8th October 2021
"God's grace be with you." Ephesians 3:1
Every one of Paul's letters to churches starts with, "God's grace be with you."
But what is this thing that is called Grace and why is Paul so obsessed with it?
Grace is the heart and essence of the gospel - it is the unmerited favour of God.
acrostic G.R.A.C.E.: God's Riches at Christ's Expense.
Mercy and grace are God in action.
But what is the difference between mercy and grace?
It's like a Judge presiding in court when he found a tramp in the dock before him
accused of theft.
He also realised that the man before him was an old school friend.
The judge looked at the case before him and knew he had to judge him guilty
but allows his old friend to get off with a fine - that's mercy.
But the tramp has no money; so the judge paid the fine and took him home -
Our God of life's DNA is LOVE - poured out in that amazing new experiment;
the creation of the world and especially human beings.
But all went wrong - Adam and Eve disobeyed. The experiment failed!!
When scientists find an experiment fails, they throw it out and start again -
back to square one. Thank God, he didn't think like that, instead He produced
a loving way to redeem his experiment by sending Jesus.
Love demonstrated on the Cross.
God's great love made him 'rich in grace'...
His great love for sinners, (us), enables him to be filled with compassion
The riches of His grace seek to reach out to all who will accept it.
Paul, the writer of the letter to the people in Ephesus is an example
of a person who you wouldn't expect to be a Christian.
When he looked at his life, the raw, glaringly obvious grace of God
was overwhelming; and he just had to spread the gospel to most of the world.
He ends up with this obsession with grace.
In Acts 20:24 he is recorded as saying:
I don't care about anything else in life, my very life itself is worth nothing to me,
if only I can finish the task of talking about the gospel of God's grace.
So every one of Paul's letters to churches starts with, "God's grace be with you."
And the whole theme of his letter to the Ephesians is God's eternal purpose to
bless humanity by his grace and to include us in that blessing.
It is great grace to be saved, to have our sins wiped away by the blood of Christ.
It is even greater grace to be adopted, to be made the Sons and Daughters of God.
This is huge. It's revolutionary. Grace is what separates
Christianity from any other world religion or philosophy.
Every other understanding of the world has human-effort
at the centre.
The most important thing in all of life is you and your effort.
God is out there and if you do enough good, then he'll like you. . .
Or, God doesn't even exist, but if you do well enough you'll survive and pass on
good genetic code to your children.
Grace says that our efforts are not central and that by any amount of effort,
we could never deserve anything good from God. But, God who is central, has chosen
to give us good things anyway. Unmerited favour. Grace. - It's beautiful. It's amazing.
And Paul understood that.
Here's what's so amazing;
when we understand the opportunity to carry out ministry as a gift of grace from God
instead of a duty or an obligation, it changes everything. -
we get to carry out ministry. We get to be involved. It's completely different.
We don't deserve to get to carry out ministry, but, in His grace God invites us in.
And this ministry, this gift from God - to proclaim God's grace - of love,
forgiveness and salvation - to others - is such a privilege!
Colin Urquhart defined a Christian as
'someone who allows God to work within them.'
Not what we can do for God but what God can do through us.
Let us open ourselves to allow God to work in us now.
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
"This Is Amazing Grace"
Sung by Phil Wickham
(Official Music Video)