Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, January ninth. Do you feel like you know enough about the grace of God that you could clearly explain it to someone?
Today's podcast starts a series of messages that explains how grace changes everything. I want to ask you to just put your mind in neutral just for a moment. And what I'd like to do is I would like to mention one word. And what I want you to think about is once I speak this word, I want you to think that what's the first thing that comes to your mind? The word is God. What's the first thing that came to your mind? Was it father, judge, guilt, fear, love? What came to your mind?
Maybe there was a sudden sense of emptiness, or maybe there was a sense of intimacy. What came to your mind? You see, why that's so important is this. Many people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior have a very, very inaccurate view of who God is. And if you ask them who He is, they would say, well, God is love, God is light, God is good, and God is kind, God is this and God is that.
He's much more than all of that. And so, whereas you and I could choose this word or that, I want to talk about God in the light of a particular word that best describes who He is in the life of a believer. And I want you to turn, if you will, to First Peter chapter five, and I want to give you a little background before we start talking about the message. And I want us to think in terms of our God of all grace.
Our God of all grace, or we can just say our God of grace. Who is He? What is He like? And how does He relate to your life?
And do you see Him in that way? Well, First Peter was written by Peter, more than likely from Rome, and he was writing to a group of Christians who had been savagely persecuted by the Romans. That is, they had nothing.
And they were scattered in these different areas, not too far around the Mediterranean area there. And so, he was writing to them to encourage them and to help them understand in the situation, circumstance they were in, for them to understand that the grace of God was evident and the grace of God was there to help them through circumstances in their life. And all of us have been through those difficult trying circumstances. And so, beginning in this eighth verse, he says to them, be of, chapter five now, be of sober spirit, be on the alert, your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. But resist him firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, look at that, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
And we read the latter part of that. Now, if someone should ask you, what do you mean by grace? What would you say? So, one of the first things I want us to do is I want us to define what grace is. Because oftentimes people think they know what it, a particular word means. And we sing Amazing Grace, how sweet this sound, that saved a wretch like me. And, but the question is, do you understand what it means? And secondly, what part does grace have in your life? And how do you relate the grace of God to your everyday living? So, I think, first of all, we have to decide what does it mean. So, grace is God's undeserved, unearned favor, goodness and love toward us. Now, it's very important we look at one of those words. It's His unearned, undeserved favor, which includes His goodness, His love, His kindness toward us.
Now, why do we say unearned? Because, watch this carefully, you cannot have grace and work for it. A person, for example, who is saying, well, I know I'm going to heaven because I'm a good person. And here are the things that I do and here are the things I don't do.
Then you haven't gotten the message. Because you see, what you're doing is you're working toward, you're attempting to pay for your salvation. And the Bible states very clearly in Ephesians two, eight, and nine, For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any person should boast. Listen to that, not of works, lest any person should boast.
So, the person who expects to be saved by being good to other people or giving to church or going to church, pray, whatever it might be, if you're expecting to be accepted by Almighty God as a result of that, first of all, it's not true, it will not happen, and secondly, how will you ever know whether you're going to be saved or not? How many works do you have to do? What quality of work must you do? How long must you work? Where must you work?
What kind of work must you do? And so, the truth is you can't answer any of those questions. So, if your acceptance before God and your entrance into heaven depends in any way upon what you do and what I do, we will never get there, because He says our righteousness, that is our works, are like filthy rags in His sight. Because what we do is we forget this. We talk about our works, but we forget our sinfulness. That is, you and I came into this world with a sinful nature, and we have operated out of that sinful nature. Those of us who've trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, something happened to us. Life is transformed, our whole attitude. He says, therefore, if any man be in Christ, he's a new creature.
Old things have passed away, something happened to him. Something happened in our life, and we're changed persons. We don't live that way again. And so, the person who's expecting to be accepted in the eyes of God, you're going to be eternally disappointed. Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saves us.
