THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST (12) – SURPRISED BY KING GRACE
Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled ‘Surprised by King Grace’. Her main texts were taken from the Books of Romans, John and 2 Samuel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16, 17). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:14-17). “Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Sam 9:1)
The Doctrine of Grace is one of the basic teachings in the Bible. It says that Grace is the blessed help given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. Grace is the free and full, unmerited favor of God. It is the spontaneous gift from God to people, generous, free, totally unexpected and totally undeserved. It takes the form of overwhelming, ‘Niagara falls’ type of divine favor, love, forgiveness of sins and a share in the divine life of God. It manifests especially in the salvation of sinners because Christ died as a substitute for them. Simply said, God saves sinners by His grace and for His glory. Glory is called ‘Mature Grace’. These two realities—God’s grace and glory—are eternally bound together.
The word ‘grace’ appears more than 200 times in the Bible. Grace can also be defined as Love to the unlovely, Peace to the restless and riches to the destitute. Grace has a royal status. As sin and death reign over the kingdom of darkness, so Grace reigns victoriously over the Kingdom of Eternal Life. Grace always flows down like oil! Grace is the gift from the King to his servant, never the other way round. Once you receive the gift of Grace in salvation, you agree and testify that God is forever greater than you. Grace demands gratitude and worship. Somebody called Grace “God’s best idea” on how to love and save sinners. Praise the Lord!
Grace is a Gift but more than a Gift. Grace is a Person. Grace is resident in the Lord Jesus Christ and in nobody else. Christmas is the season of manifested Grace. Grace came as a baby, to become a Man among men. Grace came to die to save sinners. As Truth is a Person so Grace is a Person. As Truth is King so Grace is King! Christ is Truth and Christ is Grace! Grace is ‘Peace on earth and Goodwill towards men’ (Lk 2:14). The gospel is all about God’s grace through Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul testifies “to the gospel of the Grace of God… So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Ac 20:24, 32). The understanding of God’s Grace builds you spiritually. Grace discriminates. That is why the proud unbelievers hate it. Grace locates the humble and bestows more Grace. The proud are left behind. “God gives more grace. Therefore, He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (Jam 4:6). Grace saves you and leads you to heaven. Our God is called ‘the God of all Grace’! “May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1Pet 5:5, 10,11). Jesus Christ came ‘full of Grace and Truth”. Out of His fulness we have received Grace and more Grace. The word ‘fulness’ means a container filled to the brim. There is no empty space. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is a manifestation of His fulness, as the Lord of all. It affects every area of our lives. Both is quality and quantity Grace is eternally creative. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet 4:10). This fullness of Grace is described as ‘manifold’. The word describes Grace as the colors of the rainbow, having many gifts and many blessings. There is no problem that the Grace of God cannot solve. Because we are born sinners, it is hard for us to imagine such a wonderful Grace. We are too stingy and too selfish to understand this revelation. We need the Holy Spirit to understand and appreciate the Grace of God. Grace is a King helping his humble servant just because he takes pleasure in helping. Because of this fullness of Grace in Christ, we can never lose our salvation! Halleluiah!
COMMON AND SAVING GRACE
Grace manifests in two forms towards men: The Common Grace and the Saving Grace. Both these forms of Grace manifests among men thru the work of God the Holy Spirit. The common Grace is God’s goodness towards His Creation in general without affecting man’s spiritual status. The saving Grace leads men to repentance from sins and salvation.
Common grace manifests as general natural blessings to men without the spiritual work of salvation. These blessings of nature come from the common Grace. “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:45). Men blessed by the common Grace are not saved. They cannot do any spiritual good. They may thank God with their mouths, but their hearts are still ungrateful. God reveals Himself thru His common Grace to all men. This is how men become religious. All men know that God exists. The common Grace oversees all governments, to restrain sin and to keep a general order in the world. It is common Grace that rules the public opinion, for good to win over evil. It is thru His common Grace that God punishes and rewards all men, including the sinners who do not know Him. It is common Grace that gives all men a sense of morality, love for truth and justice. Common Grace oversees all courts of justice. Lawyers and judges all over the world, no matter their religions, are all servants to King Grace! Anytime a wicked man does a good deed, the common Grace manifested thru that deed.
The Saving Grace is the unmerited favor of God that saves men. It calls men from darkness and sin; it justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies the elect. Some call it ‘The Effective, Irresistible Grace’. God calls all people by His common Grace, but He saves only those called by His saving Grace. Many people hate the doctrine of the elect and that of the sovereign Grace. But it is the truth as revealed in the Bible. “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14). Grace rules as a King in the Church. The ‘means of Grace’ in the Church are the preaching of the Word of God, and the sacraments. The preaching of the God’ Word is the most important way Grace is revealed and imparted to the congregation. The sacraments are the Holy Communion and the Water Baptism. These do not save souls, but they strengthen the faith of the believers thru grace.
