The grace of God is a mystery. There is no one word capable of expressing the grace of God- no synonym – no dictionary definition fully defining grace. It’s because God’s grace is a mystery. Grace isn’t supposed to be easily understood. You must SEE grace for yourself and today, I want you to leave saying, I see grace.
By Pastor Delbert Young
I SEE GRACE pt 2
I See Grace – Scandalous
Scriptures: Ephesians 3:2-3; Luke 7:34; Luke 7:39; Luke 15:1-2; Romans 5:6; Romans 7:24; Isaiah 7:14
Welcome! We are thrilled you are here to celebrate this Easter with us. We actually live in the age of Easter, as it were. This age began with the first Easter at the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our age will end with the last Easter, the resurrection of all believers. A day is coming when all believers in Jesus Christ will rise from the dead just as Jesus arose the first Easter. Between those two resurrections/Easters, we each get to choose if we will go to heaven and celebrate with the Lord Jesus or choose to go to hell and burn in torment with the devil. That decision is the ultimate decision you and I make during our entire lifetime. So, I’m happy you are here working on your decision about the last Easter.
What I want to talk to you about this Easter morning is what the coming of Jesus Christ, ministry of Jesus Christ, death of Jesus Christ, and resurrection of Jesus Christ means to each of us today. The Bible sums it up in what it calls grace, but that’s difficult to understand because God’s grace is a mystery.
Ephesians 3:2-3 If ye have heard of THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the MYSTERY
The grace of God is a mystery. There is no one word that has the ability to express the grace of God- no synonym. There is no dictionary definition that fully defines and explains it. That’s because God’s grace is a mystery. Grace isn’t supposed to be easily understood. You must SEE grace for yourself and today, I want you to leave saying, “I see grace.”
The Bible says we are in a time called the dispensation of the grace of God. That’s what I called Easter to Easter earlier. What does dispensation mean? Let’s look at it in the more modern NIV.
Ephesians 3:2 Surely you have heard about THE ADMINISTRATION OF GOD’S GRACE…
Instead of saying dispensation, you and I would say administration of God’s grace, or “management” of God’s grace. God manages the time we are in, Easter to Easter, with grace, but what is grace?
To best get a handle on this, we need to attempt to think biblically. That’s difficult for us all. It requires getting our heads out of the world in which we live and into the world of the Bible. That’s a major transition. For example, if Jesus came to our world in our time, to our country, and he came for the same reason – to die as the sacrifice for the sins of man, Jesus would be executed for the OPPOSITE REASON he was executed in the first century. Of course, we don’t crucify people and never have (That’s one reason he had to come when he came). If we did, we would execute Jesus for the opposite reason they executed him.
We reject Jesus today in our country because he is too religious. Jesus, to us, is too holy, too moral, far too righteous, far too demanding when it comes to our love and faithfulness to God, love for people, forgiving people we hate, faithfulness to his kingdom, praying, our giving, etc. Jesus is far too legalistic, much too condemning of sin, way too intolerant, and far too judgmental when judging who we consider “good people.” Our generation would reject and execute Jesus for being too religious and too judgmental.
The reason Jesus was rejected, hated, despised, and executed by that first century society was JESUS WAS NOT RELIGIOUS ENOUGH. By their religious ideology, Jesus was not holy enough, if holy at all. He was not righteous enough, if righteous at all. He was not moral enough and not intolerant of sinners enough. He was not legalistic enough. He was not demanding enough. He was not judgmental enough of bad people. Jesus was “sub-par” according to their religious standards.
Very early into the ministry of Jesus, the religious world developed a deadly hatred for him. They concluded Jesus was evil and energized by the devil, not by God. They reduced their hatred down to a purposeful saying, a mantra and riddle, and if we can get ourselves into Bible times, we will gain insight for seeing God’s grace. Jesus said,
Luke 7:34 “YOU SAY, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, A FRIEND OF TAX COLLECTORS AND “SINNERS.”‘
See how they thought the opposite about Jesus than we do? Jesus was scandalous in their religious society. The religion of that day blasted Jesus for not being religious enough. They said, “The people he wants to be with are the worst people imaginable. They’re dirt people, low lives. His befriending those kinds of people shows us the kind of person he really is.” The worst thing that society could say about anyone was they were friends with tax collectors and sinners.
Jesus welcomed sinners and worked hard at sinners welcoming him. Jesus was extremely comfortable with people who religious people deemed Satan’s people doomed to hell. Jesus was friendly with harlots, drunks, gluttons, homosexuals, and the worst of all, traitor tax collectors. Understand, he didn’t approve of their sins and depravity, but knew to help them he must be comfortable around them and them around him. However, to that religious society, Jesus had a lower standard of righteousness than they. He had a lower standard of holiness, morality, condemnation, intolerance, legalism… than they. To them, Jesus couldn’t be Messiah. If he was Messiah, his standards would be higher than theirs, not lower and come down, right?
Once, Jesus was invited to a religious Pharisee’s house for a meal. Jesus went to the meal, but while there a sinful woman came in. We are not told what her sin was, but she found Jesus and cried and cried to the extent her tears gushed washing his feet. She then dried his feet with her hair and then poured perfume on his feet.
Luke 7:39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a PROPHET, he would know who is TOUCHING HIM and what kind of woman she is — THAT SHE IS A SINNER.”
Scandalous! The Pharisee was saying, “This man can’t be of God. He’s allowing that sinner to TOUCH HIM. That’s unthinkable.” However, that’s a perfect picture of God’s grace. God puts himself in a place for you and me to touch him, sinners though we are.
