Good News for Sinners and Saints – Part 1
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works,
otherwise grace is no longer grace. NASB
I want to highlight 3 matters about Divine Grace.
1. The Nature of Divine Grace
2. Good News for Sinners
3. Good News for Saints
Some of the material for this sermon was taken from or inspired by the book “Transforming Grace” by Jerry Bridges.
The grace of God is one of the most important subjects in all of Scripture. The fact that God shows favor to rebellious sinners, is the central message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what we preach, that God saves sinners by His marvelous grace, displayed to us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus died in the place of believing sinners, taking the full wrath of God for all their sins, thus paying the penalty in full for their sins. And God has proven how effective this payment is in canceling sin by raising Christ from the dead, showing that He has power over death…. Now this is Good News!
Good News – The Nature of Grace
We sinners who are hopelessly and desperately lost under weight and guilt of sin, can be rescued by God’s grace to us, and this grace is free! Through no payment of our own, God graciously pardons us on the basis of what Christ has done to earn favor with God, and pay the penalty of death, in our place. This is what we mean when we say we are saved by grace alone, that is, that we did not and can not earn or merit this favor from God, but it is given to us as a gift by His grace.
Romans 3:22-24 – 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; NASB
Grace is a gift…. It is unmerited, unearned. It doesn’t come to us on the basis of any works that we can do, if it did, it would no longer be grace.
Romans 11:6 – 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. NASB
Grace is the antonym to works. Not only can we not work for God’s favor, but we have incurred His wrath by countless sins. What we deserve is utter and eternal banishment from His presence because of our rebellious and treasonous actions against His authority. We have shaken our fist in His face and told Him we will do as we please, and this we have done 1000 times. Yet God is filled with grace. This is how the scripture portrays our plight, helplessly under the God’s wrath, but pardoned by His grace. Turn with me to…..
Ephesians 2:1-3 – 2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. NASB
We are all guilty before God-condemned, vile, helpless. He could with total justice have pronounced us all guilty, for that is what we were, and consigned us all to eternal damnation. That is what He did to the angels that sinned….(2 Pet 2:4), and He could have with perfect justice done the same to us. He owed us nothing, we owed Him everything. But because of His grace, God did not consign us all to hell, instead, He acted in His grace to save us.
Ephesians 2:4-5 – 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), NASB
Grace is one of the key attributes of God. The Lord God is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex 34:6). In His grace God has reached downward toward people who are rebellious against Him, and saved them out of their sin. He has freely chosen to pardon those who will trust in His Son. Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor shown to those who deserve only judgment.
Now this is Good News! But it doesn’t stop there. Grace doesn’t just rescue us from the penalty of our sins, furnish us with some new spiritual abilities, and then leave us on our own to grow in spiritual maturity. No, grace is in fact the ever continuing state of favor that we live in before God having all our sins forgiven. God is only disposed toward our good now, and never to our ruin. Is this not His emphatic promise in Romans 8:28?
Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASB
This is because God’s wrath because of our sins has been fully exhausted on the person of Christ. He bore ALL of our sins in His body on the tree. Christ’s sacrifice of atonement is utterly sufficient to cancel the debt of our sins, past, present and future. In His grace God has so completely discharged and forgiven our sins, He has told us in many different ways how complete and final this forgiveness is. This is such amazing Good News, we can hardly believe it.
Consider some of the passages from Scripture which describe the extent of His forgiveness of the sins of His people.
Into the depths of the sea
Have you ever wondered how deep the sea is? The average depth of the ocean is about 4,267 meters (14,000 feet). The deepest part of the ocean is located in the western
Micah 7:18-19 – 18 Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. 19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea. NASB
But what does God mean by this expression, or what does He want us to think it means. Well, if you are on a boat, and you toss something overboard into the depths of the sea, guess what? You never see it again. There is a song by Audio Adrenaline called Ocean Floor…. The lyrics read…
Your sins are forgotten, They’re on the bottom, Of the ocean floor
Your sins are erased, And they are no more, They’re out on the ocean floor
This what God says about the sins of His people, “I will cast them into the depths of the sea.” Let me tell you, this is Good News!
I will not remember your sins
Consider the words of Isaiah 43:25 concerning the sins of His people,
Isaiah 43:25 – 25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. NASB
Listen dear friends… “I am the One who wipes out your transgressions”…. Who wipes them out? God does. Now just how well of a job at wiping out transgressions do you suppose God can do when He sets out to do such? You guessed it, totally, perfectly and completely. But He goes on…. “I will not remember your sins.” This statement is a conscious deliberate act on God’s part when He says, “I will not.” He is willfully choosing to forget about our sins. What do you suppose God wants us to glean from this kind of promise in Scripture? I would suggest He means for us to think… “I will not remember your sins.” Now let me tell you… this is Good News!
As far as the East from the West
Turn with me also then to the words of Psalm 103:10-12…
Psalm 103:10-12 – 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. NASB
Consider when traveling from South to North, you eventually reach the North pole and start traveling South from there. But this is not true when traveling East to West. If you start East and continue in that direction, you will always be going East. North and South meet at the poles, but East and West never meet. In a sense, they are infinitely apart. So when God says He has removed our transgressions as far as the East is from the West, He is saying they have been removed an infinite distance from us. Jerry Bridges writes, “When God uses this metaphorical expression describing the extent of the forgiveness of our sins, He is saying His forgiveness is total, complete, and unconditional. He is saying, He is not keeping a record of our sins. Yes God actually says that! I know it seems to good to be true. But those gracious words are right in the Bible and they are God’s words. How can God possibly do this? How can He so completely disregard our transgressions as to say He removes them an infinite distance from us? The answer is by His grace through Jesus Christ. God laid our sins on Christ and He bore the penalty we should have borne. Because of Christ’s death in our place, God’s justice is now completely satisfied. God can now, without violating His justice or His moral Law, forgive us freely, completely and absolutely. He can now extend His grace to us. He can show favor to those who, deserve only wrath.”
And I add … this is Good News!
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