Welcome to The Daily Platform. Just over 500 years ago, Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses, which is considered to be the beginning of the Reformation. For the next several days on The Daily Platform, we'll be studying some of these doctrines in a series called, Truth Triumphs. Let's listen to today's message entitled, Grace Alone, preached by Dr. Greg Stikes of the Bob Jones University Seminary. If you have your Bibles with you, turn to 1 Timothy chapter 1. I want you to look here in 1 Timothy chapter 1 at the end of verse 11, where Paul says that the Lord entrusted him with the task of preaching the gospel. And when he refers to this great trust, Paul launches into this doxology, this praise to Christ, for calling him, of all people, into the ministry, and saving him, and giving him the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming such glorious news. Paul says in verse 12, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, who is before a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious, which means that Paul was arrogant and violent in his attacks against the church. But, Paul goes on, I obtain mercy because I did it ignorantly and unbelief. In other words, because Paul was so hostile against the followers of Christ, because his heart was so hardened and ardently committed to the destruction of Christianity, the mercy of God was his only hope. Paul is reflecting, of course, on that day when, years earlier, when he was still called Saul, when the Lord dramatically intervened in his life, he was on his way to Damascus to persecute believers there, to bring them bound to Jerusalem and throw them into prison and even have them executed.
And as Paul himself tells the story in Acts 22, he says, I was nearing Damascus when about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me and I fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? So I said, who are you, Lord? And the voice said, I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting. I said, what shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, rise and go into Damascus. And they led me by the hand of Damascus. And once in Damascus, a devout man named Ananias healed me of my blindness and told me, the God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, to see the righteous one, to hear a voice from heaven from his mouth, for you will be a witness for him to every one of what you have seen and heard.
So get up, call on the name of the Lord for salvation and be baptized. And Paul did. Do you know how the Apostle Paul summarizes this act of grace, this act of salvation in his life? Look at the beginning of verse 14. He says, the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus.
Paul says, do you want to have an explanation for how a hardened, violent persecutor of Christians was transformed into a fervent, passionate preacher of the gospel? Paul answered, it was grace, God's grace. Grace is a beautiful word that has profound and eternal significance. So what is grace? People tend to be mystical about grace. Some people talk about grace as if grace is some invisible substance that God pours out upon us and somehow it makes our lives better. Grace in the New Testament is the Greek word karis.
Very simply, karis is favor, goodwill, kindness. So when applied to people, grace means favoring someone, desiring to show goodwill to someone, or taking pleasure in someone. But grace doesn't stop there. Grace always manifests itself in definite acts of favor or goodwill to the person being shown grace.
So whenever we see grace manifested in Scripture, it always appears as a definite act or expression of favor. Take, for example, Jesus' parable of the two debtors in Luke chapter 7. Both men could not pay, and so their creditor, remember the story?
He canceled both of their debts. And the verb that Luke uses is karidsamae. Literally, he graced them both. And favor is shown in the forgiveness of the debt. With this in mind, the New Testament authors, most notably the Apostle Paul, finds a special use for karis. The authors in the New Testament use the word to express the ultimate source for every spiritual blessing that has been given to us by God through Christ. And I could take time this morning, if we had it, to take every one of those blessings you see there and show you in the New Testament how the authors show all of these benefits come from the grace of God. But if you'll just look down at the text in 1 Timothy 1, back to verse 14, when Paul says the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant in faith and love, what he means is that God gave Paul faith and love to believe and to be devoted to him. Faith and love are gifts of God's grace.
How else can you explain the change in Paul's heart? So when someone says to you, may the Lord shower you with his grace, or I pray that God would give you grace, you need to think, well, what form will that grace take? Strength, patience, perseverance, favor? Because grace implies a manifestation of God's favor upon us. Now, when we study all these passages that these words up here represent in the New Testament that speak of God's grace, we come to the realization that biblical grace has certain properties. And these properties help us understand why God's grace is so rich and abundant. So here are the properties of grace that we see in the New Testament. The first property is that the grace of God is free.
It's free. You cannot earn it. You cannot deserve it. Romans 3 24 says, being justified freely by his grace, the ESV puts it, being justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. When God shows favor to us, it is never because of what we have done to deserve grace, it is always in spite of what we have done. What had Paul done to deserve God's grace? He was a blasphemous, arrogant, violent hater of the Lord and his people. He was on his way to catch Christians unawares, to bring them bound to Jerusalem, to take parents away from their children, to torture, to imprison, to slay.