Luke 15:1-2 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “THIS MAN WELCOMES SINNERS AND EATS WITH THEM.”
Sinners come to hear him! Grace works! But what a scandal it can be. Yet, we see grace. Jesus did and does WELCOME sinners. I want you to see Jesus doesn’t just tolerate sinners. He welcomes sinners. That was the issue their society had toward Jesus. He was not religious enough. He allowed sinners to touch him! This was the scandal of Christ’s life, but that was grace. Grace brought Jesus to crucifixion bringing the first Easter.
Romans 5:6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY.
Christ did not die for those who thought they were godly and thought they had power to save themselves. CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY who know they are powerless to save themselves. That’s grace! God does not give salvation to people who feel they are good enough, holy enough, moral enough, and righteous enough like those religious people. In fact, God’s grace is the difference between the true gospel Jesus preached and all other religions.
(I taught this a year or so ago and want to use it again.) The beginning point and necessity of any religion is God rescuing man from man’s own depravity which will damn him to hell. I have my depravity and you have your depravity (sin). Realizing we each deal with our own stuff is important to seeing grace. Every person knows there is a “God.” To prove it, I ask, “How many have found yourself in a real mess and asked God to help you get out?” You probably made a deal with God to do something if he would get you out. He got you out, but you didn’t keep your deal, right? So, don’t tell me you don’t believe there is a God. God wired us that way to call on him when in a mess. Every person also knows there is a punishment of hell waiting for those who do not find God.
|Using the analogy of a person falling into a deep well (his depravity), how can the person get out? Here you are in your well asking God for “HELP!”|
|Mohammed comes to your well, looks over the top, and offers you Allah (Islam/Muslim religion), but to find Allah and for Allah to help you, Mohammad says, “You must keep the rules of Islam and obey the Koran. You must pray five times a day, eat no pork, drink no alcohol, keep the feast of Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Of course, you can toss in some Sharia Law so you can cut off your wife’s head and murder your children if they disobey you. Oh, one more thing. You must participate in Jihad €” the holy war against the infidels, so get to work! Do this first and Allah will help you.”|
|Judaism (Moses) comes to your well, the Jewish religion. Actually, it’s not a lot different from Muslim. Moses says, “To find God and get out of your mess, you must keep all the commandments, obey the dietary laws, keep all the Sabbath regulations, rituals, and feasts. Keep all the Law and Jehovah will tolerate you and help you get out of your well. Oh, and if you keep all that, you can stone people, but of course, they can stone you too. Oh, while you’re in your well, you will need to figure out some way to do animal sacrifices. Get to work so Jehovah will help you get out.” Sadly, a man has only his own strength to keep all those regulations and commandments. No one’s ever done it except Jesus. So after a few steps, man falls back into his depravity again. Even the apostle Paul said he couldn’t keep the Law. Romans 7:24 …O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?|
|Buddha comes and looks over the top of your well saying “I can see you are in a real mess; the problem is due to your pain and desires. If you follow the noble eightfold path you will find inner peace and ultimately go into Nirvana. You better get busy!” A person may find inner peace but their still in the well. Inner peace is great, but it doesn’t get a person to God. How do I get to God?|
|Brahman, Hinduism’s God, comes to your well. He says, “I see you are in a mess drowning in your well of depravity. If you will do Karma you can think your way out. You must think only positive thoughts, make only perfect decisions, and do only good things. The consequences of your thought life will work you out of your mess. If you don’t make it out, in your reincarnation, you might come back as a cow. Until you do make it out, you will be in an endless cycle of rebirths. You better work hard!”|
|Jesus comes to your well, looks down, and says: “I see that you are in a mess. Please let me help you. If you will allow me, I will come down into your well to you. I’ll let down a rope from heaven and come into your depravity and rescue you. I know you are powerless to get out or even hold on to me, so I will hold on to you.”|
Jesus, and only Jesus, comes to man and lifts us out of our depravity taking us out and up to God. THAT’S GRACE. I want you to see grace. When you see grace, you see God’s love for you. When you see grace, you see God reaching for you. His sacrifice lifts you and frees you from your well. When you see grace, see God coming to you. THAT’S THE ADMINISTRATION OF GRACE. That’s how God manages each of us. He comes into our individual wells and deals with us individually. That’s why it’s a mystery. He doesn’t deal with me the way he deals with you. That’s why there is no one word that describes or one definition that defines grace.
Only in Christianity did God become a human being and come down into your well reaching for you.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a SIGN; Behold, A VIRGIN SHALL CONCEIVE, and BEAR A SON, and shall call his name IMMANUEL.
Immanuel means God is with and among us. It’s a sign from God no one can miss. The Immaculate Conception is unique to Christianity. It only happened once and his name is Jesus. It’s God with and AMONG us lifting us out individually. All other religions tell you, “Do, do, do, work, work, work.” Jesus said, “It is finished!” It’s not we work our way to get to God. God worked his way to get to us and he has for every single person who lets him come into their well.
The Jews who hated and rejected Jesus were correct. Jesus is a friend to the worst of sinners. He’s a friend to me. I See Grace. I pray you do.
When you see grace, you will see Jesus being a friend to you.
When you see grace, you will see Jesus putting himself in a position where you can touch him no matter your sin.
When you see grace, you will see Jesus welcoming you and wanting a relationship with you.
When you see grace, you will see Jesus Immanuel coming into your well and rescuing you.
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