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A Pauline Lesson on the Grace of God

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
September 27, 2020 7:00 pm

A Pauline Lesson on the Grace of God

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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September 27, 2020 7:00 pm

Pastor Mike Karns speaks from various statements of the Apostle Paul about the grace of God.

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Well tonight, I want to bring you a message entitled, A Pauline Lesson on the Grace of God. The grace of God. The word grace comes from the Greek word keros, which means favor, blessing, or kindness. And when we speak of the grace of God, we're speaking of God in His choosing to bless and favor us rather than curse us as our sins deserve.

Grace is love in action towards men who merit the opposite. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift one solitary finger to save themselves. Grace, the grace of God permeates the entirety of scripture. It is the subject of much of our hymnody. There are many adjectives used to describe the grace of God.

Wondrous, sufficient, efficacious, redeeming, wonderful. We speak of the convicting grace of God. We speak of the converting grace of God. We speak of the persevering grace of God.

We speak of the sanctifying grace of God. The hymn writer says, Grace, such a charming sound. Grace is majestic, it's marvelous, it's magnanimous. Grace is overflowing, it's matchless. And if you're following me and trying to get your mind around those adjectives, you notice that I omitted the word that John Newton marries to grace, and that is amazing. Amazing, amazing grace.

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. The third stanza of Newton's hymn says, Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come. Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. Newton is communicating the sense of our need of the grace of God throughout our entire earthly sojourn. We sing Chris Anderson's hymn, Relentless Love.

And what Chris Anderson speaks in regards to the love of God could just as accurately be spoken and said of the grace of God. As he speaks, relentless love. We could say relentless grace embraced my soul in ages past. But he says, relentless love embraced my soul in ages past. Love undeserved, unknown, yet deep and vast. God set his love on me, on me in spite of me.

Salvation's work is his from first to last. Relentless love pursued my heart, though I would hide. Was unreturned, yet undeterred by pride. Till by a grace unsought, my rebel soul was caught, redeemed by love that would not be denied. Relentless love preserves my life from unbelief. Sustains me through my sin, my doubt, my grief. Since Christ has done it all, though feeble I'll not fall, his wounded hands hold me, the sinner's chief. Relentless love transforms my soul and its delights.

Exceeds the fleeting joys which once sufficed. Held by his love for me. A hold which sets me free.

I have my heart's desire and that is Christ. Unbounded love, unfailing love, love raised upon a tree. Unending love, prevailing love, my Savior's love for me. But our theme tonight is the grace of God. A Pauline lesson on the grace of God. Psalm 23, you're all I'm sure familiar with it.

It ends with these words, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Goodness and mercy and we could say love and grace, those wonderful salvation benefits and attributes follow us, pursue us, accompany us all the days of our life. So it is grace that saves us. It is grace that sustains us and it is grace that ultimately will lead and accompany us all the way to heaven. The Bible commands us to grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Question, how do we access the grace of God? How does the grace of God come to us? How do we access it? Well you might say, well it's something that's bestowed, it's something that's sourced in God and I agree with that.

Let me ask another challenging question. Not just how do we access the grace of God, but what does the grace of God look like? What does it look like? In Paul's letter to Titus in chapter 2, he's penned these words, for the grace of God hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. The grace of God, Paul says, that brings salvation has appeared.

It's made an appearance. Well when you think through what Paul is communicating there to Titus and to us, it's obvious to us that the grace of God is personified in the person of Jesus Christ. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared. Another way of saying the same thing is the Lord Jesus Christ who brings salvation has appeared to all men.

There's two appearings in those couple of verses. It is the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared and we are to be looking, anticipating the glorious hope and what? The blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. John 1 verse 17 tells us that the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. So how is grace accessed? What does grace look like? It's personified in the person of Jesus Christ who is the living Word, who has given us the written Word.

So again back to the question as believers, how do we access the grace of God? Well tonight I want to take you on a bit of a different journey than we typically do in a sermon. We're going to look at the salutation and the conclusion of the 13 New Testament letters that Paul the human author wrote. Of the 27 books that make up the New Testament, Paul wrote nearly half of them. And of the 17 books there are what? There are five historical books, the four gospels and the book of Acts are the five historical books.