So, what I want you to see is this, that grace is unearned. It cannot be earned. There is no way to earn His favor.
You cannot earn His kindness and His love and His goodness. You cannot do it because that's the human heart of us. That's our nature. We're sinful human beings. So, what we have to ask is then what shall we do?
What do we do? That is, if a person says, look, I want to do the right thing. Well, that's something you have to realize very clearly.
And I'm emphasizing this because it is a major factor. I want you to turn, if you will, to the eleventh chapter of Romans, because what we're talking about is exactly where most people live and what they think. You can ask people on your job. You can ask them in many churches. When you die and you stand before God, why do you think He's going to take you into heaven?
Ninety percent of them probably, maybe more than that, depends on who you ask and where. But most people are going to say, well, you know, I try to live a good life and I wouldn't even question it. Try to live a good life. I haven't done this, haven't done that. Try to be kind to other people and do an honest day's labor.
None of that works. Because you see, if that's the way you're going to get into heaven, what you're saying is, God, I'm paying my way. You can't pay your way. I want to give you a verse of Scripture that just nails this down. Romans chapter eleven, look if you will in verse six. He says, but if it's by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works. Otherwise, grace is no longer grace. That is, if you came to me and wanted to give me a gift, and I insisted on paying you for it, and you took the money, what I did is I bought it.
If you handed it to me and I accept it as a gift, then I have received a gift. You cannot buy salvation. You cannot buy grace. You cannot purchase what God has provided through His Son, Jesus Christ.
And this is the issue here. Most people believe that somehow if they're good enough, they're going to make it. The whole emphasis of the Word of God, and I'll show you in a few moments, is that you and I are saved by the grace of God. That is, His unearned can't pay for it, can't work for it. Undeserved, there's nothing we'll ever do to deserve it. Unearned, undeserved favor, that is goodness and love and kindness toward us, that we do not deserve.
And a person who says, well, I deserve to go to heaven, hasn't taken a good look at themself recently. Because the truth is, not a single one of us does. What could you and I ever do to deserve eternal life?
We could never do anything. And I wanted you to go back and look at it again. If you say, well, if I'm good enough, how good is that? More than likely, you're going to compare your goodness with somebody else's kind of lifestyle. And so, from your perspective, you're doing pretty good. But then if you compared yourself to some other saint of God, you'd say, well, I'm not doing so. You say, what I want you to say would be total confusion.
You'll never make it like that. It is by the grace of God. And the grace of God in its greatest expression is that God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world to die a substitutionary, all-sufficient, listen, vicarious sacrifice at Calvary, laid down His life, shed His blood, made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. And now, God can express His grace upon us because our sin debt has been paid in full.
Nothing else pays that sin debt in full but the righteousness of Christ and His death at Calvary. So, when He speaks here in this chapter, and He speaks in terms of the God of all grace, what is He referring to? He's referring to this, that all the good things that come your way and my way have come by the grace of God, His goodness, His love, His kindness, unearned and undeserved, which means you and I are totally dependent upon Him. And therefore, when you look at your life in that light, then you and I will have a sense of humility. We don't deserve what God has sent us. We don't deserve the good things He's sent our way. And so, when we understand what true, genuine grace is all about, then there's going to be that sense of humility and that sense of desire to walk righteously before Him and deserve Him and to give ourselves to Him because we don't deserve what He has sent into our life. God wants us to have a spirit of humility.
Why? Because the truth is we are totally dependent upon Him. If He were not for the grace of God, listen, we would not have good health, you would not have your job. In other words, we could just go right down the list of all the ways God expresses goodness and kindness and love, His undeserved, unearned favor, His grace. Grace, He says, be to you. And peace from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
Why? Because we all need it. And ending every single one of His letters with that simple phrase, grace be to you, grace be with you.
