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The Power of Grace| Sermon April 28, 2024

Updated: Jun 20

The Power of Grace

 

Scripture: Romans 1:17-18; Titus 2:11-12; Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 13:9

   

Good morning Strangers Rest. This is the third of the initial four messages God has given me to be delivered to you to both encourage and equip us as we begin this journey together. This morning we will be discussing “The Power of Grace” which is the title of this message. If you would, please turn in your Bibles to Titus 2:11-12. It says, “(11) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”

 

In the first message I delivered in this “series” I talked about the power of forgiveness. Do you remember it? The main point of the message was that God can only forgive us when we forgive others. On that Sunday we prayed together about starting this journey with a clean slate. Has anything changed? Did you change? Two weeks ago I delivered the second message in this “series” about the power of memories. In that message, I shared with you how Satan will attempt to use memories to bring back to our mind things that we have tried to forgive and forget. He knows that memories can take us to an emotional place where the hurt, anger and physical response all rise back up to the surface to make us “feel” as if we have not forgiven as we thought we had. Both of those messages were given to establish the foundation for how we will move forward as a Church on this journey.

 

In this message on the power of grace you’re going to hear how grace will play a vital role in not only how we walk together on this journey, but also in how you will choose your next Pastor. Grace is important as it lays the foundation for how we should be relating to one another. When Dea. Slaughter delivered his message “Run and Tell Somebody” he spoke about how we treat one another. He asked the question about how we as a people, especially as Christians can outcast one another. Have you thought about that? Then Dea. Harris in his message “Why Are We Saved” talked about the fact that we show God’s love through our actions – that we have been empowered to live a new life. Both of these messages overflowed with the idea of grace flowing through us to impact those around us. Finally, last week I had the opportunity to meet with the media team. They put together a nice presentation to walk me through the current situation and their future goals. But you know what left a lasting impression on my spirit? It was a statement in their Mission statements from the leadership. That statement was, “We support each other and give grace.” Now they shared a lot of information, but I will tell you that statement was the most powerful and shortly I will tell you why.

 

As I have shared with you previously, our relationship with Christ and His Word should be so secure that when we hear something that doesn’t sound right, we will are able to spot it and immediately go to the Word to verify if it was the truth. As you listen to what I am telling you on Sunday mornings and any other time that I am before you, you must judge it according to the Word of God. If I say something that cannot be verified in God’s Word you need to discard it – after you searched God’s Word to determine if I was in fact wrong. I can make mistakes and when I do I need to correct them. This morning, we will spend some time talking about grace. For a lot of people in the Church, and I’m referring to the Body of Christ as a whole, there is a lot of confusion around what grace actually does after it introduces us to our Heavenly Father and brings us into His family.

 

When Paul opened his letter to the Christians in Rome, he wrote, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’” (Romans 1:17) In this statement he makes it known that God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel on the ground of faith as the absolute condition of salvation and is only effective in those who believe. So he says “…in the righteousness of God is from faith to faith.” As we grow and continue in faith, more and more of God’s righteousness is revealed. But listen to what he said following this statement in verses 18-19. “(18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” (Romans 1:18-19) Paul said that God has revealed His wrath against all of the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. God’s feelings towards sin are not hidden and are not a mystery for He has revealed it to mankind. Now this is what I want you to take note of: Paul said the men doing the ungodly and unrighteous things “suppress the truth in unrighteousness…”    

 

Strangers Rest, you can’t suppress what you don’t know. In the very first chapter of the book of Romans, Paul is talking about people who profess to be Christians who are justifying and minimizing the impact of all types of sins in their lives. He said that when we attempt to justify and minimize the wrongs that we do what we are really doing is suppressing the truth concerning what the Bible says about sin and this starts in the pulpit. When a man or woman stands in the pulpit speaking as God’s representative they must make sure that what they are saying is accurate according to God’s word. A man of God should never stand before you and confess that “although” they are saved and a man of God that they are willing to “lay hands” on another man for looking at or approaching their wife in a manner they deem offensive. A man of God should never tell you that God knows he is weak and will look at an attractive woman when she crosses his path so God has made allowances for that – He hasn’t! You see, that behavior is contradicted in the Bible and in God’s eyes it’s not funny, even though some of you chuckled when that happened in this Church. 