He was hated and feared by the believers. But what does Paul say about God's calling in verse 12? He says, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who hath enabled me for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
That is an astounding statement. Paul is not saying merely that God saved him. He says that God counted him. He reckoned him as faithful, which is not just being saved, but actually indicates a level of spiritual maturity. And it doesn't say that God watched to see if Paul was going to be faithful, and then at some other point in his life, he decided Paul was faithful. God counted him, according to this verse, faithful then and there on the road to Damascus.
On what basis? Only upon the basis by which God calls any of us to salvation, on the basis of his grace. Paul was a hardened sinner that no one ever thought could come to faith in Christ. But God said, I'm gonna save Paul, and I'm gonna call him to preach the gospel.
And he did. And that's why Paul calls it grace. The fact that grace is free, though, leads us to a second biblical property of grace. If there is nothing I can do to deserve grace, then grace must be based on something else. And so secondly, the grace of God is based upon God's own wise, righteous choosing. God chooses to give grace when and where he wants to give grace. Why did God choose Noah?
All we know from the text of Scripture is that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Why did God chose Abraham? For all we know, Abraham was a pagan in Ur when God called him. Why did God choose Jacob and not Esau while they were still in the womb? Why did God call the nation of Israel? Why did he choose Israel? I mean, Israel gave God fits.
They couldn't, he couldn't even give them the blueprints for the tabernacle about how to worship and the Ten Commandments before they had defiled themselves with false worship at the foot of Mount Sinai. But God tells Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 7, look, it's not because you were a mighty nation with a lot of people. There was nothing particularly impressive about you. You weren't particularly strong or rich or popular. In fact, you were kind of scrawny, if we read in the lines. God says to them, it's because I loved you, I chose you.
I said, you are going to be my treasured possession. You know, one of the greatest revivals that we know of took place in a totally pagan culture and was preached by a man who hated his audience. He didn't want to go and he barely put any work into his sermon. Yet 40 days and Nineveh will be destroyed, he said. And yet the people of Nineveh repented. In fact, they repented so hard they even covered their livestock with sackcloth and ashes. And Jonah was furious. He complains to God in Jonah 4, 2, I knew you were a God who was gracious.
I knew you'd forgive him. And from the book of Jonah, we derive one of the most profound theological lessons. God can save whomever he wants to, when and where, and give that person faith to believe and to come and be saved because he's a God of grace. Now, some of you might not like that. You might say, well, wait a minute, if what you're saying about grace is true, if it's up to God to save me and to keep me saved, then what's stopping me from coming to Christ for salvation and then going out and committing all the sin I want and letting God give me all the grace he wants? Well, I can appreciate that question because it's a perfectly logical inference based on the right definition of grace. The Apostle Paul got that question all the time. And Paul gives the answer to that question in Romans chapter 6, where he explains, when God saves us by his grace, he also transforms us by his grace, by uniting us with his son so that we are no longer the slaves of sin.
But then you might say, well, that's not fair. I mean, the way you define grace, it's not fair that God should give grace to some and not to others. I mean, how could God do that? Yeah, Paul got that question all the time too. And he answers that question in Romans chapter 9.
You know what he says? Here's his answer. Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?
That's his answer. In other words, we don't understand the wise and kind and righteous purposes of God because God is God. And if you explain grace correctly, you will always raise those questions in the minds of somebody who is actually listening to you.
And look, I know the tension there is in the Scripture. The objections to grace are as old as the doctrine itself. But we don't have to understand everything about God in order to know God and to worship God.
We just have to believe God. So we don't need to try to redefine God's grace in some way so that the logical questions melt away. We need to stand back in awe and marvel at the mysterious holy purposes of God, which are expressed in his grace. In fact, the mystery of God's grace leads us to a third biblical property of grace. And that is, the grace of God causes us to respond in humility and praise. Notice what Paul says in 1 Timothy 1, verses 15 and 17.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all expectation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief. That's Paul's humility. The fact that he received grace from God didn't make him proud.
In fact, just the opposite. It made him very humble. It also made him grateful. Look at verse 17. Now under the king, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever.
Amen. Those who realize that they have been saved by grace because of God's favor alone, though they did not deserve it, especially if they knew they did not deserve it, are forever thankful to God. Nobody boasts that he received grace from God. Otherwise, grace ceases to be grace. If you think you deserved it, it's not grace. The praise for grace always culminates in the giver of grace, never the receiver. If it's true that the grace is the free gift of God that causes our salvation and that there's nothing we can do to earn it so that we who are the recipients of grace are humbled and praising God for it, then this final property of grace follows. The grace of God is all we need. It's all we need.
Sola gratia. Grace alone. The message of the Reformation. Do you realize that when the Reformers broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, it is not because the Catholic Church rejected the idea that you need God's grace for salvation? In fact, if we say the Roman Catholic Church does not believe in salvation by grace, we are misinformed about Catholic theology.
