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Grace On Display - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2023 12:00 am

Grace On Display - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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January 11, 2023 12:00 am

Learn from the life of Paul how God's grace is available to all—no matter what we have done.


Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Wednesday, January eleventh. Before Paul met Jesus Christ, he hunted down and killed Christians. But he was never beyond the reach of God.

Let's learn from Paul's life in part one of Grace on Display. You're not a Christian you don't even claim to be. You know that you're living in sin and you just keep on heading in that direction. There have been times when you wished you could do something else. You could change your life, but somehow you haven't figured that out yet. In fact, sometimes you think, I think I'll just not believe in God anymore and just forget the whole thing.

But you can't do that. You look back in your life and you see what you've left behind. Heartache, troubles, difficulty, hardship, the way you've treated people, mistreated them.

Money you've wasted, time you've wasted. And you think, how could God ever do anything with a person like me? And I want to tell you, you don't have to give up. Because I'm going to share with you the most awesome news any person can ever hear.

You may have heard about it before, but you're going to hear about it maybe a little different way today. And it's my prayer that you'll listen carefully in whatever else you may be doing. I hope you'll lay it down, lay it aside, and sit down and listen carefully.

Because this could be the most important hour in your whole life. God can transform your circumstance and your situation no matter what. Because what I want to talk about is this, grace on display. And if you have a Bible, I want you to turn, if you will, to First Timothy. And so, I want us to begin with verse twelve of first chapter, First Timothy. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners among whom I am foremost of all. Yet, for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now, to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.

Amen. Now, what I want us to do in this message is this. I want us to look at life before grace. And I want us to look at life by grace. And I want us to look at life in grace.

So, I want us to think for just a moment. I want you to turn, if you will, to Ephesians chapter. Look in Ephesians chapter two, because here is an example of what life is like before grace with everyone. You say, well, I was saved when I was in a very early part of my life. Well, that's fine, but that doesn't mean that you weren't a sinner. And so, look at what he says in Ephesians two beginning in verse one. He's writing to Christians now and here's what he says, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, that means you had no spiritual life and you were dead to the things of God, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world.

That is, you were just doing what the world does. According to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, which is satanic power. Among them, listen to what Paul says, we too all formerly lived in the lust of our flesh. He says, indulging the desires of the flesh, of our carnal nature, and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. That's life before grace. All of us have been there and all of us would have to acknowledge in our life that before we trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, you know, we were not the kind of person we ought to be. And so, what I want you to see now, that's life before grace. I want you to see what life was like before grace in a particular person. And that is in Saul of Tarsus. We call him Paul the Apostle. But I want us to look what, see what life was like before grace in his life. And when you begin to think about that, and you begin to look at his life, and the first time you see Paul, we'll come to it in just a moment, he's the Saul of Tarsus at that time.

And he's into something that his life began to be a part of in the most awful way. And I'm going to show you, I'm going to read a few passages of Scripture with you, and then I'm going to show you just how awful this man was. Because we don't usually think about that. Well, he was a missionary and he understand the truth of God's Word, and understanding it as he did, that he wrote these letters for us.

Now we're blessed. But what was he like before the grace of God came into his life? Because you see, many of you may feel in your heart that God could never forgive you of your sins because of all the things you've done. And you can list a few things that you think are absolutely terrible, and you know that it's a violation of the Word of God. And you say, well, you know, how could I be forgiven of my sin having done all these things?

Well, I'm going to answer that question. Well, let me tell you a little something about him. Paul was born in Tarsus.

And it was a small city, but it became a big city, about ten miles inland in the Mediterranean. And he was educated by one of the finest educators, by Gamaliel. And he was a tent maker by trade because the Jews believed that every young man should have some kind of trade in case he needed it sometime in his life, whatever he may be doing. And he was wrapped up in Judaism.

That is, he knew it. And he says in one passage, we'll read. He says that he was really above and beyond all of his peers.