 

When we understand this from God’s perspective we see that it is never appropriate for a man to stand in God’s pulpit as His representative and tell you that he is willing to behave in a way that is contrary to the Word of God. Brothers and sisters in Christ, I really want you to hear what I am saying to you this morning. The man you will ultimately bring in as your Pastor, as your leader, as your representative to the community, must be the man who will speak for God in your life. God expects a lot from us and we must meet His expectations, not mans. We must be better than this. God expects us to be better than this. Now if any of you have taken offense with what I just said, let me remind you of the prayer that we prayed on the first Sunday. Before God and each other, we agreed to walk in a spirit of continual forgiveness with one another so let’s allow that to be true this morning.

 

Paul said when we attempt to justify the wrongs that we do, what we are really doing is suppressing the truth concerning what the Bible says about what we have done. In other words, we hold down, suppress, imprison, and bridle the truth when it interferes with our desire to sin. Paul said we suppress the truth in our unrighteousness because “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” God has shown us how a lie justifies how we choose to live. Paul spends the rest of the opening chapter of the book of Romans giving us example after example of how the unrighteousness of men – the unrighteousness of Christians – was suppressing the truth in the Church at Rome.

 

The passages that we just read provide the perfect launching point for this message. What we are going to see this morning is what the Spirit says about grace and its power. We will discuss what grace does because what it does is sometimes distorted in the Church. As it is currently taught by some, the purpose of grace is to allow us to justify, continue in, distort, and celebrate sin as an inherent weakness that Christians cannot overcome, and therefore is covered under grace. I have sat in Churches and heard ministers talk about sin as if it was an expectation that we cannot stop or handle and therefore God has made allowances for us. Do you want to know how bad it has gotten? A pastor gave a testimony once that he was entering into an adulterous relationship with a woman. In his testimony he said that God protected him and stopped him from sinning. How did God do it? The pastor and the woman were supposed to meet at a hotel at a certain time. The pastor showed up but the woman did not. The pastor gave God praise for stopping him because the woman failed to show. A better testimony would have been that he came to his senses and he had been the one to not show up? Do you want to know what the Church’s response was to his testimony? People were yelling “Amen” and praising God for protecting their pastor. No one, to my knowledge, ever asked the pastor why he was in that relationship to begin with and why he showed up at the hotel!

 

This is why the Church, as a whole, is in the state that we are in! And please understand, I have committed more than my share of sin – but for every one that I have committed, I have repented and have chosen to go a different way. I am responsible for what I tell you and what I show you. If I show you sin and you follow my example and teach others to do so, I am responsible for the sin of others who I might never meet because I taught you, through my behavior, that sin was okay and you, seeing me, accepted that it was okay believing that God makes allowances for our weak flesh. In that pastor’s testimony, grace was implied but I am here to tell you that this is not what grace does. It actually does the opposite. As a matter of fact, Jesus said that if a man looks upon a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery with her in his heart – and this is way before showing up at the hotel! Jesus also said, Matthew 18:9, “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” Does this sound like a provision being made for a roaming eye? I am not saying it can never happen, but what I am saying is that there are times when we might bump into something at the mall because we were forced to walk around with our eyes closed to keep from sinning – just saying. But let me get back on topic.

 

I want to share a few statements that we make in the Church about grace that are simply not truth. And again, if you have made these statements and you disagree with what I will show you, please go back and search it out for yourself and then we can talk. These statements, because they are believed and accepted as truth, are great examples of how we “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). I am sure all of you have heard the statement, “I am just a sinner saved by grace.” I am sure you have also heard the companion statement, “Grace covers a multitude of sins, or my sins are covered by God’s grace.” Then there are the “grace” statements that we say in our efforts to explain why something may or may not have happened. “By the grace of God I survived such and such. By the grace of God I got the job over all of the other candidates. By the grace of God; by the grace of God, by the grace of God!!!” Does it make much sense that God will show me grace so that I can get a job while at the same time denying grace to another one of His children by denying them the job? Okay, for those of you who fall back on the “God operates in mysterious ways…” mentality I will just tell you that some of “God’s ways” He has made understandable for us and grace is one of them.