In fact, I'll show you a statement from Catholic catechism. Our justification, it says here, comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor.
That's what I've said. The free and undeserved help that God gives to us in response to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partners of the divine nature and of eternal life. You say, well then, why the Reformation? What's the difference between what we say about grace and what the church, the Reformers were reforming, say about grace? The answer is not in the word gratia, grace.
The answer is in the word sola. The difference between Protestant theology and Catholic theology is grace alone, and any Catholic theologian or Protestant theologian will tell you that. If you keep reading the theology of the Catholic faith, you'll find there's more to the story. God gives his grace, which begins at baptism, in order that we might believe and participate in his grace through our good works and the sacraments, such as mass, in order that we might eventually be justified or right with God. And if we do enough of these works, we can hope to be in heaven someday, and if we don't, we can go to purgatory after we die where we will be tormented until those works are burned away that are bad works and we can become pure. That's the rest of the story. But when we compare this grace in this theology to the grace of Scripture that we don't cooperate with God to bring in our salvation, this version of grace looks very puny.
It looks very weak. By contrast, grace alone means there's nothing we do to add to our salvation. There's nothing we can do.
There's nothing we could do. So the Reformers who worked to reform the church, and their work is what we celebrate this month, they read in the scripture of God's grace and came under the conviction that the church had got it wrong. For they watched the endless droves of people flooding to mass to hear a service in Latin and kneel before the priest who would turn the back to the people and then turn back with the bread and put it on their tongue so that the worshiper would have to come and do these works to receive God's grace. And the people were bound by the ceremony and other means by which they thought they were earning more grace. In the Reformation, God uses those who broke with the Roman Catholic Church to teach the people that they can come to salvation by God's grace alone. And that brings us finally to the application of grace. What is the significance of grace?
What does it mean for us? And in order to answer this question, would you turn to one more passage this morning, and this is Ephesians chapter 2 verses 1 through 10. The Bible says to these believers, and you hath he quickened, he made you alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
Wherein in time past he walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, waiting for God's destruction, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us, made us alive together with Christ, by grace ye are saved, and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace and his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. First, we have to realize that our salvation and spiritual walk is God's gracious gift. Because based upon the way that Paul describes the sinner apart from Christ, there is nothing we could possibly do to lift ourselves to God. Paul puts it this way, you were dead in your sins. A dead person can do nothing to help himself. And if you have a theological system in your mind whereby you believe you can contribute to your salvation in any way, it may be that you simply do not understand how lost a lost person really is outside of Christ. How impossible it is that any of us can move an inch toward Christ on our own. We are dead.
That's the only word for it. That's the message that bursts forth from the Reformation as the people of God begin to read the scriptures and see for themselves what God is really saying to us. That the only hope that any of us has rests in those two words that you see there at the beginning of verse 4. But God, God himself brings dead people to life because of the work of Christ.
And God is the only one who can do this. By grace you have been saved. We can neither save ourselves in any respect nor grow as a believer once we come to Christ outside of the grace of God. That means there's a second application which naturally follows from this. The gospel depends upon the doctrine of sola gratia.
Did you know that? The gospel depends on this doctrine. If you come to Christ by believing in a gospel in which you have to do something to work your salvation out in any way, then your salvation rests at least in part on your own efforts.
And that is no salvation. In fact the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5 to those who are trying to be justified by the works of the law, their own efforts, he says you have fallen from grace. He doesn't mean you've lost your salvation. He means you have fallen away from proclaiming the gospel of grace alone through Christ alone by faith alone. And notice what Paul says here in chapter 2 of Ephesians verses 8 and 9. For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast. The word that that you see there in verse 8 has a big function in the text.
What is it that is not of ourselves? And the form of the word that in Greek means that the that refers to the whole preceding clause. In other words, all of salvation is from God, including faith.
It is all he's doing. It is not our work in any respect. You say why is that so important? Because the gospel of Jesus Christ is important. If you put your faith in a gospel but you get the gospel wrong, then you are not saved.
But here's some better news. Sola gratia is the assurance that we are saved. That's why Paul says in verse 10, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God, the good works, has prepared beforehand that we should simply walk in them. If you are His workmanship, if you are His design, His effort, His work, then you can rest assured that God has got you. If you did nothing for your salvation, there is nothing you need to do.
