects his wife’s feelings, always treasures her individuality, is never unkind, never overbearing. He never forgets their anniversary, he is a model father to their children, helps with the housework, is genuinely and sincerely concerned about her happiness and welfare. She, for her part, returns respect for respect. She anticipates his needs, provides a home that is a haven of rest for him, never nags, never undermines him. She supports and encourages him on a regular basis. The love between them is always there. It is genuine, unmistakable, and free. It flows back and forth between the two of them effortlessly and magnificently.
But what about grace? There is no occasion for it! Both husband and wife are so perfectly loveable that each could scarcely help but love the other. Now suppose that one of them falls victim to a horrible disease. This disease causes his body to break out in putrid sores; the smell is almost unbearable. Not only that, but it also brings on fits of depression and irritation. He is unable to care for himself, let alone contribute to her happiness. In his pain and frustration he becomes demanding and obnoxious.