Monday 13 November 2023

Turn with me in your Bible to Paul’s Letter to the Ephesian Church in Chapter 2.  verse 8.


My subject this week is all about ‘grace’ which has been seen as an acronym for great results at Christ expense.

 Grace is an old English name embracing many subjects. A female name; prayer before a meal; a refined way of action; but for us, a glorious act of God.

 From the words of Scripture, we read of a basic foundational meaning of the Christian faith.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.

 Paul is writing this Letter from a prison cell where he is awaiting his execution. He knows his ministering days are over, and wants Timothy, who has been on missions with him. to take on his work .  Paul has planted Churches in countries of the ancient world, and built up a Christian presence which he does not want to fall apart.

 When  talk is made about grace, inevitably the adjective ‘amazing’ is added. This is due to the beautiful hymn, which is one of the greatest hymns ever written, a world favorite due to its meaningful words and glorious tune. Despite its popularity, it is so rarely preached upon, even though grace is an essential part of Christianity. You may hear what might be called basic grace, but a full explanation should be desired.

 The question arises, what is amazing about grace?  It is the favor of a loving God, which He pours upon those who seek to follow Him, and live according to the manner He has laid down in the words of Holy Scripture, secured for us in the Bible. It is a free gift which cannot be earned. Undeserved, Unmerited, freely given.

 God loves all people, and wishes to save them, but because our human nature is adapted as people feel they are able to have complete control over their lives.  This caused God to state that we are all sinners in that. some way we failed to keep the ten Commandments, and failed to take the teaching in the Bible, or the teaching and commands of Jesus as a proper way of life.  We have all broken in some way a Commandment, and they are like a chain which is broken, if just one link is broken the rest of the chain falls apart.

 We may not steal, murder, commit adultery, but there many things which fall short of what is expected of us. Taking  some small item of stationery from an office, destroying a person’s reputation by the tongue, hating, being malicious, telling a lie with whatever motive, viewing a member of the opposite sex with lustful thoughts. If you can avoid just committing any or just that few, you are indeed righteous.

 But God can be grieved when we are disobedient, and we become condemned and become children of His wrath.  The wrath of God is not like man’s which is revealed in bad temper, aggression, malice or animosities.  Like an earthly father will take come salutary action to remind us we have been found out, our heavenly Father may chastise us.

Paul moves from God’s wrath to the mercy and love of God, and we see what He has done for us by saving us in order we may see the riches of heaven.

 Grace is the reason God sent Jesus into the world. This was God displaying His care for the world, He created.  Since the first man and woman born into the world, human beings have been sinners. God being a God of justice, must demand that anyone admitted to heaven, had to be cleansed of their sin. As sinners cannot pay the penalty for our wrong doings, God sent His only Son to die on a Cross, and in so doing His blood shed, was the means by which, that all who repent of their  confessed sins, could by His grace, be forgiven if they accepted that Jesus paid their penalty, and would receive in faith Lord Jesus as their Savior. Grace is God’s part, faith is ours

 We read to learn how because of our salvation. God will show His grace and kindness in Christ Jesus, and by His kindness will tell us the foundational words of Christianity, salvation, grace and faith. Salvation means more than forgiveness, it is deliverance from death. It means new life in Christ, with whom we have been made alive.

 We cannot do anything ourselves to earn that salvation, we are granted God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

 By grace, refers to God’s favor upon those who have transgressed His law, and sinned against Him.  But can also be understood to be a power in these verses, for God’s grace not only offers salvation, but secures it. Save refers to deliverance from God’s wrath at the final judgement, for by grace you have been saved tells you the Christian’s salvation is fully secured. Through faith means a confident trust and reliance upon Jesus, and is the only means by which,  we can receive salvation. This was purchased by the Lord Jesus who suffered a cruel death on the Cross. Hence, we say God gives us grace that leads to salvation, through our faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus gave His life for us, God gave His favor to us. We deserved neither, both were freely given.

 This,  being the gift of God and not something you can accomplish ourselves. Salvation in every respect is not your own doing.  If left to us to earn, we could never decide how much we had to offer, and would lead to people boasting as to their ability, and thereby measuring against others.

 The word grace is used 185 times in the Bible, and it is always free grace. This is emphasized, to reject any claim that we can contribute, it is God’s love shown to us.  God gives, we take.

