The Amazing Grace of God
"And the God of all grace
shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you."
(1 Peter 5:10)
The word "grace" is one of the most precious words in the Bible.
When we say grace before meals we are expressing our gratitude to God.
We talk about certain people as being a gracious host or hostess which indicates
that they have "charm", and kindness.
The word, "grace", is also used by an insurance company
for the payment of a premium after the passing of the date that it was due.
That is a practice that many people genuinely need and appreciate.
The word "grace" in its meaning is precious and priceless to every Christian.
Our Scripture passage links the word "grace" with God.
It tells us that He is "the God of all grace."
That means two things.
First, it means that God deals with people with mercy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is God in human form, and the Bible describes Him
in more than one place as being full of grace.
Remember the time that He met the woman at the well and pointed out her sin.
Instead of being brutally honest, He said graciously, "Go, call by husband, and come hither."
That was so gracious.
He dealt with the truth graciously.
Second, when we speak of "the God of all grace," we mean not only mercy,
but we also mean kindness.
God is the author and giver of all things -- especially all good things.
It is by grace we possess the gift of life.
It is by grace that we are surrounded by all the good things of life.
And it is by grace that we possess the good will of God.
The word "grace" combines these two truths -- mercy and kindness.
But as we look in the New Testament, the word "grace" has a more limited meaning.
There it has that general ideal of favor or kindness, and it comes to bear
on one particular place of human need.
The New Testament presents the grace in the gracious kindness of God,
and focuses upon the supreme need of all of us -- and that is the need
of a morally wrong person to become morally right.
So, the grace of God is the divine remedy which deals with the disease called sin.
If you do not see yourself as a sinner, then this grace will mean nothing to you.
But if you have ever been ashamed of yourself, and if you ever have been disappointed in yourself,
and if you have ever broken the laws of God, then like the Philippian jailer who asked,
"What must I do to be saved?"
If so, then the grace of God is the answer to your question.
Now let us look at the God of all grace at work, and and learn what we can learn.
The first thing that we learn is that God's grace is free.
The sinner in need of grace needs nothing to recommend him except his need.
You cannot work for God's divine favor which sets a person right with God.
You cannot buy it.
You could not have enough money to pay for it if you could.
God's grace is absolutely free.
If a person comes to know God, he will find the salvation that God gives freely.
Grace is free.
It is kindness bestowed on one who does not deserve it.
It is even more gracious than that.
It is kindness bestowed on one who could never deserve it.
I read a story about a boy named, Bradley.
Bradley was a little boy who came down for his breakfast and placed a note on his mother's plate.
His mother opened it.
She could hardly believe it, but this is what Bradley had written:
"Mother owes Bradley: for running errands, 25 cents; for being good, 10 cents;
for taking music lessons, 15 cents; for extras 5 cents, and a total of 55 cents.
Bradley's eyes danced when he saw the money, and he thought his business ability
had been quickly rewarded.
But with the money, there was another bill which read:
"Bradley owes Mother: for being good, $00; for nursing him through his long illness
with scarlet fever, $00; for all his meals and his beautiful room, $00."
Bradley's eyes then filled with tears.
He put his arms around his mother's neck, and he put the fifty-five cents in her hand.
Then he said: "Take the money all back, Mama, and let me love you and do things for nothing."
That is grace!
God loves us even though we could never deserve it nor could we ever earn it.
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
This grace is the free favor of God, and bestows a kindness on us that is undeserved.
It cancels our indebtedness, and writes all our account as settled in full.
I have been pastor of churches where we had a ceremony for the burning of a note.
For years there had been a debt on the building.
That debt was a note held by the bank.
The members over the years gave their money to pay off the debt.
And, when it was paid they would all come together, and one person would light a match
to the note and burn it.
The mortgage is canceled, and the church was now free of debt.
That is what grace does.
It burns our sin note.
It puts us in the right relationship to God.
That grace is called "pardon", and it tells us that all our sins are forgiven.
For example, Paul started his life all wrong.
He was completely wrong about God and salvation.
He thought that Jesus was trying to "muscle in" on a business
which was none of His business.
Paul went to work to stamp out all those who were called Christian.
He consented to the stoning of Stephen.
He breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the Christians.
One day when he was on his way to Damascus to arrest and imprison Christians,
Jesus met him, and changed him completely.
Imagine how Paul's conscience must have hurt him.
Imagine how his soul must have been eaten with remorse.
The sight of Stephen with the stones pounding his broken body must have haunted Paul.
But whatever guilt there was in Paul's conscience, Jesus took it completely away.
Whether or not Jesus ever put it in these words, Paul knew that he was pardoned,
and the debt was paid.
The slate was clean.
The past was as if it had never been.
His sins would be remembered no more against him.
Think about Peter.
He was a leader among men.
He was the first to learn the truth about Jesus.
He proclaimed his loyalty to Jesus more loudly than anyone else.
Peter turned his back on his Lord when he said, "I do not know the man."
Then Jesus looked at Peter, and in that look, I think Peter saw not only disappointment,
but I believe he saw love and forgiveness in the eyes of Jesus.
It caused Peter to break into tears.
