Summary: No matter how badly we blow it, or how unlovable we feel, God’s grace is more than enough to change us & make us new.
The Simplicity of God’s Grace
Intro: Life can seem pretty complicated. Relationships, problems, bills, debts, kids, parents, siblings, politics, taxes… these can all tangle together into a big blurry mass of confusion and complexity. But there is something that should always remain uncomplicated: the way God loves us. The way God loves us is so simple that it confounds us, amazes us, and just blows us away. But please remember this:
Prop: God’s amazing grace is amazingly simple.
TS: Acts 15 gives us a few clear signals that show us how simple God’s grace really is.
I. God’s Grace Travels Light (Acts 15:1-2)
1Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." 2This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
-There is not supposed to be a whole lot of baggage strapped onto the message of God’s grace and forgiveness. Why do people always try to add something to what Jesus did on the cross for us? It is not Jesus + good works = salvation. It is not Jesus + attending the right church = salvation. It is not Jesus + believing the right doctrine = salvation. Jesus + anything does not equal salvation.
-When people try to do math with God’s grace, it presents a distorted picture of who God is and what He expects from mankind. Should we do good works and attend church, and believe the right things? Yes, but salvation is a free gift from God and cannot be earned or deserved.
-We cannot qualify God’s grace by saying, “It only works, if….” The only conditions for receiving God’s grace are faith and sincerity. Receiving God’s grace means entering into a relationship, not signing some cold contract that contains hidden clauses and additional requirements. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Having said that, let me also say that true faith results in action. Faith without action or (works) is called dead faith in the Bible. The action of faith is obedience to God’s revealed will, and to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
-So, be careful if you hear someone adding clauses to the good news about Jesus. Romans 10:13 says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." That sentence does not end with a comma, or a dash, or a conjunction of any kind. It ends with a period. Secondly…
II. God’s Grace Is a Cause for Celebration (Acts 15:3-4)
3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
-Those who were concerned with codes, regulations, and methods are not shown celebrating in this passage. Come to think of it, you don’t read about them sharing the good news about Jesus either. The only time you hear about them is when they are trying to make salvation more difficult than it really is.
-The believers in the churches, however, were very glad when they heard about the salvation of the Gentiles. They were connected with God’s heart enough to know what made Him happy.
-Last week I made reference to the prodigal son, or lost son from Luke 15. After this disrespectful, wasteful, party animal had burned all his bridges and came crawling back to his father whom he had disgraced, the father’s response was phenomenal! He threw a party for this son who was lost. It didn’t matter that he smelled like pigs, he had come home! It didn’t matter that he had become a homeless bum – the lost son had been found and was now home! Not everybody was excited as the father, but not everybody loves the way the father loves. God’s grace that brings lost people home is amazing! It is a cause for a celebration. Luke 15:10 says “There is joy [and rejoicing] in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents."
-God’s grace is a cause for celebration, and we should never stop celebrating. That’s why we can sing v.4 of Amazing Grace and mean it! When we’ve been there 10,000 years bright shining as the sun; we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun. God’s grace doesn’t get old or worn out. His mercies are new! Let’s keep celebrating His grace!