 We have to be careful not to confuse mercy with grace. Mercy is when you see someone hurt in some way.  A man may be stopped by  police for speeding in his car, and tells the Officer he exceeded the speed limit by his anxiety to get to a  relative in a hospital gravely ill. The police, despite what some people say, have sympathy for special cases, so just gives the man a warning, that is mercy.  In another case, a man may by driving carelessly, kill a child  without meaning to do so. The mother of the child may forgive him, or he may have to appear before a Court to receive a sentence. For the man the event will pass, but for the mother she will never be able to forget. But if she forgives, that is grace. One person has received what was deserved, the other received totally undeserved

 When we speak of grace alone, we are saying something people find hard to accept. How often I have heard it said, I am a good man (or woman), God will take me to heaven. Try  to tell them that one can be saved without God’s grace is like telling them to put a square box in a round hole.  The clue is in the word ‘only’ grace. This was one of the points of Martin Luther when he started the Reformation, sola gratia (grace alone)

 I would think every Minister in the Christian Church would be able to say that every funeral service taken, the relatives of the deceased would confidently say the deceased was a good man who lived a good life, despite whatever kind of life led, or however he never thought of God or worshipped Him. This suggests that people think salvation is possible by the law of society, but it is not. The way of law suggests a way of sin, leads to death, grace is stated to be a way to heaven

 It is abundantly clear in the Bible, that Jesus shed His blood when He went to a cruel death on the Cross in order to pay the cost of our sins which would make us righteous in God’ sight, and all who accept that their sins have been paid for by Jesus, should consider why they fail to recognize the sacrifice by turning their life and follow His teaching, making them worthy of God’s grace. Remember Jesus could have walked away, but did not, He faced the task God sent Him to do,  Jesus even showed His human side, when He pleaded to be spared just before His crucifixion, but accepted God’s will.

 The passage states grace saved you when you (truly)turned to Christ, and you cannot take credit for it. In his famous hymn the Reverend  Toplady wrote, nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy Cross I cling, helpless look to Thee for grace, wash me Savior or I die.  God will save anyone who believes Jesus is their Lord and Savior, and confesses with their mouth.

 A devout lady named Charlotte Elliott, once asked a Pastor how could she approach God, and was told to come just as you are. She went home and wrote the words of a lovely hymn, which has been sung millions of times as the closing hymn of all the Billy Graham Crusades, Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come. That is all you need do. Come to Church, just as you are, but make sure it is a Bible based Church.

 The hymn which Newton wrote was based on his own life and personifies that which enabled him to write such meaningful words. He went to sea on slave ships at  very young age, before being forced into the Royal Navy.  He later became a Captain on slave ships, and led a life of wretchedness. One day he was steering the ship he was on, when a fierce storm hit the ship sweeping his friend overboard.

 His mother was a practicing Non-Conformist, who gave John religious instruction, but that had all been cast aside, until the storm came into his life and he realized his need of God. The storm caused him to be very afraid, and had a religious conversion, as he remembered his mother’s teaching. He abandoned the sea to obtain a Cusotom Office job in Liverpool (England) and began to consider a Church career. In those days the Church of England required a University education, which ruled him out. 

 He had been writing evangelical letters, which came to the notice of the Lord who owned the Church at Olney, Bedford, and he offered him the parish. Whilst there, he met the poet William Cowper and they became friends, and probably helped  Newton. In addition to Amazing grace, Newton also wrote those lovely worded hymns,  Glorious things of thee are spoken. And, How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believers ear; and produced a book of Olney Hymns.

 Newton subsequently met William Wilberforce, and joined with him in challenging the slave trade, and an act of Abolition was made just after the death of Newton.

 The words of the hymn were written based on personal experience

Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me (Life of wretchedness)

I Once was lost. (life of darkness) but now am found (Religious conversion

Was blind (rejected mother’s teaching) but now I see  (finding God)


T’was grave that caused my heart to fear(Storm at sea)

And grace my fear relieved ( Christian conversion)

How precious did that grace appear (Christianity) the hour I first believed(Turning to Christ)_


Through many dangers toils and snares I have already come (A stroke. Falling off horse

Working in slave trade. Leading life in unhealthy ways)

Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far(leading a Christian life)

And grace will lead me home. (leading rest of his life as a Christian)


May the Lord’s Holy Name be praised


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