September 6, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Summer Sermon Series:
“Revive Us Again O Lord!”
Adapted from “Revival” by Adam Hamilton
Theme: The Necessity of Grace…
“God’s Glorious Grace…”
Ephesians 2:8-10Amplified Bible (AMP)
8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
Prayer for God’s Word to be heard through me…
I love the fact that we are given grace periods when we are making payments for something. There have been times when I have forgotten about a bill that I have had and paid the bill a little late. If it wasn’t for the grace period I am given I would have had to pay a late fee and we all know how large of an amount that may be. It is nice that I am given that grace by the company. I think we have a lot to learn from that practice of giving grace. We are given an amount of time that we have and the company will not penalize us for it.
Or how about when people show us grace when we have done something wrong? They forgive us even though we have wronged them. Grace is a wonderful thing that others give us even though we may not deserve it…I am glad that God shows me grace each day. He understands that I am a flawed human but forgives me anyway… This amazing grace that is showered down upon humanity is something I can’t do without…
This summer we have decided that we are going to be intentional with our faith and our God…that we want God to revive us again with that passion for Him and His word. As we do this, we are going to take a walk with John Wesley and see how he lived out his faith at times. I pray that we will be challenged and changed…that our Spirit’s will be filled and energized so that when we leave our church each Sunday, we will go out into the world as light bearers of the King. As we become those light bearers I pray that we bring revival to our community and beyond…to the ends of the earth. But it all begins here…within ourselves…being intentional with our faith…with our Spirit…with our God. We want a revival within our souls…
Revival is a reawakening of faith or renewal of commitment to religion… we have talked about being intentional…wanting to awaken what may have fallen asleep within us… As we long for Holiness. WE talked about having a Crisis of Faith and we may be thinking that if we just do a little more God will do more in our lives. But the problem may be that we have forgotten one important factor in this thing we call faith, we are justified by faith-only through having faith in Jesus Christ we are made righteous. This is God’s grace that we are accepted by grace alone. There is a necessity of and for grace.
From the Ephesians scripture I just read we can understand one thing. We are saved by grace. No matter how much faith we have, without God’s grace we cannot call ourselves saved. We are made for the good works in Christ Jesus…the good works is not what gets us there. It is only by grace we do the good works God has planned for each of us to do for His glory. Grace is offered to “ALL” of God’s children, even though they “don’t deserve it”. This is an act of kindness, an expression of selfless love, undeserved and given without expectation (something in return). God’s Glorious Grace! Many Christians grow up not knowing about this grace from God. They are taught that God is an angry being just waiting for humanity to mess up so that He can punish them. But our Risen Lord, Jesus exampled something completely different. He exampled a God of love and grace.
So this grace…two things I want to share…
- It is a quality of God’s character whereby God loves, blesses and forgives humanity despite our sin.
- He is a shepherd who searches for lost sheep
- Runs to me the prodigal son…or daughter
- Friend of drunkards, prostitutes and sinners
- Gracious and merciful
- Compassionate and full of great love
- Grace that led God to create all things
- Grace that leads God to show mercy to humanity
- An act of God’s generosity and love…the gift of life…
- Grace is every good thing in our lives
- And out of this grace we respond with :
- A Heart and life full of gratitude…
- It is God’s active work by the Spirit to draw us near and to restore us to what He created us to be.
Through this grace God draws us nearer to Him when we accept it, God forgives and justifies our faith. It is by this grace that we are sanctified by God, to form and shape us, and restore us to be the people of God.
Let’s talk for a minute about sin. Sin is the act of walking away from God’s way and it is the force within us that leads us to walk away from God’s way. John Wesley called it “missing the mark”…not quite hitting the target of who God would have us be…
John Wesley states there are 3 types of grace:
- Previenient Grace → God is at work even before we know to reach out to God. It is God’s way of “wooing” us back to Him. It is not irresistible so we have a choice. It may even be only in hindsight that we recognize it. (example)
- Justifying Grace → when we finally say yes to God’s invitation, we learn to trust Christ who died for us, saved us, delivered us from sin, and redeemed us. God declares we are delivered from sin and death at the same time He is working in our hearts to free us from guilt and death in order to make us new.
- Sanctifying Grace → gives us the ability to hear, understand and respond to God’s gift of salvation (when we experience the justifying grace…when we accept God’s offer…this is when this grace sort of “kicks in” so to speak). This is the grace that is an ongoing thing until we reach holiness. This is God’s work that helps us mature and grow and become what and who we are meant to be and is achieved through the Holy Spirit.
Now we can resist this sanctifying grace as we can the other two forms. The ultimate goal us that we become fully and completely sanctified…and are made holy. We will finally fully love God with all our heart, mind and strength and love others as ourselves.
So…how do we come by this glorious grace from God? How do these forms of grace come to us? Wesley talks about several practices through which God’s grace is communicated and conveyed. Through prayer, Scripture reading, and the Lord’s Supper (today we are experiencing all 3). He later added public worship, preaching, fasting and abstinence. There are also several other ways that God pours out His grace upon humanity:
- Serving in mission and ministry with others
- Reading books on Christian values and Christian lives
- Walking in silence through the woods…being in God’s creation.
- Within small groups of Christians talking about faith
Whatever or where ever we pay attention, listening for God’s Spirit with our ears and hearts.
Sharing this wondrous grace with others is vital. As we strive to make disciples of all humanity, we hear of some churches are no longer growing because they have lost their passion for those who don’t know Christ yet. How can we not want to share this good news of the free gift that God gives all who would accept Christ as their Savior? How can they come to this saving grace if we are unwilling to be gracious with them and show them…share with them…teach them about…God’s glorious gift of grace? In the song “Amazing Grace” there is a verse that says “I once was lost, but now am found”. How can the lost be found if we are not looking for them?
Without grace we are nowhere. But we need to accept it. Example…see this gift box…it represents the gift of God through Christ. This is God’s grace waiting for us (previenient grace). As we open…accept this gift we are given God’s grace and are saved (justifying grace). As we grateful for this gift we draw closer to God and begin to want others to know this grace…we love others into this grace (sanctifying grace). But as I have always said…it begins with you and with me. It is a heart thing. It is from within that we begin this wondrous journey of grace. As we begin that journey back we too shall cry out…”Revive us again O Lord”. This we pray in the strong and precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ…