Tonight's lesson is on the purpose of grace. We've been studying off and on this year on the subject of grace. I plan to do one sermon a month on this topic. And so, we're gonna look this evening at the purpose of grace.
You think about a gift, you know, grace is defined as a free gift, an unmerited favor. A lot of folks, when they're offered a gift, they kind of become a little bit suspicious, at least in some circumstances. Oftentimes, they think, well, maybe there's, a reason or a purpose for this gift, and maybe they're skeptical about that purpose.
I get these emails from time to time, I'm sure you do as well, offering a free gift. All you gotta do is click on this link and do whatever. And I put those straight in the spam folder. The ones that escaped the spam folder, to begin with. Because I don't believe that there is going to be anything. And, I'm skeptical about it. And I'm afraid they're just trying to fish for some information and they're gonna exploit me in some way. And, that's the way, unfortunately, it is in our world.
When we look at grace or we look at a gift, we always check to see if there are some strings attached, maybe. But you know, when it comes to God's gift of grace, there's no need, no fear, no skepticism when it comes to the purpose of God's grace.
But we need to understand that God's grace does come with a purpose. It does have a cost.
You know, it is a true statement, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." The expression, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, conveys the idea that things appearing free always have some cost paid by somebody, or that nothing in life is truly free.
Now, when it comes to the gift of God's grace, there is a cost, and it was paid by Someone. It was paid for by Christ. A tremendous price was paid for that gift.
The gift of grace is also, not, a no strings attached gift. We didn't understand that there are strings attached to that gift. There are things that we must do as the recipients of that gift of grace.
Now, for us to learn what the purpose of grace is really, I think it can only enhance our appreciation for the gift of grace even more. And so we're gonna notice several purposes of grace, what it accomplishes, what it does in our life.
Grace Tempers Justice
The first thing I want us to point out is that it tempers justice.
You know, you think about God's grace, it permits Him to be just, and the Justifier o2f him that believeth in Jesus.
- Romans 3:26
- Romans 3:23
- Romans 6:23
Therefore, everyone deserves death. Justice demands the death of the sinner. However, grace provided the vicarious death of Jesus for all men.
- Hebrews 2:9
- Romans 3:23, 24
You see, God is a God who is a God of justice. He is a just God. He will always do what is right. And so, that is one of the invariable attributes of God.
Now, God's justice has to be tempered by His mercy and by His grace. You know, we sing the song.
"He paid a debt, he did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away, and now I sing a brand new song. Amazing Grace Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay." — Alton Howard
You know, because of grace the debt is paid. The demands of justice were met when Jesus died in our place.
- 2 Corinthians 9:15
And yet, how tragic it is that many reject Him and thus lose the benefit of what He did for them.
You think about it this way, under a system of pure justice, man gets the punishment that he deserves. For instance, someone commits murder, they're convicted of murder, and they're executed for murder. That is justice.
Now, because of God's mercy, man does not get the punishment he deserves, and that's how we understand justice. We get what we deserve. Mercy, we don't get what we deserve. And so, man doesn't get the punishment he deserves.
Because of the long suffering of God, there is a chance to repent. For instance, you have someone guilty of murder. They're sentenced to death. They have a chance, or they receive a stay of execution. They're not executed. They don't get what they deserve.
But ultimately, God's grace allows man to receive something he does not deserve. Doesn't deserve forgiveness. Again, in that illustration, you have the convicted murderer. He receives a commutation of his sentence and is set free. He doesn't deserve that. He deserves to be executed for his crime.
And so think about it, that is us. We deserve to be executed for our crimes, our sins against God. But because God is merciful and long-suffering, He withholds that punishment and ultimately gives us a chance by offering Gis grace to be free from the guilt of that sin.
And so one purpose for grace is to temper God's justice.
God's Grace is to Influence Man
Another reason for grace is to influence man away from sin. You know, it teaches us to leave one life behind and live a different life. Many don't want to hear the need for change.
There was a Peanuts TV special years ago. And, Lucy says that Charlie Brown, she's got her little psychiatric booth set up for 5 cents. And, Charlie comes by and she says, "You know, the problem with you, Charlie, is you don't want to hear what the trouble with you is." And that's what a lot of people are like. They don't want to know what the trouble is. That's their biggest problem. They don't want to know what their biggest problem is.
You know, our biggest problem is seeing.
- Titus 2:11-14
The purpose of His grace is to influence us away from that life of sin. To influence us to deny all of those things to live, righteously and godly. [To] live a life looking forward to the coming of our Lord, because He gave Himself for us. He wanted a pure people. He wanted a peculiar people. A people that belonged to Him and Him alone. That's what the word, peculiar, originally meant. Now we think it means something weird, it's peculiar.
It belongs to me and me alone. We belong to God and God alone. We are His people. That's the reason why we're peculiar.
And so here in this passage in Titus is the depiction of a changed life, a life away from sin.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:7
He's talking about the reputation of these people. They had turned so much away from the ungodly pagan past of their lives. They have turned fully to God, to following Christ. And it's clear to anyone that sees them. Their, faith is evidenced throughout all the world or all of Achaia and Macedonia.
They were commended for the way they lived their life because of the grace of God. Now, we also need to be careful though that we do not receive God's grace in vain.
- 1 Corinthians 5:21 through 6:1
There in verse 21, he describes what the grace of God has done to make us righteous because He knew no sin, He gave Himself for us. He says we are to be workers together. So that we do not receive the grace of God in vain.
If the grace of God does not lead me to repentance, if the grace of God does not lead me to a changed life, then I have received the grace of God in vain.
If I go back into the world after having left it behind, then I've received the grace of God in vain.
Think about the influence of grace. We do things for others. Sometimes with the motivation of hoping it will cause a change. Someone has done evil and, and to us, instead of returning evil for evil, we do good to them, to those that hate us, to those that persecute us, so that those that treat us wrong, and the hope there is that we turn them from their way of behavior to a better way.
God does the same thing. God's grace is sometimes pictured as the rescue of a person who is drifting down a river toward danger. They've fallen into the river, and they're headed for the waterfall. They're headed over the rapids, they're about to drown. And someone there on the side of the riverbank throws out a rope, and they catch the rope, and they're brought to safety.
Was the rope simply thrown to provide the rope? Of course, it wasn't. It was thrown to change the course of the one in danger. We also need to understand that grace is always of a beneficial nature. You know, if I saw a man drowning and I threw him a bologna sandwich, would it be grace? You're gonna be saved by a bologna sandwich? Of course not.
Grace provided what man needed; a new direction, a new hope. And so, grace - one purpose of grace is to influence; to change our course.
Grace Motivates Man
Another purpose, similar, is to motivate. The grace of God motivates man to become the servant of righteousness.
- Romans 6:18
You know the motivation of Paul, who was truly a servant of righteousness.
- 1 Corinthians 15:10
Notice here that he says, "But by the grace of God, I am what I am." He talked about the things that he used to do, the evil he used to be guilty of. He says, "By the grace of God, I am what I am."
You know, as I said before, if the grace of God does not motivate me or influence me to a better life, a more spiritual life, then I've received the grace of God in vain. Paul says, look at my past and look at what I now do. I have not received the grace of God in vain because it changed my life.
You look at the way Paul lived his life as we read about early in the book of Acts and then you see the change in his life as he goes about being the champion of the faith that he once tried to destroy. And so, he became a servant of righteousness.
Some cultures have this custom that if you save the life of another person, the one who is saved becomes the servant of the one who saved them. However, our becoming servants of Him who saved us is not culturally motivated. But, it's gratitude motivated. It ought to be. God's goodness and grace should motivate a lost sinner to repent.
- Romans 2:4
God's goodness and grace ought to motivate us to repent. Grace motivates a man to stop serving sin and to begin serving righteousness.
Retirement or rest that comes later, we are to be servants.
- Hebrews 12:28
And so the purpose of grace is to motivate.
Another purpose of grace is to strengthen. It's what gives man strength. You know, Paul prayed for the removal of the thorn in his flesh. You know, we don't know what that was. He wanted it removed, and the answer he got is that "...my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9.
You know, we don't know what this was. Does it really matter? We do know, though, that he was better off with the strength to bear it than he would've been with its removal.
- 2 Corinthians 12:10
He recognize that because of the thorn in his flesh, he needed to depend upon God. His weakness made him recognize that he could only find strength in God, and so he leaned upon God in his life.
- James 4:6-8
You know, He "...resists the proud gives grace of the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). The thorn in Paul's flesh humbled him, and his grace, the grace of God was sufficient to sustain him and he learned to depend upon it.
And so it motivates us and it gives us strength. We cannot be strong without Christ. Our strength is Christ.
You know, there is greater strength in humility than there is in pride, and it takes greater strength to remain humble than it does to become proud. Show me a proud man and I will show you a weak man. Show me a man weakened by pride, and I will show you a man who will remain weak so long as he remains proud.
You know, pride is one of those things that begins with a P and ends with an I. We've gotta get rid of it. We've got to become humble.
- 1 Timothy 2:1
He doesn't say to be strong in your own self, he says, to be strong in the grace that is in Jesus. Our strength is not found in ourselves. Paul was as strong of a Christian as there ever was. His strength was not in himself.
- Philippians 4:12-13
Again, that was Paul's motto In life, I think I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul recognized his only strength was in the grace of Christ. His only strength was in Christ.
Grace is for the Praise of God's Glory
Another purpose of God's grace is for the praise of his glory.
- 2 Corinthians 4:15
You know, grace causes God to be praised. It brings glory to God. Those who receive the grace of God, they glorify God and they should.
Those who are benefited by the grace which motivates their benefactor to glorify, also glorify God again, rightly so.
- Romans 5:1-2
- Ephesians 2:6
- Colossians 3:16
And so we see the purpose of God's grace is to temper His justice, to influence us to righteousness, to motivate us to follow Him, and to give us strength. And finally, but most importantly, to bring glory to God. And so let us spare no efforts to see the purpose of God's sufficient grace is fulfilled in us and through us.
- Romans 3:23-23
How to Receive God's Grace
Because of sin, we are lost and dying in sin. We were. For those of us who are now Christians, the grace of God is what makes salvation possible. The propitiated death of Christ on the cross forgives our past sins through the forbearance and the mercy of God in order that He might justify the faithful believer in Christ.
And so, the faithful believer is the one who is justified.
He died for our sins, but we must die to our sins and accept and receive His grace. Again, grace is not a no strings attached gift. There is something that we must return to God, we must return and render to Him our faithful obedience, our love in keeping His Word. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)
We know the commandments to be saved, one must believe in Him, and repent of their sins. One must confess their belief and be baptized to have their sins washed away. That's how we receive God's grace. I urge you that if you have not accepted God's grace and on His terms, then we urge you to do so.
Maybe you have received the grace of God in vain because you've turned away and back into the world. His grace is still available. The blood of his Son, Jesus Christ, will still wash away your sins. If you will repent of those things and confess, and return to Him.
If we can help you to be a recipient of God's grace, please contact us.