In fact, nothing you could do to keep your salvation. And you know, we can read about God's grace in the scripture and we can know this is the way it works. We can even come to God for salvation by faith, but we still have it in our minds sometimes that if we do more good things for God, He will sometimes love us a little more than the other person who's saved, or He'll at least like us a little more. But if we think that way, we still don't understand God's grace. God's grace, when we understand it from the scripture, rebukes our arrogance, our sinful thinking that we can somehow add to the grace of God, that God would love us any more or any less, we whom He purchased through the death of His Son and called us by His grace alone. But you know, God's grace not only rebukes our arrogance, it also encourages us when we stumble in our spiritual journey. We may not struggle with spiritual pride, but we may be discouraged about our walk with God, and we're trying to impress God and feel like there's nothing we can do to make ourselves more spiritual.
You know what? We're absolutely right. Our walk with God is a product of His grace, and if you're discouraged, call upon the name of the Lord and seek Him and pray for His grace to strengthen you and to renew you. Listen, God's grace is profound, and it's wonderful, and it's far-reaching, and it's beautiful.
God does it all. And there's so many examples in scripture and in church history of God simply grabbing onto someone and saving him by faith. In fact, I love Charles Spurgeon's own testimony of salvation. In fact, Spurgeon's testimony actually highlights all five of the solas of the Reformation we've been talking about in this chapel series.
Sola gratia, grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone, and the scripture alone, and to the glory of God alone. Spurgeon had been trying to find salvation through several different spiritual exercises, and he knew the gospel, but he says he was empty inside, in darkness and despair. And you would think that a guy that was going to be such a great preacher as Spurgeon, God would prepare a special session for his salvation, a special sermon by a special preacher, and a special incident. But God, as an act of His grace, simply sent a snowstorm one Sunday morning, and Spurgeon could not get to the church he was trying to go to. So he turned down a side street and came to a little, primitive Methodist church. And in that chapel, says Spurgeon, in his own testimony, he said, there may have been a dozen or fifteen people, and Spurgeon, if you read his testimony, didn't have a very good attitude about being there, because he said, I had heard of primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly they made people's heads ache. To make matters worse, the pastor didn't show up because of the storm, and Spurgeon said, at last, a very thin looking man, a shoemaker or a tailor or some sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Spurgeon says, the man chose Isaiah 45, 22, look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. Spurgeon says, in his testimony, the man was so dumb that he basically kept repeating his text for the simple reason that he could not think of hardly anything else to say about it.
And he spoke with this thick Essex accent, whatever that is, and mispronounced many of the words. So the man said, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, look, now looking don't take a good deal of pain, it ain't lifting your foot or your finger, it's just look. Well a man needn't go to college to learn to look. You can be the biggest fool and yet you can look. A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look, even a child can look. But then the text says, look unto me, aye, many of ye are looking to yourselves, but it's now use looking there.
You'll never find any comfort in yourselves. Spurgeon says, the good man followed up the text in this way, look unto me, I'm sweating great drops of blood. Look unto me, I'm hanging on the cross. Look unto me, I am dead and buried. Look unto me, I ascend to heaven. Look unto me, I'm sitting at the Father's right hand. Oh poor sinner, look to me, look unto me.
And Spurgeon says, when the man had managed to spin at about ten minutes or so of this kind of thing, he came to the end of his tether. And he looked at me, Spurgeon says, under the gallery, and I dare say with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me as if he knew all my heart, he said, young man, you look very miserable. And Spurgeon said, I dare say I did, but I had never been used to people making public remarks on my appearance from the pulpit before. And he continued, and you always will be miserable.
Miserable in life and miserable in death if you don't obey my text. But if you obey now this moment, you will be saved. And he lifted up his hands and shouted, Spurgeon says, as only a primitive Methodist could do, young man, look to Jesus Christ, look and be saved, look, look. Spurgeon said, so I looked. He said, I saw at once the way of salvation. He said, I have been trying to do 50 things, but when I heard that word, look, he said, what a charming word it seemed to me. He said, oh I looked, I looked until I could have almost looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun.
I listened to the word of God and that precious text led me to the cross of Christ. I can testify that the joy of that day was utterly indescribable. I could have leaped. I could have danced.
There was no expression, however fanatical, which would have been out of keeping with the joy of that hour. He said, I thought I could have sprung from the seat in which I sat and have called out with the wildest of those Methodist brethren. I am forgiven, a sinner saved by blood, a monument of grace. That is how grace alone saves lost sinners. It's the message of the Reformation, and if you never truly called upon Christ for salvation, God's grace alone can save you too, right this very hour. And God can, his grace alone can grow you as a believer. So cling in faith and obedience to Christ and know the beauty of trusting in the grace of God alone for your salvation. Father, we are eternally grateful for the grace of God which saves sinners. May it be dear to our hearts, we pray in Christ's name, Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Greg Stikes, a Bob Jones University seminary professor. Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-07 22:21:10 / 2023-11-07 22:32:05 / 11