 

I want you to know that, while these statements sound spiritual and true, they are not, especially the ones that justify our continuing in sin. The grace of God has great power, but to the surprise of some and contrary to what some teaches in the Church, GRACE DOES NOT COVER SIN!!! Strangers Rest, the Bible does not teach this. Christians who continue to sin, believing that grace is covering them, are suppressing the truth in their unrighteousness, and putting themselves in danger. You see, the problem is we rely on what we hear from the pulpit versus going to God’s Word and reading it for ourselves. It is much easier for me to tell you that God knows I will lust after a good looking woman so therefore He has made provisions for me to repent after I do it versus telling you that through His grace He has taught me not to look in the first place. We (and you) must truth check our leaders to make sure that what they teach agrees with what the Bible says. So, if grace is not covering my sins, then what is grace doing? What is the purpose of grace? Before you totally tune me out, let’s go to the Word and find out.

 

In order to understand the purpose of grace, we must know what it is and what it is not. So, let’s define grace according to its use in Scripture. The Hebrew word for grace is “chen” and it means “kindness, favor, precious or acceptance.” The Greek word for grace is “charis” and it means “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in life.” Grace marks the difference between believers and unbelievers. When we examine the Greek word for grace, it denotes God doing something upon the heart which is reflected in how we live. People tend to confuse grace and mercy. Grace is not mercy. Briefly, if we sin and repent of that sin, God extends to us mercy instead of executing on us the righteous judgment for that sin. But the key to receiving His mercy is to have a repentant heart.

 

Now, let’s talk about what grace does. Ephesians 2:8-9 says the following, “(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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Remember the definition of grace from the Greek word “charis” is “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in life.” The first act of grace is salvation – we have a heart change when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Now once we are saved through grace, grace begins to work within us, and that work is not the work of an eraser or blanket. When you are writing with a pencil on a piece of paper and you make a mistake, what do you do? You take the eraser and erase the mistake and correct it. If you spill something on your couch and it leaves a stain, some people will take a decorative throw blanket and lay it across the couch to cover the stain. Many people see grace as an eraser that erases sin or a blanket that covers sin. Many Christians believe they are carrying grace around with them “in their minds” so that when they mess up, they sprinkle a little grace on it which covers or removes the sin and they keep right on going. They believe that they have unlimited grace for their unlimited sins.

 

Strangers Rest, grace gives us access to salvation, but it does not act as a blanket or eraser that continuously covers and/or erases sin. Remember what I said earlier. Grace is what marks a believer from an unbeliever. Unbelievers have access to God’s grace, now you need to hear me, so that they can receive salvation. That is the only time that it is available to them. God continuously shows mercy to unbelievers as He waits for them to accept His Son, but grace opens that door to salvation and then builds on it. Once we are saved, grace goes into action and the first thing it does, now get this, is teach us to reject sin! 

 

Titus chapter two verses eleven and twelve say the following: “(11) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12) Now let’s read these verses from the Amplified Bible. It says, “(11) For the [remarkable, undeserved] grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. (12) It teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives [lives with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age.” (Titus 2:11-12 Amp) The first thing I want you to see is that the grace of God can bring salvation. First Timothy 2:4 says it is God “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” For the person who says “yes” then grace begins to do something. Paul says that the grace of God is, “teach(ing) us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” Paul wrote that grace teaches (instructs, trains and disciplines) us to deny (reject in all forms) ungodliness (wickedness) and worldly lusts. Grace does not cover sins; it teaches us to reject it! Grace does not erase sin; it instructs us how to not do it in the first place.

 

Think about grace like this: you get into a bad financial situation and your only hope is to get some money fast. So you make the bad decision to rob a bank. In the process of attempting to rob the bank you get caught. As you stand before the judge, with your family members and friends sitting behind you with their heads bowed and shoulders slumped in embarrassment, and your enemies on the other side smiling and laughing at your misfortunes, you explain to the judge why you did it. The judge pronounces you guilty and deserving of prison time. However, he chooses to give you another chance if you can pay the fines and promise not to do it again. You committed the crime because you were in dire financial trouble, so you know you cannot pay the fines. You hang your head realizing that you are about to be sentenced to jail – separated from your family that you committed the crime to try and help. Just when you thought all was lost, a stranger steps up and agrees to pay all your fines as well as give you a donation to help you and your family get back on your feet. Now, you are facing prison time and huge fines and suddenly it is all being take care of for you, would you not be grateful? Because of the grace extended towards you in this situation, would you not feel humbled and so grateful that you would make a vow never to get into this situation again? Of course you would. All of us would.

