The Abounding Grace Of God
Romans 5: 1-2, 8, 19-21
John Bunyan author of The Pilgrim's Progress, wrote another little book which is not
as well known.
Bunyan was a very wicked young man.
After a long struggle, Bunyan repented of his sin and accepting Jesus as his Saviour
and became a Christian.
He told the story of his conversion under the title, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.
These words are reminiscent of Paul's testimony: " Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners; of whom I am chief." (1 Timothy 1:15)
After Paul's experience on the Damascus road, he would never forget the contrast
between sin and grace.
The entire letter to the church at Rome deals with this theme.
It deals with the contrast between sin and grace -- that depths of sin -- the power
of grace, and the results of God's redemptive love in the life of the believer.
In chapter five of Romans Paul proclaimed the abounding grace of God against
the dark background of abounding sin.
He said, " Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned
in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life
by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Paul stated two facts in this statement: sin abounded and grace abounded.
The gospel is epitomized in the tragedy of sin and the triumph of grace.
The gospel is eternally effective.
Therefore, if Paul were speaking today, he would say,
" Sin abounds, and grace abounds more exceedingly."
Sin is a constant reality in the experience of man.
It continually multiplies and grows until the offense is so great that it is unbearable.
The word, for sin is hamarta.
This word appropriately expresses " the sum total of evil."
Later, by repeated acts of disobedience to the law, sin grew larger as offence
was added to offence.
Sin is man's personal offense to a personal God.
The essence of sin is self-centeredness.
It is an attitude and a disposition.
The form which sin takes is not the most significant thing.
The most significant thing is the attitude.
Drunkenness, idolatry, vile language, lying, cheating, gossiping, slander,
impurity of life -- these are but the fruits of sin.
The essence of sin is invisible except to God.
Sin is selfish, willful rebellion against the loving will of God.
Sin abounds in its scope.
Sin is universal.
In other words, sin affects all mankind.
No one is exempt from its power.
It also means that the actions of life are affected by a sinful motive.
Sin comes in to ruin life which is noble and good.
All of the world's great religions recognize the problem of evil in the life of man,
and although they define sin variously, they still are aware of the power of evil.
All the governments of history have set up laws meant to restrain the evil acts of man.
All great literature includes the tragic element of sin.
Read the tragedies of Shakespeare, such as Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Julius Caesar
and observe the scarlet thread of evil as it intertwines itself about the life of man.
Sin is no respecter of persons.
It enters into the lives of people of all classes of society and into every home.
Sin abounds in its consequences.
Sin affects personality of the individual.
Sin is a perversion of the good.
That which is meant for righteousness is turned to selfish and evil ends.
Ambition is a good thing until it becomes an obsession with the individual,
and leads him through progressive stages of self-exultation of his own destruction.
The acquisition of wealth is not evil until the spirit of possessiveness dominates
the motivations of the heart.
There seems to be no end to the creative power of the imagination in the mind of man,
but when the imagination is perverted, it becomes a creative force for evil ends.
Over two decades ago, two brilliant university students allowed their imaginations
to become perverted.
Pursuing the study of science, the two students began to imagine how a human being
would react when he was tortured and murdered.
Their unrestrained demonic curiosity led to the slaying of little Bobby Franks.
Sin affects not only the individual but society as well.
" For none of us liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself." (Romans 14: 7)
Isaiah saw himself a sinful man living in the midst of a society of sinful men.
The sins of a man are multiplied in his neighbors as they join him in his transgression.
The idea that it is nobody else's business what an individual does is absurd,
for one's every act affects the life of his neighbor.
Sin abounds in its effect upon man's relationship to God.
God is holy, and to Him sin is serious.
" The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23)
A person sin separates that person from God and places that person under
the judgment of outrage holy love.
In the play, The Entertainer, the great British actor, Laurence Olivier portrayed
the practices of the cheap entertainer as he attempted to make people laugh.
There seemed no end to the things the entertainer would do or say in order to
provide entertainment for the crowd.
As he sank lower and lower in his own ideals and practices, others were affected
by his sinfulness.
His own family was led into the dark depths of perverted thinking and living.
Toward the climax of the play the entertainer's daughter appeals to her father
to get a grip on himself, to live up to life's noble idealism, to follow his God-given conscience.
In the spirit of hopeless dejection and with deep pathos the actor exclaims,
as he shrugs his shoulders, " You know, I just didn't feel a thing."
Perhaps, the greatest consequence of sin is that it gradually leads one down a deceitful path,
constantly dulling his sensitivity concerning life spiritual values until, finally, he exclaims,
" I just don't feel a thing."
Abounding sin demands abounding grace.
The God of unlimited love meets the needs of abounding sin.
" Though sin has multiplied, yet God's favor has surpassed it and overflowed,
so that just as sin had reigned by death, so His favor too might reign in right standing
with God which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
(Romans 5: 20-21; Williams)
Grace abounds in the love of God.
" God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us." (Romans 5: 8)
The grace of God is the favor of God bestowed to man who does not deserve this favor,
but who comes to it by means of faith in Him who bore the penalty for man's sins.
Grace abounded in the life of Jesus Christ.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus went about doing good -- preaching, teaching, and healing.
He healed the blind man
He cleansed the leper.
He called little children unto Him and blessed them.
He forgave sinners -- like the woman at the well, Simon Peter, Zacchaeus, the publican,
and Mary Magdalene.
As Jesus saw the needs of humanity, as He looked upon the multitudes and saw them
lying about bruised and bleeding like sheep without a shepherd, He had compassion
upon them and ministered to every need as He had opportunity.
The greatest compliment ever paid Jesus was paid to him by his critics, the Pharisees,
who accused Him of loving sinners, of being concerned about outcasts,
and of answering the cries of broken humanity in its misery.
The words of the poet are understandable,
" No mortal can with Him compare,
Among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair
Who fill the heav'nly train."
The grace of God overflowed and multiplied exceedingly in the death of Jesus.
The gospel of suffering love was manifest in the death of Christ.
The message was predicted by Isaiah as he declared, " Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53: 4-6)
" There is a green hill far away, without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified, who died to save us all.
Oh, dearly, dearly has He loved, and we must love Him, too."
Grace abounds and overflows in the life of every person who will open his or her heart
to receive it.
Abounding grace does not ask how great is the sin, but how needy the sinner.
God's grace changes the lives of people.
Regardless of his or her condition, everyone is invited to accept the grace of God
and thereby experience a dynamic change in his or her own character and way of life.
Jesus Christ is not only the reconciler but also the giver of eternal life.
God's love is extended to all people everywhere.
" For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us,
to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly
and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope
and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify
unto Himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works."
(Titus 2: 11-14,ASV)
In an art museum in Brussels, Belgium, named for the artist, Wiertz, there is one picture
which stands out among all the others.
About 12 by 16 feet in size, it occupies one entire end of a display room.
It portrays Christ on the cross.
From the cross powerful beams of light are radiated in every direction.
In the background is the Garden of Eden.
Guilty Adam and Eve are attempting to hide themselves.
The old servant draws back in fear.
At the bottom of the picture is the appropriate title selected by the artist, "Christus Victor!"
Indeed, Christ is triumphant, and although " sin abounded, grace did much more abound;
that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness
unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5: 20-21)
Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L. White