Dr. Michael Youssef, declaring the value of God's grace. Grace is neither permissiveness nor leniency. Grace is neither free nor cheap.
Grace costs God the infinitely precious blood of His Son. And that is why God said, only on the basis of that shed blood on Calvary can all of humanity, anyone, anywhere in the world can come to me, no other way. This is Leading the Way with Pastor and the author of more than 50 books, Dr. Michael Youssef. He's spent a lifetime passionately proclaiming uncompromising truth around the world. By standing for and declaring the truth, Dr. Youssef leads searching people to the saving grace of Jesus, something we can see even clearer this week as the world celebrates Easter. But many who call themselves Christians have fallen for the greatest lie. Today a reminder that it is only through the amazing grace of God the Father and the blood of His Son, Jesus, that you escape an eternity of death.
So listen with me now to Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef. Now, I know most people are familiar with the song that John Newton wrote back in the 1700s, Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved the rich like me. And yet, you cannot be truthfully honest as you look at our culture without agreeing with theologian J. I. Packer who said that for our culture and for our generation that amazing grace has turned into boring grace. You say, well how come?
How come? Well look at the average church goer today. They can get far more excited about church activities and church programs and social activities and social action and sports activities and even political and economic scene than they can get excited about the grace of God.
That's a fact and you know that I'm telling the truth. For them, the grace of God as J. I. Packer said is boring. Oh, to be sure, most people would not object to you speaking about grace especially if they need some. They will not contradict you when you speak about grace. They will politely listen.
They may even give tested approval. Oh, but privately they question the value. They question the importance.
They question the validity of the grace of God. And you have to ask, genuinely have to ask, what happened to our culture? What happened to our society? What happened to our churches? Why is there this indifference toward the grace of God? Why do most people take the grace of God for granted and presume on the grace of God?
Why is there such boredom in the church about this most exciting, most exhilarating aspect of all of the Christian life? You have to conclude that we have bought into the greatest lie. The greatest lie says that Jesus is not the only way to heaven. That there are many ways to God and to heaven.
That all religions contain truth. No wonder so many church-going people today, they are confusing grace with leniency. They view God's grace as tolerance of sin on God's part. They say God has grown up and ceased to be judgmental like He used to be in the days of the Bible.
That God does not care what you believe and how you live as long as you're a good person. And so most people view God as a permissive God. As an easy-going God who says, oh well, they've sinned again, but after all, they're not bad sins.
I'm just going to look the other way and pretend it's not happening. Today, most people view God as an accommodating God who has changed His standards since the days of the Bible. That He modified His standards in order to fit with our culture of today. But beloved, let me tell you, that is not the amazing grace. Here's the tragedy.
Here's the tragedy. By perverting biblical grace like this, modern churchgoers are falling in the greatest lie all over again just like Adam and Eve fell for it in the garden and just as Cain fell for it. And we have been seeing throughout the series of messages how Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, how they fell for the greatest lie and they died spiritually because they surrendered the most amazing, the most wonderful thing of all and that is intimacy with God and fellowship with God. And they got thrown out of the Garden of Eden and then their firstborn, Cain, did exactly the same thing.
He decided to come to God his own way, not God's way, and he ended up killing his obedient brother Abel. Beloved, listen, here's the truth. Nothing escapes God's sight. God does not wink at our disobedience. God does not ignore our pride.
God deeply cares about what we believe and how we live. Grace is neither permissiveness nor leniency. Grace is neither free nor cheap. Grace is the most costly and the most precious commodity in the whole of the universe.
Grace costs God the infinitely precious blood of His Son. And that is why God said only on the basis of that shed blood on Calvary can all of humanity, anyone, anywhere in the world can come to me in no other way. He's the only way for anyone to come to God. It's the only basis on which a Hindu can come to God. It's the only basis on which the Buddhists can come to God. It's the only basis on which a Muslim must come to God. It's the only way in which yes, a church-going American must come to God. Jai Paka, whom I consider one of the great theologians of our time, gives basic four reasons as to why the amazing grace gave way to becoming boring grace. Now I'm going to put those four in my own words, not in his.
So I don't blame him, blame me. First, because they refuse to see themselves as fallen creatures who are rebelling against God. Unlike John Newton who wrought amazing grace, they don't see themselves as wretched and lost and spiritually blind. Secondly, they refuse to believe in the judgment of God.
They say God is not going to judge anybody. And thirdly, our culture teaches that we can do all things, that nothing is impossible, including pleasing to God and coming to Him the way we think He should receive us. And fourthly, with our penchant for human rights, we come to view God as a politician whom we put in office.
And if He doesn't do what we tell Him to do, then we just kick Him out of office and vote for somebody else. And we run around in life as if God owes us something. Listen to me, God owes us nothing. And don't ever forget that grace is His favor and that He can give it or withhold it as He wishes. I find His grace puts me on my knees and on my face before Him, far from finding His grace to be boring.
It is the most exhilarating. And for the last 46 years, I have never ceased to be amazed by His grace. Some of you think that God owes you favor, that God owes you something.
