Summary: We must realize that we are saved by grace and not by performance?
TEXT: Ephesians 2:8, 9
TITLE: THE GRACE OF GOD
(A God Who Is Always Gracious)
As kids, we are taught that if you want something, you have to earn it. As adults, we know that if we want a sales award, we’ve got to go out and sell. If we want a promotion, we have to put in the long hours. If we want to succeed – be it vocationally, athletically, or financially – we’ve got to cover ourselves with this work ethic and make success happen for ourselves.
Based on this understanding many have lived their lives attempting to please God by doing good and being good. Their diligence pays off in other areas as well – grades and athletics – so wouldn’t it work in faith? So the question is asked: How does God grade performance? What’s the quota of good deeds, and how do I know if I’m passing or failing?
Many get the idea that if they commit one sin they have to go all the way back to the beginning and start all over again. Or they think that they will never be good enough for God.
What needs to be realized is that even your most righteous acts – your Sunday best – are like filthy rags.
We must realize that we are saved by grace and not by performance?
Are you trying to climb a spiritual performance ladder, not realizing that the ladder will never reach to God? If so, I’ve got some great news for you. God is gracious or He is a God that gives grace.
Psalm 103:8 – “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” This Scripture as much as any in the Bible shows us a picture of who God is.
God’s grace can change your life. When people think of someone as being “gracious,” they usually think nice, tolerant, sensitive, that type of thing. “Oh, what a gracious person.” “What a gracious host or hostess.” But what does the Bible mean when it speaks about grace?
Bound up in who God is is an inclination to bestow benefits on undeserving people. “Nice” humans might experience an occasional desire to bestow a benefit on a very deserving person – say a boss gives a productive employee an extra day off; a hardworking student gets an extension on his paper; behaving children get to enjoy an ice cream cone on the way home from Grandma’s.
But God’s grace comes from an entirely different planet. No common blood flows between God’s grace and human grace. God’s grace is an extraordinary as human grace is ordinary. To understand this, you must first understand the relationship of Justice, mercy, & grace.
Let’s say you’re walking down your driveway to pick up the morning paper, and you notice the 15 year old kid who lives a couple of houses away. He doesn’t have his driver’s license yet. He has “borrowed” the family car without permission, and he’s backing out of the driveway in a rushed and careless fashion. You’re concerned because you know he doesn’t have his license, and you’re also concerned because you know there’s trouble in that household.
So you watch and you listen to the tires squeal and you see the car lurch forward; the kid’s head is just barely peeking out over the steering wheel. The car is all over the road, and then it jerks to the right and plows through your mailbox, your bushes, and the fence that you built last summer. As the cloud of dust settles, you see the boy step out of the car with a slightly embarrassed look on his face, and you’ve got a decision to make. You have 3 choices.
Your first choice is to treat him with justice. You can give him exactly what he deserves. “All right kid, you messed up, so I’m going to call the police and they’ll cite you for driving without a license. After that I’ll call your parents to tell them what happened. And then you’re going to have to get a job to pay for my mailbox, my bushes, and my fence.
If you treat the kid with justice, you’re not a bad person. You’re simple giving him exactly what he deserves – no more, no less.
However, you might choose a second option: mercy. Mercy is giving somebody a little bit less that he deserves. You say, “I’m not going to call the police, but I am going to call your parents, and we are going to establish what the mailbox costs, what the bushes cost, and what the fence costs, and you’re going to pay.”
If you do that, the kid ought to be very thankful because, instead of applying strict justice, you are choosing to be merciful. He’s getting less punishment that he deserves.