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A God of Grace - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
June 24, 2023 12:00 am

A God of Grace - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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June 24, 2023 12:00 am

Jesus' death on the cross made it possible for us to receive God's grace.

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Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Churchgoers might be familiar with the concept of grace, but do you know how it applies to your life every day? Today's podcast begins a series of messages revealing the truth about grace. to explain what God is like. Well, then after you did your best at that, then suppose they said, well, how does God feel toward me? How would you describe how God feels toward a person? Then they said, for example, well, then how should I feel toward God?

What would you say to that question? How should they respond and how should they act toward God? When this conversation's all over and that person walked away, would they walk away discouraged, confused, feeling inadequate, feeling less than, feeling that there's not much real hope of their ever being able to have a relationship with this God? Or would they feel confident, assured, a sense of security that somehow they'd be able to have a personal relationship with this God?

How would they feel? And so when you think about what people believe about God, no wonder some people don't want Him in their life because they don't see Him as a help. They see Him as an obstruction. They see Him as a barrier.

They see Him as an irritant. And you see, if you don't understand Him and all you know about Him is what some people say about Him, that's exactly the way you'll respond. But I want to talk about who He really is. I want to talk about what God says He is and the emphasis, the whole emphasis of the New Testament. And Peter said, He's the God of all grace. So I want you to turn to, if you will, I want you to turn to 1 Peter.

What I want you to see in this message is this. What's the truth about God? What's He really like? And how am I to approach Him?

How am I to relate to Him? Can I have a true, genuine, intimate relationship with this God, this God of the Bible? So listen to what Peter says, beginning in verse six. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

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, that is Satan, 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, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Do you see anything in that passage about harshness, about judgmental attitude, about any of the things that oftentimes people, the way they view God? He's not hovering over you, looking for something to condemn you for.

Look at all this. He says, cast all your cares upon Him. He cares for you. He says, after you've suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Well, when I think about how people feel about God and the way they think, let's think about the way some people think about Him.

Well, naturally, something like that. Well, naturally, some people say, well, there is no such thing as God. God is a mental concept. He is the creation of those who are weak, and therefore, they have to have something to believe in, somebody to depend upon. And so, God is the creation of man's own mental gyrations.

And so, they choke him off. Then there are those, for example, who say that God is an impersonal force. There's this impersonal force in the universe somewhere. It is not attainable.

It is not reachable. It is not an inanimate object. It's impersonal.

It cannot help you. It's just this impersonal force out there somewhere that sort of governs things. Then there are, of course, those people who believe that God is this benevolent Father who only sees good in all of His children. And therefore, they parade the theology that one of these days, no matter what happens and no matter who you are and how you act, God's going to take us all to heaven. We're going to all end up in the same place. So, don't let it bother you.

That's how we're all going to be. Then there are, of course, those people who believe that God is a God of law and justice and judgment and condemnation. And so, they see Him ruling and reigning from His throne. And He's got a record book. He's keeping score, scoring how many sins we commit. He's keeping a record of all the bad things we do. And therefore, He has rules and regulations and laws, and we have to live up to these laws and these regulations. We have to perform in order to be accepted by this God. And if we're to be accepted by Him, we're only accepted if we perform properly. And so, what happens is they live in the bondage of a God of fear and a God of condemnation, a God of judgment, a God who operates on the basis of laws and rules and regulations. And so, what happens? God almost becomes an enemy, an enemy to their peace and happiness and contentment because, you see, they're trying to live up to some ethereal kind of person out there somewhere they believe in, can't be touched, can't be felt.

It's almost like He's unattainable. But what I want you to see is this, that the emphasis when you come to the New Testament, for example, you come to the New Testament and what you're going to find, you're going to find the entire emphasis on the goodness and the grace and the love of Almighty God. Do you know that the only people Jesus ever really got on their case, and I mean scold them and condemned them and judged them, were the religious leaders, not the sinners out there. The woman at the well had been married five times. He didn't say anything like that to her. Zacchaeus was a tax collector.

He found him up the tree and he'd been cheating people. And it was a dishonor to his own country because he's working for the Romans. He didn't say those things like that against him. Woman caught in the very act of adultery. He didn't condemn her. Where do we get this kind of God who's keeping score? You don't find that in the New Testament. So I want you to look, for example, for a moment in John, the first chapter.