Beloved friends, listen to me. The sooner you disabuse yourself of this mistaken notion, the sooner you're able to experience the amazing grace of God. In fact, Jesus said when He told us the story of the prodigal son, He's talking about that boy who rebelled against his father, the boy who insulted his father, who rejected his father, who humiliated his father, who lived contrary to his father's way. When he finally came to his senses and he came home, he found his father not only welcoming him, but he was waiting for him. And he's waiting for every sinner who acknowledges his or her sin to come to him.
He's waiting for you. It's an amazing thing that his father never reminded him of his past sins, didn't harp at him. And that's what God does. But first, you have to come to your senses. You have to realize that you're unworthy, that you are undeserving of His grace.
And you know what? I have no doubt in my mind, it's not in the Bible, it's not what Jesus said, but I have no doubt in my mind that this young man, for the rest of his life, probably every waking moment he lived in gratitude and in thanksgiving and of self-giving, in thankfulness to the grace of his father. When Satan told Adam and Eve about the big lie when he sold it to them, he basically said to them, what you hear people today say may not be exactly the same words, but the same meaning. God is not good if He tells me to come to Him only one way. How can a good God not allow me to live the way I want? God must not want me to be happy. God lies because the Bible is contradicted by today's movies and books and the rest of them. I cannot be fulfilled unless I'm free to do what I think is right.
I really want, I really want, I really want to be my own God. And that's what they're saying. And that is the big lie that started in the Garden of Eden.
And beloved, this is the core of the big lie that caused spiritual death for Adam and Eve. Today it just looks a little different. Use polished language. We do it a little bit more cleverly. We use multimedia to present it, but it's the same old lie.
And you say, how come? What these people are saying today is what Adam and Eve said back then. Because in the final analysis, Adam and Eve, when they fell for the greatest lie, they actually blamed God for their sin.
And that's what people are doing today. They blamed God. Look at Genesis 3, 12. Adam, his biggest excuse was, you know what, I'm going to give you a use of translation, okay?
Here's what Adam was doing. He said, you know, God, if you did not give me this woman, and now some of you are thinking, he is a wimp, and he was. If you have not given me this woman, I wouldn't have disobeyed you, God. Had you given me a better woman?
Man, he's standing up and taking it like a man, isn't he? If you had given me a different woman, I probably wouldn't have disobeyed you. You are to blame God. It's really a fault. And when God confronts Eve, she does the same thing.
So ladies, don't get all happy. She does the same thing. I mean, she can't really blame Adam with straight face, okay? But, she also blamed God. She said, the devil, meaning, you put him there, the devil made me do it. But she actually saying is, God, it's your fault.
It's really your fault. But she was nice about it. After all, if God did not put Satan in the garden, she would not have fallen for the greatest lie, right? I was thinking about this and I think of a story, a true story of a Russian emperor, Frederick the Great. One day he decided to visit all his prisoners in the Potsdam prison. And as he came in the door and they said the emperor is here and he was visiting with each prisoner, every prisoner insisted on his innocence. Each prisoner claimed to be a victim of a frame up or some injustice. Each prisoner blamed somebody else for their imprisonment. And then right at the end he came in there, there was a lone man, prisoner.
And the man had his head down, hanging low. And he said to the emperor, he said, your majesty, I am guilty and richly deserve my punishment. Upon which the emperor shouted for the prison warden. He said, come here, get this man out of here before he corrupts all these noble and innocent prisoners.
And he was set free. Beloved, that's the grace of God in a nutshell. That is the grace of God. Oh, I know we love to make excuses, but in the ultimate analysis, God is not looking for an excuse. He's not looking for rationalization. He is looking for confession.
He is looking for conviction. He is looking for repentance. And just that Jesus tells us there were two men went to the temple to pray.
One is a Pharisee and the other one was a publican. And the Pharisee stood there in the temple and said, you know, God, I am really a good guy. I've done all these good things for you, God, and I've done this and I've done this and I kept the feast and I've tied and I've done this and I look at all the kept all the all the rituals and all I kept them all.
And the publican strikes his heart. This is forgive me. I'm a miserable sinner. What did Jesus say?
He said, I'll tell you the truth. That man who confessed and repented went home justified, but not the self-righteous guy. And that is why today we have millions of churchgoing folks who are spiritually dead and they're in desperate need to be brought back to life. There are millions of prodigals and they're hiding in church pews and they need to understand that only through confession and repentance will they experience that amazing grace. And today my beloved friend, our highest calling is twofold, is to cry to God that he may raise us spiritually dead and that we would tell everybody who would listen about the marvelous grace of God, that they have to repent and acknowledge their sin, that sin destroys eternally, but grace gives eternal life. For that is the same grace that was promised by God.
And we've been seeing that throughout so you've got to memorize this. Where was it promised in Genesis? Where?