I believe Peter knew what that looked meant.
I believe that Peter saw in the eyes of Jesus something like saying,
"It is so sad that you would deny knowing me.
But I will not hold it against you.
And whatever you think about it and as your conscience hurts you for it,
just remember that, so far as I am concerned, the past is as if it had never been."
This was a gracious Lord Jesus giving grace one who did not deserve it.
The God of all grace was in the business of forgiving sin.
During the First World War story was told about a mother whose unusually brilliant son
gave his life on the battlefield.
He was a genius which was very evident early in his life.
From the first, he was at the head of all his classes, and at Oxford he won distinct honors.
But he went to war, and his life was taken by an exploding shell.
The mother dreamed a dream about him.
She thought an angel came and told her she could have her son back for five minutes.
The angel said, "Choose what 5 minutes you will have.
Would you have five minutes of his life when he was leading classes at Oxford?
Or would you prefer to have five minutes of those days that he spent in the service of his country,
those last days of his life?"
The mother thought for a moment.
Then she said, "If I can have him back for five minutes, I should prefer to have him,
not as an Oxford student, nor during his soldier days.
If I can have him but for five minutes, I want to have him as a little boy on the day he disobeyed me.
I remember how he ran into the garden, angry and rebellious.
Then in a little while he came back and threw himself into my arms, asking me to forgive him.
Tears streamed down his face.
He looked so small and miserable, and so precious.
I saw his love in his eyes.
I felt his love as we embraced.
And my love went out to him!
If I can have him back for five minutes, I want to take him back as that little penitent boy."
A man came to the church and asked to see the pastor.
He asked the pastor:"Do you think God would be willing to have me in the church?"
He said, "I have been an awful sinner."
The look on his face revealed that he was deeply sorrowful and penitent.
The pastor immediately answered, "No!"
"I do not think so -- I know so!
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Doesn't that sound like good news to you?
But there is more to the grace of God than that.
It not only gives you a clean slate for all the wrongs of the past, it also stays busy on your behalf
and works with you daily to build a new life out of the sins and mistakes of the old.
Joseph Fort Newton, writer of the hymn, "Amazing Grace," spent some time in the First World War
with the soldiers in the armies in Europe.
One day he spoke to a large number of them, and afterward invited them to stay
for a question-and-answer.
Someone asked the question, "What is the grace of God?"
Before Newton could answer, a medical officer from New Zealand spoke up.
He said, "The grace of God is to the moral and spiritual world what the mysterious,
ever-active power of recovery, of healing, of re-creation is in nature.
When we are wounded, all the forces of healing in the body are rushed to the spot
to repair the damage.
A doctor only arrests infection till they arrive.
So, in the spiritual world a power of healing, of recuperation, of renewal, is always at work
-- if we will yield to it.
That is the grace of God."
In the year 164 AD, a famous physician, named Galen, lived in Rome.
Dr. Galen once said, concerning his work of healing, "I dressed his wound, but God healed him."
That is something of which the words that Peter is using in the text.
"The God of all grace
shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you."
A sign in a shop window read, "No piece of crockery broken beyond repair."
There is a sign in the window of heaven in the form of a cross, and it reads,
"No life broken beyond repair."
The grace of God not only forgives sin, but rushes to the place of moral pain
with a secret, silent power to heal and repair and restore.
The pastor tells of a letter that came in the mail, but had no name signed to it.
He read it to his congregation: "My husband will be in your congregation on Sunday morning.
Please place your hand on this letter and pray that God will put into your mouth words
that will touch his heart.
Pray that he will be given strength to overcome the influence of evil companions,
that he will be delivered from the woman who is wrecking him,
that he will be brought to the realization that no happiness but only shame and dishonor
can come of this for all concerned.
Pray that he will be the kind, fine, upright man he once was, that I will be forgiven
and strengthened wherein I have failed, and that Christ and peace and love
will yet reign within our poor broken lives and home before it is too late."
The pastor did as she requested.
He prayed that God would forgive the old sins and replace the broken lives
and restore that home to peace and happiness.
He prayed in the confidence that God could and would answer that prayer
for he knew that God is the God of all grace.
I hope that you have received something of the meaning of that wonderful word, "grace".
You could be carrying a heavy load of guilt.
You may be imprisoned for years in the iron grip of some addiction or infidelity,
and you are not sure that you can ever be your old self again.
I pray that you might know that, as strongly as you disbelieve in yourself,
there is a God who still believes in you.
I pray that you might know that there is a God who freely forgives,
and not only forgives but will come to you, if you will invite Him into your heart and life.
He will come with a secret, silent power of healing and forgiveness and will lift you up
out of your discouragement and set your feet on solid rock.
And you will walking in the path of righteousness and honor.
I pray that many who are in that position would pray today
that the person you are will cease to be,
and you will become the person that God would have you to be.
So, open your eyes and behold the great grace of God.
Then reach out your hand to God and learn for yourself that "the God of all grace,"
will " perfect, establish, strengthen you"!
"And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me who caused His pain!
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be That
Thou, my God, should die for me?
He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race.
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!"
-- Words by Charles Wesley
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White