 

Now if we would do this in the natural, why do we not do this when it pertains to sin? When it comes to sin, in this situation, we accept everything the person (the grace) does for us in the presence of the judge and then leave the courthouse and do the exact same thing the next day expecting more “grace” to be given to us. Does this make even a little bit of sense? Grace empowers us to reject all things not of Christ! Grace teaches us to say no to sin and yes to godliness. If we are saying no to sin, then we are listening to and obeying the lessons that grace is teaching us! Now turn to Romans chapter five.

 

Let’s read verses twenty and twenty-one. “(20) Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, (21) so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21) God’s grace empowers us so that we have the power to not sin. Some read verse twenty and walk away with the belief that when we are caught up in great sin there is enough grace to cover it. But I want you to see something. The word “abound” in this verse is two different Greek words. The first is pleonazō and the second is huperperisseuō. The first “abound” means “to do, make or be more, or to increase.” The second “abound” means “to super abound, abound much more, exceeding.” If sin is trying to abound in our lives, God’s grace is so powerful that it super abounds or exceedingly abounds over the sin! What this verse is saying is that there is more than enough grace available to us to enable us to resist the sin regardless of how strong the temptation.

 

Do you see how this changes the thought that grace is covering our sins? When we sin, mess up and/or miss the mark, it is at this point that we need God’s mercy, not grace. His mercy is always extended toward us as believers after we sin, but His grace has been made available to empower us not to sin. We all need God’s mercy because with His mercy we are not getting what we deserve. While we might deserve God’s wrath and judgment upon us, we receive mercy instead – Praise God!!! But as I said, grace, on the other hand, is what God gives us so that we have the ability and the power to do what is right – we just need to make the choice. Paul said that “so grace might reign through righteousness…” When we are making the right choices, grace reigns! Grace reigns through righteousness not through our sinning!!!

 

Now let’s look at what is captured in Romans 6:14. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) The only time sin had dominion over us was before we were born again. Sin cannot triumph over a Christian because we are under grace! We are under the power of grace! God's promises to us are more powerful and effectual for the crushing of sin than our promises to God. Sin may struggle in a believer and may cause us a great deal of trouble, but it shall not have dominion; it may vex us, but it shall not rule over us. Why? Because we are not under the law, but under grace, not under the law of sin and death, but under the law of the spirit of life, which is in Christ Jesus.

 

Now turn to Second Corinthians 9:8. It says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (Second Corinthians 9:8) Paul wrote that God would ensure that we have “all grace” in order to do what? All grace so that we will always have whatever we need in a given situation to handle our business – or better said, to handle His business. You see, again, grace is not covering anything – it is empowering.

 

I want to close this message with what is found in Ephesians 4:29. It says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) Now I want you to listen closely to this point because you could miss it. We are told not to let any corrupt word proceed out of our mouth but only words that are necessary for edification. Who are we edifying? Those that we are interacting with are who! And what happens when we edify them? We impart grace to them! This is why the media’s leadership mission statement stood out to me. Their desire to extend grace to one another is them simply edifying one another, especially with God’s Word! We do not give others grace to cover their sins; we impart grace that empowers through the truth of God’s word! Remember, grace is about what God does in our hearts – divine influence. So, when we are edifying others we are conveying grace, or divine influence, to those we are talking to.

 

Strangers Rest, the proper understanding of grace is extremely important to our lives, but not like it is often taught in our churches. We teach that grace covers sins. We teach that grace is given to us when we overcome something. We teach that grace was shown to us when we survive something. We teach that because we cannot stop sinning God shows us grace in acknowledgement that we are human and weak. This is not what grace does. Grace empowers. Grace teaches. Grace is God’s influence on our hearts and if God has influenced our hearts and we have not been changed then there was no influence. When you leave here this morning, I want you to walk out of these doors knowing that God’s grace has empowered you to change, not cover you so you can remain the same. His grace is empowering you to hear from Him in ways you have never heard before – trust Him, believe Him!

 

Until next time, “The Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.”  (Numbers 6:24-26)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VISION: 

“Til all the ransomed church of God is saved to sin no more"

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