Summary: It is GRACE that seperates Christianity from the rest of the world’s religions!
Date Written: April 12, 2007
Date Preached: April 15, 2007
Where Preached: OZHBC (AM)
Sermon Series: The Doctrines of the Faith
Sermon Title: What is the Grace of God?
Sermon Text: Eph 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (NKJV)
During the middle part of the 20th century at a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a vigorous debate about what is so unique about Christianity.
There were those who suggested that Christianity was set apart from other religions by the concept of the incarnation, the idea that God took on human form in the person of Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, there are other faiths that believe God appears in human form.”
There were others who suggested that it was the resurrection, that death is not the final word. But then someone slowly shook his head and said that there were other religions that have accounts of people returning from the dead.
It was at this time in the story that the great theologian C.S. Lewis, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, walked into the room. Lewis was a little early for his presentation so he sat down and joined the debate that was already in progress. He saw that things were getting a bit testy and during a lull, he spoke up ans asked, “What’s all the rumpus about?”
Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.”
“Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s grace.” And when he said that, the room fell silent. Lewis continued on in saying that Christianity has a unique claim that God’s love comes free of charge with no strings attached. Lewis cited that there was NO other religion on earth that could make this claim.
And after a moment of shocked silence, one of the scholars in the room commented that Lewis had a point. He stated that the Buddhists, for example, follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment, theirs is NOT a free ride.
He also informed the crowd that had gathered that Hindus believe in karma. Which means that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you, and thus how God sees you; that there is nothing that comes to you not set in motion by your actions.
Another scholar spoke up and observed that the Jewish code of the law implies God has requirements for people to be acceptable to Him and that in Islam God is a God of Judgment… that He is NOT a God of love. In Islam you live your life to appease His judgment!
At the end of the discussion everyone concluded Lewis had a point. And it is true, only Christianity dares to proclaim God’s love for humanity is unconditional.
It is this unconditional love that we as Christians call grace. We Christians boldly proclaim that God’s Grace really has precious little to do with us, our inner resolve, or our lack of inner resolve.
BUT, grace is all about God and God freely giving to us the gifts of forgiveness, mercy, and love.
Contributed by: Martin Dale on SermonCentral.com and modified for effect by myself
But knowing that it is grace that separates Christianity from the rest of the world’s religions, it begs the question…
“Just what is grace?”
Well, the Greek word for grace is “charis” and it basically means that we (Christians) ‘are receiving something that we do NOT deserve.’
Now this is just the opposite of the Greek word for ‘mercy’ (eleeo - el-eh-eh’-o) which basically means that we (Christians) ‘NOT getting something that we DO deserve’ such as hell.
The North American Encarta Dictionary defines grace as noun in the following ways…
• A title used for addressing royalty or the clergy such as a duke, duchess or archbishop
• It is also defined as elegance, politeness, generosity of spirit, as a prayer at meal time, a pleasing quality
• The final two definitions for grace (the noun) were gift of God to humanity…A Christian concept meaning, the infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to humanity by God…
• It is also defined as freedom from sin… Another Christian concept, the condition of being free of sin, by way of repentance to God [for those sins]
The North American Encarta Dictionary defines grace as transitive verb in the following ways…
• It means to contribute pleasingly to an event by attending it… thus we get the phrase “grace us with your presence”