Some would argue perhaps that the book of Revelation is historical and I believe in part that it is but the book of Revelation is in another category, it's in the category of prophecy, it's prophetic. So we have the five historical books, we have the one prophetic book which leaves us with what? 21 books, letters and of those Paul wrote 13 of them, the human author. And of those 13, 9 were written to churches and 4 were written to individuals. To the churches, he wrote to the church of Rome, he wrote to the church in Corinth, he wrote two letters to that church. He wrote to the church at Galatia, the church at Ephesus, the church at Philippi, the church at Colossae and then he wrote two letters to the church at Thessalonica that make up the nine letters to the churches. And then he wrote four individual letters.

He wrote two letters to Timothy, he wrote one letter to Titus and then he wrote a short letter to Philemon. And what I want to draw your attention tonight as we consider a Pauline lesson in the grace of God is that without exception you see a pattern in all of the Pauline letters, both the nine letters that he wrote to the churches and the four letters that he wrote to individuals, a pattern in the salutation and the conclusion in regard to the grace of God. I spoke to this a year or two, maybe three years or so ago on a Wednesday night very, very briefly and I've had cause to go back and rethink this and revisit it and to get my mind more around it and to put it into a preaching format. So that's what I'm doing tonight and I have three points to this Pauline lesson on the grace of God. I want you to see with me, number one, the promise of the grace of God. Number two, the dispensing of the grace of God.

And then finally, the retention of the grace of God. And I hope you're quick with your fingers tonight because I want you to see this pattern and it is an arresting thing to observe. So, again, we're going to walk through Paul's 13 letters very, very quickly because I want to show you this pattern. Follow with me begins in Romans. We're just going to look at the salutation, just one brief thing, and then look at the conclusion of these books, these letters. So Paul's writing to the church in Rome and he says this in verse 7 of chapter 1, To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints, grace, there's our subject, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What I want you to observe is prepositions. In all 13 letters that Paul is the human author of, inspired by God, you see this preposition in relationship to the grace of God in the salutation, the preposition to. Sometimes it's associated with peace and mercy, but grace is always present. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And then Paul communicates divine truth, and then you come to the end of Romans, in Romans chapter 16, verse 24, Paul says, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be, now a different preposition, and it is the preposition with. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Amen. That's what he says in Romans, and we're going to look quickly at the other 10 letters that he wrote and see this pattern. And this is present without exception in every single one of Paul's letters. Notice with me 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And then chapter 16, verse 23, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be what? Be with you.

There's those same two prepositions. Grace to you and the salutation. Grace be with you in the conclusion. 2 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 2. Paul's writing again to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are in all Achaia. Verse 2, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 13, he concludes this letter. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. Then Galatians chapter 1, verse 2. Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 6, verse 18, the very last verse. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit.

Amen. You say, well, can't you just say that this is true in all the letters? Do we have to look at every one?

Yeah, I think we do. I think we need to see this pattern because there's some very strong implications here and I don't want you to miss it and I certainly didn't want to miss it. So Ephesians chapter 1, verse 2. Well, verse 1. To the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful to Christ Jesus, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6, the very last thing Paul says to the church, grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

Amen. Paul's letter to the church at Philippi, verse 2, chapter 1. Grace again to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter 4, verse 23. Again, the very last thing he says in this letter. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Amen. The letter to the church at Colossae, chapter 1, verse 2. To the saints and the faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colossae, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, the very last thing he says in chapter 4, verse 18. He says, this salutation by my own hand, Paul, remember my chains, grace be with you.

Amen. And then the church at Thessalonica, chapter 1, verse 1. Paul, Savanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 5. Again, the very last thing he says in the letter, verse 28. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Amen. The second letter to the church, verse 2. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, the very last thing he says in the second letter, verse 18 of chapter 3. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Amen. And then the individual letters to Timothy. Chapter 1, verse 1.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ our hope to Timothy, a true son in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. And then the very last thing he says in that letter, grace be with you.

Amen. Chapter 6 and verse 21. The second letter, chapter 1, verse 2. To Timothy, a beloved son, grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Again, the very last thing he says, chapter 4, verse 22. The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, grace be with you.

Amen. And then Titus, chapter 1, verse 4. To Titus, a true son in our common faith, grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. And again, chapter 3 and verse 15. The last thing he says again, all who are with me greet you, greet those who love us in the faith, grace be with you all.

Amen. And then the final personal letter, the short letter to Philemon. Paul a prisoner of Christ Jesus and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, verse 3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And again, the last thing he says, verse 25 of the letter, one chapter only, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Amen. Now, that is a consistent pattern without exception. Every single one of the Pauline letters. Now, I'm convinced, and I hope you are as well, that this is not just an observation of literary style by a human author. This is supernaturally inspired scripture. God is communicating something, I believe, profound to us.