GRACE IS KING
“Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ). Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:14-19)
Everything God does among men is based on Grace alone. God does not owe any one anything. Grace is called ‘a free gift’ to men. Grace is not available to the devil and his demons. Grace is not cheap. It is free! Grace is free because Christ ‘paid’ for it. He died and shed His blood for the salvation of sinners. The Blood of God was shed so that God can freely give His Grace to men. Think about it! Consider the price God paid to bestow His Grace on us! Selah! Grace is always stronger than sin and death. In the Kingdom of sin, death is king! In the Kingdom of Life, Grace is King! Once a sinner believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, with a saving faith, God changes his ‘citizenship’. He is ‘translated’ from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. The sinner bows to sin and worships death. The sinner fears death because death is his king. Death kills all his worshippers. But in the Kingdom of Eternal life, Grace is King. He gives to each citizen a heavenly robe, the imputed righteousness of Christ. The sinner is now called a saint. He worships the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for Him. Christ came ‘full of Grace and Truth’. Out of this fullness, Christ gives more Grace and more Truth to His child. God uses Grace alone to choose, call, justify, sanctify, and glorify His children. Salvation is only By Grace and Thru faith in Christ. Grace comes from above like the outstretched hand of God. Faith is the correct response to Grace. Any other way of becoming saved is false. Salvation is only by Grace and thru faith in Christ!
God made a covenant of works with Adam. It failed! Thru Christ, the Last Adam, God makes an eternal covenant of Grace with Man. “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45). By his obedience, Adam could only save himself. Thru his sin, he plunged the whole humanity into sin. But Christ, did not ‘save Himself’. He died in the place of sinners. His eternal life and righteousness are now given to all who believe in Him. “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:4-10)
Grace is a manifestation of God’s mercy and love. Its royal power is best sin in the salvation of sinners! Grace comes with the power of resurrection, changing the dead sinner into a living soul. Man cannot save himself. Men in sin are proud and they reject the outstretched hand of King Grace. They want to work their way to heaven. But none can be saved ‘by works.’ God does not accept man’s religious works as a payment for heaven. Grace and Grace alone decide who shall be saved. Grace humbles men. Grace leads men to repentance and unto salvation. Grace kills all boasting and pride of life! Grace is the beginning and the end of salvation! Grace is ‘exceedingly’ rich. His gifts to men never end. It is out of the fullness of Christ we receive Grace and more Grace. Grace saves men so that they serve and worship God. God prepares our ministries, how to work for Him. Grace leads us into our ‘good works’. We are saved to work for God. We never work for salvation. Refusing to work for God is taking Grace for granted! May you offer your body as a living sacrifice to do God’s work! Worship the Lord!
MEPHIBOSHETH – SURPRISED BY KING GRACE
“Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?” And he answered, “Here is your servant!” So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” (2 Sam 9:6-8)
This is a wonderful story not well known in the Bible. It shows the surprising unmerited kindness of King Grace towards a sinner. During the time of King Saul, David was anointed by the Prophet Samuel to be the next king in Israel. King Saul became afraid of David and tried to kill him. For the next fifteen years David was a fugitive in the wilderness. The Philistines attacked Israel and defeated them. King Saul, his son Jonathan and his other sons were all killed in that battle on mount Gilboa. Initially, King David became king over Judah. The surviving son of King Saul called Ishbosheth took the throne over Israel, but he was killed by his servants. According to the prophesy, David became king over all Israel. David did three things that established his reputation as a godly king. He invested in spiritual things, he did warfare and improved his relationship with people. He brought the Ark of God to Jerusalem so that all people can worship God. He defeated all his enemies around him. He showed Mercy and Grace to others. This is a great lesson for all believers: worship God, do spiritual warfare and improve your relationships with people.
During his days as a fugitive David made a covenant of peace and kindness with his best friend Jonathan, the son of Saul. They promised to each other that if one dies, the other will spare his descendants. Jonathan believed the prophesy that the crown will go from his father to David. He openly said so. This is what Jonathan said: “you (David) shall not only show me the kindness of the Lord while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth” (1 Sam 20:14,15). David promised that when he becomes king he will not ‘cut off’ Jonathan’s descendants, but he will be kind to them. This was a great promise because at that time, if one becomes king, he needs to kill all opposition.