315. God bless you. Jesus did not appear in a vacuum as they say. Jesus did not come to found a religion as they say, but Jesus is the promised one for all of humanity by God Himself to our first parents, Adam and Eve, that He's going to come and He's going to crush Satan's head. That He was going to come and through His grace would be saved. Everyone who acknowledged their sin and believe in Him, everyone who would repent and know that He died on that cross and rose again, it was for them that He paid the wages of their sin. Only then would they be eternally saved and receive the grace of God.
I remember on few occasions out here people would say to me, I said, Michael, why didn't God just shout from heaven? He said, oh, you're forgiven. Your sins are forgiven. I've taken care of all your sin and pretended your sin never happened.
You're forgiven. It's always an indication. This is dead giveaway that the person who makes a statement like that is a person who is spiritually dead. It's a clear indication that the person has not come to grips and began to comprehend the enormity of his or her sin, that that person thinks that they are not too bad, that they are okay, that they feel because they haven't committed one of the big sins, therefore they're going to be accepted by God.
They'll say, oh, I'm not perfect. I know that, but who is, right? I want you to think with me just for a moment. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Adam did not commit any of the big sins. He didn't. He didn't kill anybody. The only person there to kill was Eve and she was still alive. He didn't steal from anybody who's there to steal from. He had it all. He did not commit adultery.
I mean, surely Eve was the only one in the place. He did not commit any of the so-called big sins that people say, oh, I don't commit the big sins. Then what was his sin that caused him spiritual death and being thrown out of garden?
Ah, listen to me carefully, please. Choosing his way instead of God's. He wanted to be accepted by God some other way than what God said. And that, my beloved friends, is the mother of all sins, is the root of all sins, is the foundation of all sins. See, there's some people who really think that this idea of many ways to God is a new and hip thing that was popularized by Oprah Winfrey.
No, it's not. It's as old as the garden. It's the oldest and the greatest lie of all times and it continued to be retold in the media, in books and in movies and on television every single day. And buying into the lie will keep a person in spiritual death.
And until you believe that Jesus is the only way, he's the only one who can forgive your sins, and when you come to him in brokenness and in humility, until you do that, you'll never experience the amazing grace of God that sets you free and gives you new life. You know, one of the greatest, one of the most powerful words in the English language is the word home. H-O-M-A, home. Because home indicates the thought or communicates the thought that you're warm and you're secure and you're protected and it communicates that you belong and that you are loved. And the true value of that word home is felt most keenly by those who are furthest away from home.
A soldier on the battlefield, a patient in a hospital bed, a prisoner in a cell, a runaway child who's away from home. And as long as you are away from God's grace, you're away from home. All of your efforts of trying to seize, to ease your pain will never bring you home. All of the rationalization of your wanting to be good is never going to bring you home. It's going to keep you away from God's home where grace is found. Like the father of the prodigal, he is waiting for you. He is waiting to lavish his grace upon you when you come to your senses.
Confess and repent. The Last Word, an appropriate title to Dr. Michael Youssef's message on today's Leading the Way. As you listen to today's Leading the Way, maybe you realize that you've never made a faith decision. Maybe you'd like to walk through that with one of our team members. If so, or if you're even thinking about it, let me encourage you to reach out right now. Go to ltw.org slash Jesus.
Just fill out a short form and begin a conversation at your leisure, addressing questions that you may have. ltw.org slash Jesus. As we close out this Leading the Way audio message, allow me to remind you to get a copy of Dr. Youssef's most recent book, if you haven't already. It's called Never Give Up. The apostle Paul was serving out a prison sentence, and he knew that his time for his execution, because of his faith, was getting even closer. This knowledge, and his love for Timothy, led him to write some powerful words of encouragement to his dear friend. His chief message was, Never Give Up. And in his new book, Dr. Youssef takes you into the very practical words of Paul from a jail cell, offering real-world advice for you today. Again, that book title, it should be a battle cry for every Christian in 2022, Never Give Up. Learn the keys to spiritual endurance, overcome spiritual burnout, and train up the next generation to stand firm on biblical truth with Dr. Youssef's new book, Never Give Up. Dr. Michael Youssef unpacks Paul's rich words of encouragement found in 2 Timothy, words that will help you endure, flourish, and thrive in the midst of doubt, danger, and despair. In this encouraging book, Dr. Youssef unveils four unique aspects of what it means to never give up biblical truth, a timely message as Christians around the world face mounting pressure to compromise their faith and abandon their biblical values. Order your copy today for your gift of any amount, and receive two bonus resources exclusively from Leading the Way.
Be empowered to live for Christ and learn how to leave a lasting legacy of faith for the next generation. Order your copy of Dr. Youssef's newest book, Never Give Up, by giving a gift of any amount. Contact us today. Here's how to order your copy or copies for friends and members of your small group. 866-626-4356. That's 866-626-4356. It's also available online. That's ltw.org. Ltw for leadingtheway.org. And write to us at Leading the Way, Post Office Box 20100, Atlanta, Georgia, 30325. That's Post Office Box 20100, Atlanta, Georgia, 30325. And there is the music that means I need to say goodbye. Thank you for being with us, and do plan to join Dr. Michael Youssef right here next time for Leading the Way.
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