Let's clear up something here. John chapter one, beginning in verse fourteen. And the word became flesh, that is, God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, because he and the Father won. Listen to this, full of grace and truth, not full of condemnation and judgment, full of grace and truth, full of grace and truth, not full of law and judgment. John testified about him and cried out, saying, This was he of whom I said, This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for he has existed before me, for of his fullness we have all received. And listen to this, grace upon grace. John the Baptist, Old Testament prophet, last of the Old Testament prophets, came to introduce the Lord Jesus Christ, identified him down at the river as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Here's what he said. He said he's full of grace and truth. And he says, speaking of himself too, we have all received grace upon grace. What does grace upon grace means?

It's exactly what it means. It means this, God who expresses his grace toward us in so many ways. Now let me define grace. Grace is God's goodness and kindness that is manifested toward us that has nothing to do with how much we are worth or whether we deserve it or not, has nothing to do with the fact that we merit it.

It is in spite of the fact that we do not deserve it. So that God's grace is his goodness and favor toward us without regard to our worth or whether we merit it or not because we could not. And so what happens is that God dispenses grace to you and me in multitudes of ways. For example, you slept all night and you awoke this morning.

You awakened this morning and you are alive. That was an act of God's grace. You're healthy, you're strong, an act of God's grace. You have clothes to wear, an act of God's grace, something to drive at God's grace, your place you live. In fact, God is dispensing his grace continuously, unendingly all the time to us.

And so oftentimes we miss it. We don't even recognize these are genuine expressions of the grace of God. We think in terms of what we do and what we've achieved, what we've accomplished and what we have and what we've saved in our security, you have nothing apart from the grace of God.

And all you can do is scrape and grovel in life, trying to get a little bit more happiness, a little bit more peace, a little bit more joy, only to realize it's not going to ever happen. And so the truth is we are all recipients of grace. Now, what does he mean when he says grace upon grace?

Here's what he means. That God graces us with his goodness and kindness. And you know what? Before we can even finish enjoying that, what's he done?

He just piled on some more and some more and some more and some more. And every single aspect of your life what's God doing? He's expressing his love and goodness and kindness and graciousness to us all the time.

Then notice what he says. For the law, that is the law of Moses, all those ceremonial laws and social laws of the Old Testament were given through Moses, grace and truth were realized, became a living reality through the Lord Jesus Christ. Now in the Old Testament you say, well, what was the good of all that? God chose a nation of people, a group of people from Abraham originally and then of course the whole Hebrew nation. God raised that nation up to do what? To teach them the truth in order that they may teach the world around them the truth. And so we have the Ten Commandments, he gave them social laws, he gave them ceremonial laws and all of those things which Jesus said that when he came, he came and he fulfilled all that.

He didn't violate the law, he fulfilled it. In, for example, his death at Calvary when he died on the cross, he fulfilled finally, totally and completely the requirements of Almighty God that sin could only be atoned for, paid for by the shedding of blood. All the sheep and the doves and the calves and all the rest in the Old Testament were symbols foreshadowing of that which was to come. So when they came to bring their lamb before the priest with their confessing their sin, putting their hand on the lamb, the priest would cut his throat, shed the blood and as a result they were forgiven. Now what was it that brought about their forgiveness? It was their faith in their obedience that this lamb, which of course they didn't fully understand at all at that point, then shedding the blood of that lamb, God recognized the shedding of that blood which was the life of the lamb and forgave them of their sin. What was the lamb but a foreshadowing of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? So the truth is, even then God was saving them by grace, by his goodness and kindness and love, which they did not understand at that time. That's why, here's what he says, that when Jesus came, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. That is, it became very clear and very known, this is the way God operates. It was the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary, that's why the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom, no more sacrifices, that's all over. Jesus says, I've come to fulfill the law, not to violate it. So while in the Old Testament the emphasis was law, teaching and instructing the people how to live and live a sanctified life, that's why some places you couldn't touch them, things you couldn't touch, why they were sacred unto God. This was a process of learning. Now, in the New Testament, we live in the day of grace and Jesus came to explain and to personify that very message of grace.

And this is why you see him in dealing with all the kind of people he dealt with. He's not condemning them and judging them. What is he doing? Lifting them up, encouraging them, forgiving them. He said to that woman coming back to adultery, neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. To Zacchaeus, come down, I know what you're doing.

I'm going home and have lunch with you today. And so what do you see Jesus doing? Forgiving, helping, loving, encouraging, all through his ministry.

You and I live in an age of absolute grace. Now, when you look at how people think about God, you see, here's what I want you to understand. If you don't understand who Jesus is, you don't understand why he came, you don't understand what he's up to, you don't understand his viewpoint, you don't see his point in your life, you think about God out yonder somewhere and you can't quite figure him out and you think, well, I want to trust this God, I want to believe in this God. You leave Jesus out of it.