Now, David has become king. He remembers the covenant he made with Jonathan. David said: “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Sam 9:1). A servant to King Saul called Ziba informed him that a son of Jonathan was still alive. He was called Mephibosheth, meaning ‘the Mouth of Shame’. When King Saul and Jonathan died, he was five years old. His nurse was afraid that they kill the child. She ran with him, possibly on a horse. The child fell, broke his legs and became crippled for life (2 Sam 4:4). All these years he lived far from Jerusalem at a place called Lo Dabor (meaning ‘no pasture’). There he married and had a son. He was a prince, but he lived like a pauper. His infirmity defined him.
Try to imagine the life of Mephibosheth. He is a picture of a sinner that is redeemed by grace. He was born in the royal family. Until he was five, he grew up in the palace. Suddenly, his world crashes. He loses his father, his grandfather, his inheritance, and the use of his feet in one day. His nanny, the closest person to him, could not help him. He fell from her arms. Now, his grandfather’s ‘enemy’ called David is on the throne. His uncle tried to continue Saul’s dynasty, but he was killed. Mephibosheth lives in constant fear. He has no hopes concerning King David. He is a picture of a sinner, an Adam’s descendant. Adam was once in the Garden of Eden. He fell into sin brining down all his descendants. In the same way, Mephibosheth, not by a fault of his own, fell from the horse and was crippled for life. Suddenly, he hears a knock at the door. Afraid, he opens the door expecting bad news. Ziba, his grandfather’s servant, tells him that King David wants to see him. This invitation to the palace to see the king is terrifying to Mephibosheth.
This is a great lesson: Grace makes the first move to bless. Jesus said: “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10). Salvation is God’s idea and initiative. The sinner is afraid. But Grace is stronger than any sin. Mephibosheth could not imagine that he will hear the best news of his life. Before the throne, Mephibosheth humbles himself and bows down to King David. He calls himself ‘your servant’. He fears that he will be killed. But Grace shines like light in the darkness. The first words Mephibosheth hears from the mouth of the king are these: “Do not fear!” Or, how Grace can surprise a sinner! David tells Mephiboseth that he wants to show him kindness for the sake of his father Jonathan. “David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (2 Sam 9:7). David restores Mephibosheth’s inheritance. He gives him back the lands owned by grandfather, King Saul. David orders Ziba to take care of the land for his Master. In this way, Mephibosheth’s son and descendants will be well provide for in the future. Suddenly, Grace is added to Grace! David goes the extra mile. He does more than what he has promised to his friend Jonathan. He adopts Mephibosheth as a son. From this time on he will eat with him at his table in the palace in Jerusalem. He will be under the king’s protection all the days of his life.
This is such a wonderful story for it applies to us, sinners saved by grace. Like Mephiboseth, we too had a difficult life. We lost all things dear to us. We have been crippled by sin and cannot make progress in life. We were living as orphans in this world. We were hiding like Adam behind the trees. We lived a life of fear and failed hopes. And, then you heard his call to you- “Come stand before Me! Come before My throne of Mercy and Grace” You expect the worst, judgment, wrath, death, and hell itself. But no! In the palace of the King, for the first time you heard this wonderful word: “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom 5:20). Amazing Grace how sweet thy sound who saved a wretch like me! You are totally surprised by God’s Grace!!! He shows you a cross… a man hanging there – His own Son, suffering for you… dying in your place… And all the wrath of God for your sin falls upon Him. This is the Gospel: Jesus died and rose again for me! God’s Beloved Son dies in your place, that you may live, that you may be adopted by God as his son! King Grace says: “Come! Eat at my table! Become as one of My sons”. You fall at His feet and say: “Why me, Lord? I merit death but You give me Life! I merit hell but you give me Heaven! I will worship You forever!”
The name Mephibosheth means ‘a mouth of shame’. But now, shame was removed by King Grace. His mouth starts to praise God, for His mercy and Grace. Like Mephibosheth, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). David blessed Mephibosheth, not because there was something good in him but for Jonathan’s sake! In the same way, we are blessed by God for Christ’ sake! That is Grace! David did what he could for Mephibosheth, but he could not heal his legs. But Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and to make the lame walk! Our Lord said to John who was in prison: “The blind see, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Mt 11:5, 6). King Grace rules and reigns as He pleases! Grace does not offend us! We worship King Grace! As sin was your king in the kingdom of death, so now Grace is your King in the Kingdom of Christ! “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14). There is no story more wonderful than this. We are justified by Grace alone, thru faith alone, in Christ alone, by the Word of God alone, to the Glory of God alone! Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth! Goodwill to men! Worship the Lord!
Not only is faith the correct response to grace, faith itself is the gift of grace. Sometimes the burden and self-condemnation of fearing our faith is insufficient, is relieved by knowing faith itself is a gift. Mustard seed faith, given by God, can bloom immensely if we tend it patiently and lovingly.
May our mustard seed faith grow, bloom and produce fruits! Little is much when God is in it!