Well, why did He do that? Because He wanted them to understand that's what the Christian life is, it's a life lived under and by and in the grace of Almighty God. Not what we deserve, but something far better than that. Now, if you think about grace, G-R-A-C-E, look at this, God's riches at Christ's expense. God's riches at Christ's expense. That is, every good thing that comes your way and my way comes to us by, listen, and through and because of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Now, watch this. When God said to mankind, The soul that sinneth it shall die, the wages of sin is death. Man sinned against God and therefore for God to be who He is, then he had to deal with this.
And that is man sinned. But in the coming of Jesus Christ, which was His gift of grace, He paid our sin debt in full, and having paid our sin debt in full, it makes it possible for God to do what? To be gracious to us. To forgive us of our sin because His Son paid our sin debt in full.
Otherwise, we would have had to pay it. Everywhere you turn in your life, there is the grace of God, goodness and kindness and favor, unearned and undeserved. And remember He said, if you try to earn it, then all of a sudden you're in the works. Now, it's interesting that He also brings up the idea that there is the throne of grace. Go back, if you will, to Hebrews, a wonderful passage, a comforting passage in Hebrews chapter four. And look, if you will, at this, at the fifteenth verse. Look at the fifteenth verse.
And notice what He says when you start with verse fourteen. He says, Therefore since we have a great high priest, speaking of Jesus, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. That is, don't surrender your confession of faith.
That is, be strong in it. We do not have a high priest who can't sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Now, that's the throne of grace. I want you to turn, if you will, to the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, last book in the Bible. Turn to the twentieth chapter, if you will, and I want us to look at another throne, because this is the throne of grace. This is where you and I come to talk to the Father, to receive His goodness and kindness and mercy and so forth. Look, if you will, in the twentieth chapter and eleventh verse, "'Then I saw a great white throne, and Him who set upon it from whose presence earth and heaven fled away.
No place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne.' Books were opened," and He says, "'And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them. They were judged, every one of them, according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire," which is the second death, the lake of fire, "'and if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.'" That is not the throne you want to be going to.
You say, well, when does that happen? At the very end of the ages when God finalizes all of His judgment, and those who have never trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, those who've ignored God, rebelled against Him, transgressed His law, they'll stand in that judgment and be judged for all eternity. That is the great white throne judgment.
But listen to what He says, and we just read a few moments ago in the fourth chapter. He says, "'Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.'" That is, there is a place that you and I can go when we have needs. There's a place that you and I can go when we have hurts and pain and persecution and all the things that happen in a person's life. He says He's encouraging us to come to Him, to the throne of grace.
And so what happens? When we come to Him, we're not being received and accepted and answered on a basis of what we deserve or, listen, or what we have accomplished in life. Not what we've earned, we can't work for it, it's just what? His grace. And that is something that you and I have to realize is an absolute, pure gift of God. And that's what He says, for example, in First Corinthians when Paul was talking and the very beginning of the book. And he makes the statement very clear that grace is a gift.
Here's what he says in the first chapter. He says, for example, he introduces the book and he says, Paul calls an apostle of Jesus Christ for the will of God and so then he's our brother. To the church of God which is at current, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling. And he moves on down, he says in verse three, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus. So God has given to every single one of us, listen, the awesome gift of grace. Now what does that include? It includes every single thing that you and I need.
It includes every single thing that you and I desire that fits His will and purpose and plan for our life. And so we have the awesome privilege of going to Him. And we don't have to go wandering and fretting and saying, Oh God, I know I don't deserve it. And oftentimes I'll hear somebody say, Well, you know, I don't deserve to be heard by God.
Join the whole crowd. None of us deserve it. Notice what grace is. It's undeserved and unearned.
You'll never deserve it and you can't ever buy it. It's the goodness and love and kindness of God. It's His awesome gift to you and me that we can live under the canopy of His grace. We can live on the highway of His grace. We can live by His grace, in His grace, under His grace, on His grace, every single moment of our life. That's the goodness of God. Thank you for listening to our God of grace. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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