The word of God is the channel, the word of God is the means that God uses to communicate this all important supernatural supply to sustain and grow our lives. And what am I talking about? I'm talking about His grace.

Now back to my three points. Number one, the promise of the grace of God. The preposition, two, communicates source or intent. Did you notice that most of the time the grace is sourced in God the Father and other times it's sourced in God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It's got a divine source.

But here's my point. The preposition, two, communicates source or intent and thus I chose the descriptive word promise in relation to the grace of God. Paul is on the authority of the word of God, on the fact of inspiration, he is saying the grace of God to you. It's a promise, it's an intent that Paul is communicating, that God is communicating through Paul, thus the promise of the grace of God. My second point is the dispensing of the grace of God.

The dispensing of the grace of God. Paul's intent at the beginning of every one of his letters in the salutation is a declaration that God is intending to communicate grace. This all important, all pervasive message, the grace of God. And what follows the salutation is Paul's declaration of those aspects of the grace of God. And it's different depending on the church and depending on the needs but in essence it is grace that's being communicated in the transmission of the truth that Paul is giving to them.

Paul is dispensing the grace of God. So not only the promise of the grace of God and the dispensing of the grace of God but number three, the retention of the grace of God. The retention of the grace of God, the preposition with that is attached to the grace of God at the end of every single one of Paul's letters and many times it's the last thing that he says.

Nothing after it, that's the last thing he says. So the preposition with communicates God's intention not only to communicate grace and dispense grace but that this particular manifestation of grace might be with you, might stay with you. The rationale for my choosing that descriptive word, the retention in regard to the grace of God. So the promise of the grace of God, the dispensing of the grace of God and number three, the retention of the grace of God. What are some implications to this Pauline lesson on the grace of God? Well I believe there are implications for churches, for anyone who handles the word of God whether that be a pastor, whether that be a teacher and for individual believers.

Let's think about these implications. Number one, implications for churches. Paul wrote those nine letters to local churches in particular cities and what was his message to the local churches?

It was a message predominantly other things but one thing that was consistent in every single one of the letters at the very beginning in the salutation, he was alerting them that he was communicating to them a message about the grace of God. And if it was that important in the mind of God to communicate this through Paul to every one of these churches without exception, I don't think that it's any less important in our day. That that should be a predominant theme, it should characterize the message, it should permeate all that we do in the local church. The local church is not a place for entertainment, the local church is a place of dispensing truth. Truth about the grace of God.

And how have we missed that? I'm not speaking about particularly Beacon Baptist Church but I'm speaking about what we observe across the landscape in our country. Messages about anything and everything but the grace of God. So there's implications here for churches that it should drive our methodology, our theology should inform our methodology. This is a lesson in theology and our methodology ought to be connected with our understanding of theology and that's why we are who we are here at Beacon Baptist Church. Unapologetically we preach about the grace of God, we teach about the grace of God, we sing about the grace of God, we extol the virtues of the grace of God. And we should never tire of that.

And the good thing is you can't plumb the depths of that subject, we'll never get tired of it, we'll never exhaust it. There's always new things to learn about the grace of God. So number one, implications for churches. Number two, implications for pastors, for teachers. What is a pastor?

What is a teacher? A pastor or a teacher is a human instrument. To do what? To transmit a message of the grace of God. Now, not in the same way Paul did as an inspired messenger but nonetheless we stand with a message. We have been commissioned as ambassadors to represent King Jesus and his kingdom and we do not have the liberty to invent our own message, we only have a message that has been delivered to us that we're to communicate and that message is a message about the grace of God. And again, there are lots of things that we could say that would be perhaps helpful but there aren't those things that, we're only interested in doing those things that God has instructed us to do that has the blessing of God upon the spiritual well-being of people's lives.

We get all kinds of self-help, books and talks and all of that but the church should not be a place for that. We have a message that has been entrusted to us, we're to be stewards of it as pastors, as teachers and we will be judged according to our faithfulness to that charge. We have a life and death message, we have a life giving message, we hold forth the message of the grace of God that all sinners are in need of. So here are implications not only for the local church but for pastors and for teachers and then implications third for individual believers, we should never tire of hearing the word of God.

