I want to talk about “everyday grace” in our community.
We are going to start with a birds eye view as we FLY over Romans 5 but what is so significant is that grace is mentioned 6x in this chapter and personified in verse 8
8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Remember, but for the grace of God, go I. This verse reminds us that if we think any part of this is me, this verse quickly erases that. There is nothing that I could do that would make me acceptable before God.
The Hebrew meaning of grace is seen in a more concrete way, not abstract. The picture of grace was that of a series of tents that surrounded the people of God. The tent was in essence a reminder of this gracious and beautiful place that God had placed them in. He was their shield, their covering, their fortress.
It signifies the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, affected through the agency of the Holy Spirit. While we sometimes speak of grace as an inherent quality, it is in reality the active communication of divine blessings by the inworking of the Holy Spirit, out of the fulness of Him who is “full of grace and truth. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology
It almost always means the power of salvation which finds expression in specific gifts, acts, and spheres
Like ‘Spirit,’ (with which it overlaps in meaning), it denotes effective divine power in the experience of men.” —James D.G. Dunn It is the life giving presence of Jesus!
GRACE – God’s riches at Christ’s expense or undeserved favor or GIFT..when was the last time you pulled out your wallet to pay someone for a gift?... that would be ridiculous.
There are 3 focus areas of our strategic plan:
They are like the drop down menu under ‘everyday grace in our community”
· Experiencing grace
· Empowered by grace
· Extending grace
And I see them all expressed in the grace-packed chapter!
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
· The experience of God’s GRACE – God’s riches at Christ’s Expense! It is accessed by faith. However, it costs! Make no mistake the cost of our grace was great…just keep reading to Romans 6.
What does that grace look like, the grace in which now he stands?
He experienced it through:
Suffering– That doesn’t sound exciting…You mean we experience grace through suffering. Paul experienced the grace of God in the midst of the suffering because the persecution he was facing from the religious
Jesus was ready to suffer so that we could experience his unbelievable grace and freedom.
Perseverance in pursuing grace produces character, hope, and the opposite of shame which is the experience of grace…no more guilt.
Jesus persevered as He went to the cross, when He cried out to God, not my will, but yours be done.
· As a result of grace, we experience God’s love through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
I will never forget the word spoken over my life that I would bring rivers of living water to a dry and weary land!
The Spirit of God testifies with our spirit and gives us the growing sense of confidence that we are His children, hearing His voice and following His leading.
I think of the stories from the time that Josh was here with the young adults at their retreat at the beginning of the summer. They prayed right through their scheduled dinner time or the prayer meeting in June that went past 11pm for those gathered there who took time to just listen to what God was laying on their hearts for the people that they placed their hands on.
I’m also reminded of the ladies retreat a year ago when God confirmed things over and over through the prayers of the ladies there through words, pictures and verses. The prayer time gripped them so much they came back and committed to praying weekly together for a significant period of time.
What is the common thread here? The experience of grace through prayer led to a greater hunger for more of God’s life giving presence….You want it more!
· 4.As a result of grace we have received the gift of justification.
v1 accessed by faith and v9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
This is a legal term from the world of law. To justify means to “declare not guilty.” Wayne Grudem defines it this way: “An instantaneous legal act of God in which He thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us.” We are found not guilty but we are also declared righteous. According to 2 Corinthians 5:21, the righteousness of Christ is credited to your account. Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
5.As a result of grace we have received the gift of reconciliation.
v10For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Reconciliation…the act of taking parties that were diametrically opposed to each other in bringing them into perfect and complete union.
Empowered By Grace
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
· Empowered by an abundant provision of grace – abundance speaks of a lavish outpouring, it’s a well that won’t run dry. It is thirst quenching, overflowing, it is real freedom
· Empowered by the gift of righteousness – we can get clothed in it everyday
· Empowered as we reign in life through Jesus Christ – we carry the life giving presence of Jesus Christ
You can’t program this in to people, but it comes through the living presence of Jesus. It leads us to making God honoring decisions.
My dad loved cars. A great day would be going to the Guelph Auto Mall and test driving cars on any given Saturday. However, somehow we managed to end up with a Relient K car! Anyways, one day I was with my mom driving it along some country roads in the winter while home on winter break from Bible school. I was going to fast, came around an S turn, lost control and slid into an oncoming van. Well, it was totalled but I still was able to drive it home. My mom told me to park it in the garage so dad wouldn’t see it right away when we got home…grace. Then she said, “let dad eat supper first and then you can show it to him”… more grace. Well, I then showed dad the car and his response…He was just glad that nobody was hurt and taught me I was so much more important than things. He was empowered by grace and he extended it to me!
18Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Law fulfills its purpose when it makes men realize the full sense of how sinful they are as they see the sins they commit. It is like a mirror that reveals the dirt on our face.
There is nothing like a speeding ticket to remind you of the law! My mom was racing one morning down Hwy 6 getting to High Power Soccer Camp doing 116km in an 80km zone. She could pulled over and informed that the ticket was going to be $282-. He asked her where was she going in such a hurry. She explained to make snacks for the kids at soccer camp as she was wearing her bright yellow camp t-shirt! Well, the officer let her off the hook and made her promise to slow down! He extended incredible grace in that situation to her!
“Where sin overflowed, grace flooded in.”
· A grace that extends further than the effects of sin. - so much so that becomes more the news story that the effects of sin that often dominate the headlines.
· A grace that extends to righteous acts - Our reputation in the community is welcomed and received.
· A grace that extends to eternal life though Jesus Christ! We want to see people come to know Jesus.
To live as a saint is to be living in grace and extending grace.
The picture for Grace –
1. We are agents of change in our community viewed as streams watering the desert. Isaiah 43:18-21. We have a reputation!
2. We see ourselves as people IN community FOR the community. The Word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood. John 1:14
3. Involvement in community (among the people of GCC and in Guelph) exceeds involvement in church
Our church in Milton had a similar vision to extend grace into the community so much so that we took a Sunday off as well to “be the church”. We served in the community doing everything from a food drive to organizing gifts at the Salvation Army. We also were involved in supporting the women’s shelter and helping ladies get started on their own. We created a “Good For Nothing” store that people in need could find really good clothing. Well I remember Sharon telling me one day that a lady came up to her and thought we were a church of 1000 people because of all the community work going on. Nope….just a church of 150 people extending grace and love!!
This Friday and Saturday, our Junior High youth will be challenged on the theme of “I AM compelled!” and challenged to extend grace in their schools! www.iamcompelled.ca
As you experience the depths of His grace, grace will empower you to extend it into our community.
It is circular…when you extend it, you will experience it as well.
It is poured out through the Holy Spirit as we experience grace. It overflows through the empowerment as we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and grace increases all the more. It extends further than the most far reaching effects of sin!