He exceeded them in every way in his study and his understanding and knowledge of the Old Testament. So, this is the kind of man he was. He was a very religious man, religious but blind, religious but lost, religious but truly separated from God. Now, he was that kind of man. And what I want you to notice here is, as you look at his life, what kind of life he developed.

Religious, educated, leader, all that. But listen to what the Scripture says. And all of these things that I'm going to say are confessions of the apostle Paul himself. It's not that somebody else is accusing him of this.

This is what he himself is saying about himself. And so, I want you to begin with turning to the eighth chapter of Acts. We're going to stay in Acts for a few moments. And look in this eighth chapter, and here we find Paul. But I want you to, I want us to go back to the seventh chapter for a moment. And here is Stephen, one of God's servants, being stoned to death. And the Scripture says in the fifty-eighth verse of the seventh chapter, But when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him. And the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. Look, if you will, now in chapter eight, verse one.

Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day, a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentations over him. Watch this, but Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Now, with that passage, I want us to look at chapter nine for a moment and look how it begins. And this is a conversation here about his salvation, but I just want us to read this first part. Now Saul's still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogue in Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And I want you to turn, if you will, to the twenty-six chapter.

And now he is defending himself before Agrippa and confessing his past. And here's what he said in verse nine. So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem. Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death, I cast my vote against them.

That is, put them to death. He says, and as I punished them, often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme and being infuriously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. Now, look at this man.

He has one goal, eradicate the Christian faith, blaspheme the name of Jesus, destroy the church, remove it from the face of the earth, so that there's not only no influence, but no evidence of it. Now, usually when you think about the apostle Paul, you think of this very godly man. This is Paul the apostle before grace.

And I want to say this to you. Many of you who may be listening, you look back at your life and you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, so you're in the stage of before grace. Look at your life. You may have done none of those particular things, but you've disobeyed God, you've transgressed the law of God, you've lived in sin, you've done many, many things. I won't name your sins. I don't know what they are. That's none of my business.

But you know what they are. And you know that you've violated the law of God. You may have criticized the laws of God. You may have laughed at the Bible in church. And you may have said in your own mind, there's nothing to any of that.

I want no part of that in my life. That's just a bunch of weak folks who go to church. We, the church shouldn't even be around.

Maybe you'd fall in the category of those who are before grace. Now listen, the Scripture says, He assisted in the death of Stephen. He consented to it. He destroyed people. He intruded into their homes, dragging them out, husbands and wives and probably children.

Imprisoning them, threatening them, killing them, binding them, persecuting them, punishing them, beating them, opposing them, voting for their death, torturing them to rekindle their faith, raging against them, blaspheming and injuring them. And this man's in the Bible? This man's a Christian?

Yes. And here's the reason. Because you see, the grace of God can reach out to anyone no matter who they are. No matter who you are, you could never say, I've done all those things. Very few folks are going to be accused of that. And what I want you to see is that nobody accused Paul of that. He is the one who confessed his own sinfulness.

And he says, this is how wicked and vile and sinful and murderous that he was. Murdered people. Dragging families out of their homes and hauling them off to prison.

Either taking the children or leaving them alone. You see, that's what sin does. Sin reaches into a person's life to many different degrees. And while all those things would never be a part of your life, think of the things that are, that ought not to be. And the question is, is there any hope?

And the truth is, yes, there is hope. And here's what I want you to notice. You listen and say, Amen. Paul did not have one single thing to do with his salvation. God changed him in a few moments. He didn't work for it because all his work had been treacherous, horrible, destroying people in the church of God. And so, what happened? God reached down, got his attention, parentheses scared him to death. Got his attention, revealed Himself to him as the very Lord and Savior whom he hated and despised and was trying. Listen, at the threat of death, if they did not recant, turn away from Jesus Christ, say they don't believe Him anymore, He put them to death. Something had happened to this man.

And here's what happened. The grace of God, His goodness and love and favor, looked down upon this man who was the ringleader of the church assassinations and did what? He broke his will, he broke his heart, he broke through his blindness and revealed himself to him and saved him.

