God’s very nature is grace

Grace, what does it look like  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  19:14
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When we say that God loves us it raises the question of what does that mean in practice?
After all how can you know love without experiencing its outworking?
Without the experience of being loved you have only this concept of love.
And a concept is nothing more than an idea.
And an idea isn’t the real thing.
To know what love is you actually have to experience it.
You know love because a parent loves you.
You know love because you love your parent.
You know love because you experience it in your life.
Firstly as a child,
Then as an adult,
Then for most as a parent.
When we talk about the love of God it is impossbile for us to understand except in the practical experience of that love.
Firstly in the sacrifice of Christ for our redemption.
Secondly in the day to day reassurance of the peace of the presence of God through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The outworking of God’s love is seen through what is known as God’s Grace
The nature of God
Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favour.
It flows from and is an outworking of the fact that God is love.
For humanity grace is the dynamic expression of the divine personality.
God’s very nature is gracious.
His graciousness is because he loves those he has created.
We see this expressed in Ephesians 1:4 “4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
And clarified in Ephesians 1:7 “7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”
Now while Ephesians 1:3-14 is actually one enormous long sentence.
A single sentence that is almost impossible to analyse because it is one thought following after another.
Thoughts strung together which provide a glorious insight into the Apostle Paul’s thinking.
And from this there are a few clear themes which emerge.
Chief among them is that it is God who has determined to bless humanity.
It is not something that he had to do because of some eternal factor.
It is something internal to his character which has caused this to happen.
The great writer A. W. Tozer summed up this truth well when he wrote these words.
No law has ever been passed that can compel one moral being to love another, for by the very nature of it love must be voluntary. No one can be coerced or frightened into loving anyone.
(The Quotable Tozer I: Wise Words with a Prophetic Edge A. W. Tozer)
Because God is a moral being his love is voluntary, but because God is God he must be who he is.
He can never contradict his nature because he has no imperfection or inconsistency.
Unlike us human beings who can and are inconsistent in our moral actions God will never contradict his nature.
He acts graciously towards us because his nature is to love.
Love in action is Grace.
From the very moment of creation and throughout the Biblical record God’s nature is progressively revealed to us.
By the time of the Exodus and Mt Sinai there is a clear understanding of the nature of God.
It is expressed in Exodus 34:6-7 when the Lord passes before Moses on the mountain
Exodus 34:6–7 NLT
6 The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. 7 I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.”
The ultimate expression of God’s Grace is of course Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
But even in this case it is entirely of God’s own volition.
Let’s be very clear God’s Grace is never deserved.
Grace is never deserved
Grace is something more than ‘unmerited favour’ … grace is favour shown where there is positive demerit in the one receiving it. (The Complete Gathered Gold: A Treasury of Quotations for Christians Anonymous)
There is a very clear theme throughout the Scriptures.
We can do nothing to merit God’s favour.
There are many good things that we will and should do because God loves us.
These things are a response of love and are good for us, for those around us and for society as a whole.
But these things do not earn us merit with God.
Romans 9:16 NLT
16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
Grace is freely given by a loving gracious God, it is not earnt by an undeserving human.
Although throughout history many have tried it has always degenerated into legalism.
The keeping of rules, in a vain attempt to win God’s favour, always becomes an exercise in self righteousness and judgementalism towards others.
My Favorite Illustrations Choose the Grace Road

Choose the Grace Road

A man stands at a fork in the road trying to decide which way to go. One road has a sign which says “law.” The other has a sign reading “grace.” If he chooses to travel the law road, he falls away from the grace road. It is not a matter of being in grace, and falling out of it. It is a matter of never having been in grace.

One cannot travel both roads. For law and grace negate each other. If it is by works it cannot be by grace or as a gift. If it is by grace, then it cannot be by law. Christ is in the grace road. So if you travel the law road, you are cut off from Him and His saving power. To depend upon legalism in any form or degree for salvation is to turn your back upon Christ.

Again and again the Scritptures are clear.
Grace is an attirbute of God, a part of his nature to love his creation even when it is in rebellion against him.
Even when his creation turns to him in repentance it is a gift from him.
Ephesians 2:8–9 NLT
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
What is grace? It is a term notoriously difficult to define. Grace essentially means ‘unmerited favour’, favour you do not deserve, favour you receive but to which you have no right or title in any shape or form, and of which you are entirely unworthy and undeserving. We may call it condescending love—love coming down.
(God’s Ultimate Purpose, 37 Gems from Martyn Lloyd-Jones -David Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
There is something incredibly liberating about this fact.
You can’t earn grace, you don’t deserve it and there is nothing within you that makes you worthy of it.
It is entirely a gift and this gift frees you from the obligation to try and work for it.
In accepting this gift in gratitude you demonstrate the true nature of the gift of Grace.
And that demonstration is an incredible witness to the nature of God as a God of love.
Becasue we do not deserve grace and we cannot earn it by our own efforts Christianity stands apart from every other belief system.
Grace is an incredible witness that no other religion offers

Every religion, except one, puts you upon doing something in order to recommend yourself to God.… It is only the religion of Christ, which runs counter to all the rest

Every other belief system requires some form of striving to achieve righteousness.
Wether that be good deeds.
Or religious activities.
Denying yourself or the keeping of various rules and regulations.
The achieving of some pilgrim journey.
Even secularism has a form of works salvation.
Make the best of your life for that is the only opportunity for happiness.
But time and again all of these are shown to be empty.
There is no sureity in any of these systems because you can never be certain that you have done enough, been pious enough or given enough.
And even if the belief system tells you you have done enough, you actually haven’t because there is only one God and that God is perfect and you can never achieve perfection because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Christianity is different

Grace. One of the distinctive features of the religion of the Bible. No other system of religious thought, past or present, contains an emphasis on divine grace comparable to that of the Bible.

Grace is freely given by God to the undeserving.
It is the outworking of the very character of the divine to offer grace to those who can never earn it of themselves.
This is wonderful good news.
It is only the unique gracious nature of God, ultimately expressed in the gift of Christ that when properly understood brings freedom to those who are desperately in need.
That is a message the world needs to hear.
God is love, his unmerited favour is freely given to all who will accept it.
Grace is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind.
(The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations Matthew Henry)
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