Why? Because it is through the word of God that the grace of God is communicated to us and we stand in need of it every day. If God has promised to dispense it to us as long as we're on this earth and making our way in this pilgrimage then how is God going to dispense it to us? He's going to dispense it to us through his inspired word and therefore as individual believers we should avail ourselves of every opportunity afforded to us to be where the word is preached.

Now these are unprecedented times, we understand that. You can't be present here in the service but a large number of you are gathered around your computers and receiving the word of God in that way and we're grateful for these means. But the public preaching of the word, we should have a growing hunger and thirst for that and not only that but our own personal lives, our devotional lives. We should be men and women who are given to the intake of the word of God because we know that that's how grace is going to be transmitted to us. As I've shown you here in this theological pattern in Paul's letters, we should be men and women who are given to memorizing the word of God, having it easily accessible to us.

I'm so encouraged when I hear of men who have a commute and they tell me that they download messages and they listen to preaching, they listen to various speakers to and from work, being a good steward of that time. This growing in the grace of God is not a nebulous thing. It's something that's very objective and tangible. We grow in the grace of God through these ordained means that God has given.

It's not just subjective. It's not just mystical. And I love the way Paul and other New Testament writers communicate their desire for their recipients in relation to the grace of God. They will say things like grace be added to you or at other times grace be multiplied to you. Now, as I thought about those two different ways, addition and multiplication, and I thought about, okay, in what ways is grace multiplied to us as opposed to simply added to us? And I thought about concentrated times that are purposeful around the word of God.

For instance, we have a Bible conference coming up. There will be a concentrated time around the word of God, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Monday afternoon. And as we give ourselves to those times of the public ministry of the word, I believe those are times that God multiplies grace to us. Now, it's just not in the transmission of the grace of God. There has to be a reciprocal response on the other end of the grace of God. We can have a heart that is cold and indifferent and insensitive, and our heart can be as hard as stone, and there's not the reception of the word of God.

And thus, we don't profit from the grace of God that comes to us. I heard somebody talk to me recently about a grandchild and how that grandchild, I'm thinking it was nine or ten years of age, in one year, measurably grew four inches. And I'm thinking, that's not just adding stature to your life, that's stature being multiplied to your life.

And you see, we don't grow in that dimension at all the time. There are seasons, and I believe God ordained seasons for our life, concentrated times where our heart is more suitable toward the intake of the grace of God. Our schedules are freer, our commitments are more in keeping with this. Concentrating times at Bible college and seminary in preparation for ministry. Those were times that grace was multiplied to me.

And we could think of other particulars that would flesh that out. But grace being added to us, grace being multiplied to us, but we are commanded to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of God. So I trust that you will benefit from this theological lesson on the grace of God, that you'll have a new appreciation, that God is conveying to us His intent, His purpose in exposing us to the word of God. We stand in need of grace, God knows that, and God has arranged the means for grace to be transmitted to us.

We have the promise of it, right? We have the promise of the grace of God, and we have the hope by the Spirit of God's help, the retention of the word of God as it's transmitted to us. So when you approach the word of God, whether it be in a public setting or whether it be in a personal setting, I hope that it does something to convict us of perhaps a lackadaisical attitude. We have to come to the word of God with a fresh appreciation. God has a desire, a purpose, an intent to communicate grace to me right now through this means.

And therefore, I'm open to it, I want to see it, I want to receive it, I want to benefit from it. Oh God may it be added to me, oh God may it be multiplied to me. For my good, for my growth, for my growth in Christ's likeness, for my conformity to the person that God intends for me to be. That I will be one day when God is done, when God is through with His redeeming purposes in my life and in your life. So thank you tonight for following this.

It's been, as I spoke to you earlier, it's a little out of the ordinary. But I think something I found to be very, very, very helpful, and I trust that you will retain this message and perhaps pass it on to some others. Use it in your devotions, use it in your family times. What a way to convey to our children the importance of sitting humbly and submissively under the word of God, knowing God's intent. God has promised to meet our need for the grace of God. God has shown us how He will communicate that grace of God. And as that grace has been communicated to us, we have it, it's with us.

Therefore we can retain it for our benefit and for our growth. Shall we pray? Father, thank you for your supernatural inspired word. We thank you that it is sufficient for all of life and godliness.

We thank you that it is able to save to the uttermost. And we thank you that it is the means whereby babes grow up into mature men and women. Lord, use that in our hearts and lives. Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. And Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 20:56:11 / 2024-02-25 21:07:58 / 12

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