The Benefit of Grace | April 27, 2022
Who is someone you would consider a saint? Usually it is the most godly or impactful person you know. In the catholic faith, someone becomes a saint after they die if their life is evaluated and they are found to live virtuously, as a servant of God, and have performed at least one miracle or if someone prays to them after their death and a miracle occurs.
* Conversation with a catholic and how excited he was to talk about saints and popes *
Where the real excitement is…because the real miracle is…is that you and I are considered saints. We are called saints, not because of anything we’ve done, but because of everything He’s done. Paul calls the church in Corinth saints.
Tonight, we’re going to look at one of the great many benefits of being a Christian—the one that allows a sinful church like Corinth to be called saints—grace.
Now, before we get started in this, what are benefits? Really, when we think about it, it is something we get when we deserve or have earned something (Gym membership benefits…Health benefits with job…Membership to retail chains…Kroger discount off groceries and gas…Discount card…$20 gets you discounts off all kinds of restaurants around town). In all of these, we get benefits because we put something in, we’ve earned it, we deserve it.
But, the benefits of being a Christian are completely different. One of the greatest benefits of being a Christian is grace (charisa). It is undeserved, not-able-to-be-paid-back kindness. It is undeserved, unearned forgiveness. This word refers to some time in the past at a very point in time, a moment of time, that you were given grace. And that grace continues on into eternity.
When you were saved, you became a saint…you became a Christian…you were given grace in that very moment…you were forgiven and free…you were a saint from that moment forward…you were given grace. So, if you’re in Christ and you are a saint and you have grace…let’s see what you can no longer have. That’s part of the benefit. There are some negative things that cannot coexist with grace.
1) You cannot have guilt with grace. Guilt cannot coexist with grace. Grace and guilt cannot go together.
Grace is not grace if God says I will be gracious to you if you do not sin. That’s not grace. If grace is withheld from the sinner in the least degree because of their sin, then it isn’t grace. Grace is undeserved, unearned favor.
This is what brought Paul to say what he did in Romans 5:6-8, 18-20.
But that doesn’t mean we go on sinning (Romans 6:1-2)
So, how much of a sinner’s sins are forgiven? All of them! No wonder Paul thanks God for grace. Are you thankful for that kind of grace? Are you thankful for the grace that’s forgiven you of all your sin and holds you absolutely guiltless before God for the rest of your eternity? You say that’s awesome! And if you’re hearing this and you’re not a Christian (you’ve never surrendered your heart and life to Jesus), isn’t this somewhat inviting for God to say to you, “I will cleanse all your sin before my eyes, I will forgive all of it, I will set aside all your guilt, I will hold you blameless and holy forever.” Isn’t that a nice offer? That leads us to our next point…
2) You cannot pay grace back. Grace cannot exist with human obligation. Grace is not something you have to pay back.
You can’t say, “Well God was gracious to me and He saved me and now I’ve got to pay Him back. I owe Him!” You can’t do that.Can you pay back a gift? No, it’s no longer a gift then.Even if you wanted to and sought to, grace is not something you CAN pay back.For what can you pay someone who has everything?
Paul gets into this in Romans 4, talking about Abraham being justified through his faith, and not by the law (not earned) and how that trickles all the way to us.
Our very faith is by the grace of God. Our faith doesn’t save us…it’s the object of our faith. When we trust in Christ, in faith, His righteousness is credited to us, and we cannot pay it back. Even our very faith is by the grace of God. We couldn’t even be able to place our faith in Christ if it wasn’t for his grace.
Most modern interpreters believe the ‘gift of God’ is ‘salvation by grace through faith’. Ancient Bible interpreters and majority of the early church fathers said that it was the faith itself that was the gift. Either way, our very faith is only by the grace of God. You can only place your faith in God because God was gracious to allow you to do so and to woo you to himself. You wouldn’t come to him on your own. Your faith isn’t by your own works, it is the gift of God.
Whatever is earned is not grace. Think of it this way, when you’re done working for a week and your boss comes to you with your paycheck, you don’t say, “Oh my boss, my wonderful boss! How gracious you are! Oh, the love you’re expressing is too much! I thank you! I thank you! I thank you so much!” No! If the check doesn’t come to you, you go and say, “Where’s my money?” Why? It isn’t grace. You earned the money. Whatever is earned is not grace.
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award—yet receives such a gift anyway—that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
If we got what we earned, we would get hell. But by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus, we get heaven. I love what the Puritan Richard Baxter allegedly said about this:
As we paid nothing for God’s eternal love and nothing for the Son of His love, and nothing for His Spirit and our grace and faith, and nothing for our eternal rest…What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the unmeasurable difference between our deservings and our receivings. O, how free was all this love, and how free is this enjoyed glory…So then let “Deserved” be written on the floor of hell but on the door of heaven and life, “The Free Gift”.
Since we can’t earn grace…
3) You do not have to be the best of people to receive grace. Grace cannot coexist with any recognition of human merit. Grace does not come to you because of something special in you that makes you deserve it. Grace does not come because you are the best of people.
Paul gets to this in Romans 3:10-24. In it he says things like, “None is righteous…” vs 10…“All have sinned…” vs. 23. Paul knew this better than anyone. He describes himself as least of the apostles because he persecuted the church (1 Cor. 15:9). But Jesus, in his grace, sought him out when all Paul was doing was seeking to snuff Jesus out. Paul brought nothing to the table when it came to his salvation. It’s the same with us.
Let’s think of what we bring to the table when it comes to the grace of God…nothing. We bring nothing. Actually, it’s not nothing we bring to the table. We bring a lack.
We bring a lack of belief – a lack of faith – blatant disobedience – worship of many idols – pride – selfishness – our own way – our own strength – our own abilities – our own works – which are all as filthy rags – we bring our depression – our anxieties – our fears – our doubts – our dirtiness – our sinful selves.
Everything about us shouts that we should not be with God. Yet, He gives us everything – He gives us Himself. He gives us grace.
So, how do we get this? How do we get grace? How do we get Christ? If we continue in Romans 3 it tells us.
It is to be received by faith (vs. 25). There’s no boasting (vs. 27) because we don’t deserve it. Our faith is holding on to the work of Jesus and freely receiving His grace.