Listen to me carefully. You can never take credit for being saved. It's something that God has done. You say, Well, but so-and-so told me about it. That may have been the channel, but it's God who spoke to them and got you saved.

It is an act of the goodness and love and kindness of Almighty God. And here's what happened to him. He was saved, and as a result, God made him. This is what he says. He says, back in First Timothy, he says, God's made me an example.

And this is exactly what he did there. He says, For this reason I found the mercy so that in me the foremost of sinners Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. But the truth is, all of us should be an example. Every believer should be an example of the grace and goodness and love and mercy of God, because you and I have trusted Him as our Savior. We ask Him to forgive us of our sins, and He did. And a person says, Well, but you know what? You just don't know how wicked and sinful I've been.

Did you see that list? And God saved him. If God would save him, He will save you if you will acknowledge Him and turn your life over to Him and surrender yourself to Him and confess your sins, confess your wickedness, repent of your sins, turn away from that and trust Him to forgive you and to cleanse you and to make you a brand new person. He's willing.

He's ready. Because you see, that's who God is. And as I think about many people who say, Well, I've tried to do better and I've tried to please God. Listen, you can't please God until the grace of God has been received by you in the gift of salvation.

You can't please Him because you're operating out of a sinful nature. And you see, you can't be good enough. You cannot earn it. It's something you have to receive. Not something, but somebody. It is forgiveness you receive, but it's the person also that you receive. That's the person of Jesus Christ. You may have been to church for years and years and years.

You've done a lot of good things, given a lot of money, done a lot of this, that, and the other. But until you personally acknowledge your sinfulness, that you may be saying, Well, I'm not so bad. Compared to who?

You see, all of us can find somebody that we might think we're better than. But listen, you're comparing yourself with Jesus Christ. He's the only sinless one. And because He was willing to lay down His life at Calvary, shedding His blood, which was the payment for your sin, now you can be forgiven and cleansed and have a brand new life. Listen, what grace is all about is taking people like you and me and forgiving us of our sins, rescuing us from a life of sin, making us a whole brand new person, giving us a whole new future, giving us a way of life that is pleasing and honorable, and giving us the gift of eternal life. That's what grace is all about. It's not about church. It's not about organizations.

It's about a relationship. And some of you have probably said, Well, you know, I've been to church and that didn't work. Your church where you visited may not have worked, but the grace of God works. The gospel of Jesus Christ has always worked.

Sometimes people just don't believe and sometimes maybe they've been misled and sometimes they've been told things that are not true. But I'm here to tell you, here's what the Bible says, For God so loved the world, includes you and me, whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life because He gave His only begotten Son at Calvary. That's what this cross business is all about. It's about the grace of God paying your sin debt in full because you can't pay it. The cross is all about God's love. It's all about His redeeming you. It's all about His transforming your life.

It's all about making you a brand new person. That's what grace is all about. And this is what happened to the apostle Paul. On the Damascus road, God reached down in His loving favor and did what? Transformed his life. Listen, this murderer became a missionary and this man who plotted against the church became a preacher of the gospel of the church.

He absolutely, totally revolutionized and transformed his life. He can do the same thing to you because God is in the process of doing so. That's what God is up to all over the world, changing people's lives, making them godly, making them His sermons, transforming them for all eternity. And you may be thinking, well, could He do that to me?

Yes, He can. There's no such thing as an exception when somebody says, well, watch this. Somebody says, well, now I know God could do that for so and so, but you know what I, you know what you just did?

You just expressed the most awesome sense of pure pride. You mean you are an exception to the grace of God? You're an exception? Listen, you're an exception to this awesome gift of salvation that God has provided for every single person? And the truth is this, that when Jesus went to the cross, He offered, listen, He paid the sin debt of the whole world, past, present, and future, and He made it possible for everyone to be saved if they would receive Him as their Lord and Savior.

You cannot have sinned so badly that God won't save you. Thank you for listening to Grace On Display. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-11 03:04:15 / 2023-01-11 03:12:30 / 8

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