You know what? There's this big void. There's this big vacuum because what you will naturally do, you will end up trying to live up to. You'll end up trying to measure up.

Measure up to what? To your interpretation of what this God who rules and reigns up yonder somewhere is all about. That is not who Jesus is. That's not the God of grace the Bible talks about.

The God of grace so loved you and me that he sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ into this world, demonstrating what the Father's like, a God of grace and love and mercy and forgiveness and kindness, and then dying on the cross, making it possible for anybody and everyone who really and truly desires to have a relationship with the Father to have an intimate personal relationship with God. So I want to say to you, my friend, no matter what you have been taught, no matter what you have heard, no matter what God you have believed in, no matter what prophet you may have heard or taught about, let me ask a question. Does it sound like the one true God that he's lurching over you, waiting to condemn you, that you have to wake up in the morning knowing that you're waking up to a God who is angry with you? Who said he's angry with you? Did Jesus lead the message that the Father is angry at you, that he's going to condemn you, that he's keeping score on you today, measure up? Does he ever say measure up?

No. You know why? Because he's a loving God. And the Lord Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the law that Moses talked about, the final death of the Son of God, who was God in Christ Jesus walking among men. When he died, the sin that of the entire world was paid. If God were an angry God lurking over you and waiting for you to do something wrong, why would he send his only begotten Son to make it possible for you to be saved, forgiven and to live in peace and joy and happiness and contentment in your life?

It doesn't make sense because it's not true. What is the truth about this God? Well, when you come to the New Testament, for example, here's what you find. You find that the word grace is all through the New Testament. God's goodness and kindness and love toward us in spite of what we deserve, not because we deserve it or because we have an emerits on our part, but just because he's a God of love. And what you discover is this, all through the New Testament, the theme is grace. God's goodness and love and mercy toward his children. Do we stand against him?

Yes. What's grace all about? Forgiveness, kindness and understanding. Does that mean we can live any old way you want to live and get by with it? No, because God disciplines his children. And sometimes discipline is very painful. You say, well, if he loves me and if it's a God of grace, what's this discipline business?

If God did not discipline us when we step out of line, if he did not discipline us when we sin against him, that wouldn't be a God of grace. That's not kindness. That's not goodness. That's not love. Allowing us to get by with something that he knows will cause us to ultimately destroy a life could not possibly be an act of grace.

It is an act of careless indifference. That's not who he is. He's a God of grace. And so all through the Scriptures and what you'll find when you read the epistles, for example, in every single epistle that Paul wrote from Romans all the way to Titus, here's the way he begins his salutation. He will say greetings or whatever it might be in every single one of you can look them up in the Bible. In every single salutation, he will say something like this. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Why would he say that in every single epistle? Do you know how he closes every single one of them? Here's how he closes every single one of them. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Why? Because he's trying to get across the message of who God is. He is this awesome God of inestimable, indescribable, fathomless grace. Goodness and love and mercy.

That's the message he wants us to understand. What motivates us to love God is the love of God. What motivates us to want to serve him is his grace and goodness and love and kindness toward us.

That's what motivates us. And so when you look at the scriptures and you find Peter saying, the God of all grace, and you see over and over and over again, the word grace, grace, grace. For example, all of Paul's theology is wrapped up in that word. He says, for example, Ephesians 2 8 9, for by grace have you been saved through faith and that not of yourselves.

It's the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Then he says in Romans chapter 5 verse one to there, he says, he speaks of this grace where in we stand. That is the believer stands upon the foundation, unmovable foundation of grace all the time. We live under the canopy of God's grace. We're surrounded by the wall of God's grace. We are the children of grace. Amazing grace has sweet the sound that saved the wretch like me. Once was lost, but now I'm found blind, but now I'm seeing the grace, the goodness, the love of almighty God, reaching down in your heart, in my heart.

And what does he say? He says, for example, it is the grace of God that makes us sufficient in difficult times. He says, when I had the thorn in my side, he says, I prayed and prayed and prayed and asked God to remove it.

And God didn't remove it. What he did do, he gave me the grace. He said, my grace is sufficient for you. We are the children of grace. This is the age of grace.

We did live in the love and the goodness and, and listen, the mercy of almighty God. Thank you for listening to A God of Grace. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-24 02:48:35 / 2023-06-24 02:56:49 / 8

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