Grace means Christ died for all
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink!
Is a common saying and if you have ever had anything to do with horses you know that there is some truth to the statement.
When I was young there was a period of time when we would go to a trail riding farm at Mooloolah in the Sunshine Coast hinterland on a regular basis to go riding.
There would be some horses waiting and the staff would go out on several rides a day.
The rides started through some hilly country and then ended up at the edge of a large dam on the Sunshine Coast.
This dam is opposite the Big Cart track on Steve Irwin Way.
Now usually the ride was uneventual.
You would wind your way along the trails, get to the dam, the horses would have a drink and then you would head back to the yards where the horses where kept.
But sometimes things would get a little interesting and occassionally downright dangerous as things do with horses.
On one ride there was a low tree branch just around a corner and most riders had to duck under it.
Thing is I didn’t see this branch in time and ended up not being able to duck forward but having to bend over backwards as the horse walked under it.
I was jamed between the saddle and the branch and the horse just kept walking.
Others had the experience of their horse bolting on the home strech as there was a big flat paddock with a couple of creeks to jump over.
My sister and my dad both had that experience and came off.
Dad landed in a cow pat.
Some others found the dam to be quite a challenge.
Some horses will walk just into the water and drink, no problem.
Others will splash around a bit and then drink, also no problem.
Soem will want to go for a swim, which means the rider is going in as well.
But occassionally a horse will want to roll over in the water and that is a big problem.
The rider may get squashed if they don’t jump off.
The saddle will get wrecked and may actually injure the horse if they roll onto their back.
After a while I think my parents decided that this sort of riding was a bit to risky and my sister really wanted her own pony so we got our own and joined a pony club.
But one thing I learnt to be absolutely true through all of this is that you can lead a horse to water but there is no way in the world that you can make it drink if it doesn’t want to.
Grace is like the water in the dam, there is plenty to go around but you have to choose to drink it.
To understand grace we have to understand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice.
Romans 5 makes some key points that help us to understand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice and how it applies to humanity.
We read in Romans 5:16 “16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.”
God’s gracious gift is free and it leads to our being made right with God.
It isn’t about us or our effort, it is about Christ and his sacrifice.
It is that God’s very nature of love causes him to extend grace to us and make a way that we can regain fellowship with him.
Romans 5:17 “17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.”
Again we see another truth about Christ’s sacrifice.
Its scope is greater than the sin of Adam that brought condemnation.
Adam’s sin brought universal condemnation.
God’s wonderful grace and gift or righteousness results in triumph over sin and death.
And then in verse 21 we see the universal application Romans 5:21 “21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Grace means that Christ dies for all, the offer of grace is universal.
As one theologian puts it
“These redemptive events in the life of Jesus provide a salvation so extensive, so broad as to potentially include the whole of humanity past, present and future!” Donald M. Lake
There is no one who is beyond God’s grace.
No one who could not be saved by it.
Every human being who has ever lived, who lives or ever will has the potential to be saved.
Romans 1:20 is clear “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
Anyone who genuinely searches has the potential to receive God’s grace.
Before Christ, through the Old Testament we see numerous examples of people who knew God and are counted among the saints.
They did not know of Christ but they knew God.
Therefore Christ’s death and resurrection and therefore his redemption applies to them.
That is not universallism, the belief that everyone gets to heaven.
This is the universal application of grace.
Anyone who genuinely comes to know God through genuinely seeking him has the offer of grace extended to them.
Once again this is not the universalism that says all religions are the same.
For clearly they are not.
As I said last week every other faith requires works and that leads away from grace.
What it does mean is that grace is universally available to those who genuinely seek it.
But while grace is universally available not all will receive it.
Many are like the stubborn horse who refuses to drink from the dam.
12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it.
When Christ returns it will be to late, those who have not accepted God’s gracious gift will be lost to eternal separation from God.
7 And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.
Grace means that Christ died for all, but like any gracious gift it has to be accepted for it to become yours.
There is no excuse God’s existance and his graciousness are clearly evident to all who genuinely seek him.
So how should “Grace means Christ died for all” impact our approach to life?
Or how should we see people in light of this truth?
It is all to easy for us to see some people as beyond help.
It is all to easy for us to give up on some as a hopeless case.
We can become cynical, but God never gives up on people at least until judgement day.
So nor should we.
A few days ago at our local neighbourhood shops I walked past a person passed out sound asleep reclined on one of the benches.
They were clutching a bottle of softdrink and a reusable shopping bag.
Their sitting up sleeping position made it very clear that this was a sleep only made positble by whatever substance they were on.
They were safe, there ws no danger they would suffocate.
From a practical perspective there was little I could do and interference may have been met with hostility.
They were not seeking my help, nor were they in danger as it was broad daylight and people were just letting them be.
So I too let them be.
Now I had two choices there in my attitude towards them
I could write this person off as beyond help and if I see them again when they are awake I could avoid them.
Or I could engage with them and say hello.
I could be friendly with the openness to demonstrate grace or I could see them as lost, without hope of redemption, and therefore a waste of my time.
Let me ask you the question, how do you perceive people?
Do you see them as someone in need of God’s grace which is available should they seek it.
Or do you see them, as beyond hope.
Lost, someone to avoid if you possibly can.
It might be a neighbour, a work collegue, a family member or just the person sitting on the bench at the shopping centre.
Sometimes there is opportunity to do something practical, but do we see the opportunity if our approach misses the truth that Christ died for all?
No one is beyond God’s grace, unless they ultimately choose to be!
That means that no one should be beyond our loving service whenever there is an opportunity and a need we can meet.
If Christ died for them, then they need his grace and perhaps we are his instrument to bring it to them.