THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 7-28-02

LESSON TITLE: UNDESERVED BLESSINGS FROM GOD: "GRACE"

WELCOME

Thank you for joining us for the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us for this time of offering to God. We welcome you to this service for our Creator.

Today, we have the opportunity together to worship and praise our God. This morning we will glorify our Lord through songs of praise and through the study of His perfect Word. Won't you do your part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's begin our praise to God in prayer. (Prayer)

It's time to begin with our first song of the morning. So, won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing together, "Be With Me Lord." (SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

Sometimes we forget just how fortunate we are to have God on our side. If we look around in our society today and consider those around us, we really don't find a lot of people we can count on anymore. Past generations were founded on fundamental Godly principles like trust, honor, dependability and sincerity. When someone said yes they meant yes and when someone said no they meant no. What about today when someone says "I'll do it today" or "you can count on me," can we really?

The fact is, our society seems to be full of people who are satisfied with getting the most they can, with the least effort possible. It doesn't matter whether the job is done right or wrong, good or bad, as long as it's done, we'll get paid. Where has honor, respect and reliability gone? Where are those who do a job and want it to be right because their name is on it? Well, the good news is, even though our society seems to be headed the wrong direction, we can also regain our strength and confidence in the things of God. Notice what Moses said about this in Numbers 23:19, there we read, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" Here we find out more about the God we serve. He is not just a mere man who might let us down, but He can be depended on! Why? Because He does not lie and He will do the things which He says. Every word God has spoken will be fulfilled and can be counted on.

The second thing Moses tells us that we can find confidence in, is found in the very next verse, where he said, "Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it." Not only does God not lie and not only can His word be counted on, but there is nothing you, I, or anyone else can do to change His will! So what have we seen thus far? If God said it, He meant it, it will happen and there is nothing that can stop or change it.

You see, as Christians a knowledge of these things helps us to be what we should and to do the things God wants us to. Why? Because we know that He is with us in everything we do and His guidance, protection and promise can be relied upon. Even in troubles, God is going to be there to help us as we need Him. Isn't that what David meant when he said, "many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers Him out of them all," Psalms 34:19. God is truly our rod and our staff, He guides us, He comforts us. Let's all remember to focus on God, keeping in mind His commitment to us. If we can count on Him, knowing that He can be depended on, we can then be able to do and bear all things.

This morning we will consider our next lesson in our series on undeserved Blessings from God." Our specific topic of study today will deal with "Grace." So please stay with us through our next song and after that I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "Blessed Assurance." (SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Ray Sullins

I'm glad that you've continued with us this morning as we again go to God's Word. This morning we will continue our series as we started several weeks ago now we've been looking at some of these undeserved things or opportunities, we might say, that we have from God, blessings that we've had that He's just given us although really we don't deserve them. So far, we've been able to look at the concept of salvation and we've seen really what it takes to be saved as far as asking the question, "What must I do to be saved?" But as we looked at salvation, we were able to see how important really salvation is as an offered gift that we can receive from God and if we'll obey and do what He has asked us to in relationship to His Word, the Gospel, then He will bestow us that gift and it will save us and give us eternal life.

You might remember that last week we looked in the book of Titus, Titus chapter 2 and verse 11 in relationship to salvation, because the verse talks about how that God had brought us salvation really and that salvation had appeared to all men. I want to read the verse again though because our topic this morning is dealt with in the same verse. If you'll listen from the Word of God. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Notice there that word that was used first of all, "the grace of God. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."

We see another factor now tied to those things that God has given us and really even though we are undeserving, He simply seems to bestow them and hand them to us so that we might receive them and take those gifts. Really the concept of grace probably helps us to understand even further what our series is about because grace really is an idea that is based on that very thing, receiving something that is really undeserved, or receiving something that is unmerited. Again, we really haven't done enough to receive it, but yet we did receive it. I might ask you the question, "How many of you are worthy or how many of you were owed by God in the fact that He gave His son to die on the cross? How many would say that Jesus owed you the shedding of His blood on the cross?"

Well, now we get to the concept of grace. The fact is that no one would seem to deserve that the very Son of God, God Himself in the flesh would die for them, but grace says that "God has bestowed that favor and that love to us anyway. In fact, if you'll look in several places throughout scripture we find not only in here in Titus but in other areas that this same idea really is presented to us so that we might understand that really grace, this favor from God, has been given to us, that which saves.

In fact, we might want to go to really one of the most familiar verses that deals with grace and that verse is found in Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 8. Notice what it said there as Paul talked to the church at Ephesus and really mentioned something about grace. He said there, "For by grace, you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Now we start getting the concept of that undeserved thing, that gift. In fact, here specifically it says, "By grace you are saved."

Now in the world today, especially in the religious world, and throughout the denominational world, we find that there are a lot of different ideas and things being presented really about grace and how that really grace saves and I would agree 100%. Grace does save, but the fact is that we must take the Bible as a whole. We must look at all of the New Testament. It is not really accurate for us to say that grace without anything else ever will save an individual. All of you, as well as I do, know verses such as Hebrews 11 and verse 6 that says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." So how could grace save us if there wasn't some kind of a connection also with faith?

Another example that I might give you just so that we might understand further is Mark 16, a familiar verse to all of us, the great commission. He said there in verse 16, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved," or "will be saved." Well, the fact is that you and I know there's more to it than only belief and baptism.

What about repentance? Jesus said in Luke 13:3, "Except ye repent, you will perish." He didn't say, "This is after the fact of belief and baptism." He says, "Except you repent, you will perish." Whether you have anything else, without repentance, you will perish.

Again, the point I am trying to make, friends and brethren and those who are watching the program this morning, the point I am trying to make is that we must look at all of the counsel of God to see what He says, "Yes, belief is necessary. Yes, baptism is necessary. Yes, repentance is necessary. Yes, the confession with the mouth." In fact, Romans 10:9 and 10 says that "unless we confess with the mouth, we cannot be saved." Well, what if someone has grace, but they've never confessed with the mouth? Well, the point that we're trying to make this morning is that we must look at the total package. So many of these things that God has offered us are tied together. The salvation that we talked about last week was not just something that was given without any type of strings, we might say. He said there was a need to be obedient. There was a need to follow. There was something to do to receive it.

Let me give you another example. Let's say that maybe you buy a birthday present for someone or maybe at Christmas you buy some Christmas presents. We always enjoy receiving presents, don't we? Well, think about that for a moment. When we buy those gifts, has that gift really been received until we've given it to the individual and they've taken it and they've opened it? They've done with it something, to open it and then use it. Now, as long as that gift is at home, is it really a gift yet? Has it really been given and has it been received? No. When it is sitting in our closet or maybe in the back of our car as we go, has it been received? No. But when we give it to them and they take it and they open it, that gift has been complete. It has been received. Well, that's what God has done for us. That's why we're talking about salvation and God has offered that gift to us, but again we have to do something to receive it, to take it. There's an obedience on our part. Grace is the same. We mentioned a moment ago, without faith we cannot please God. Well some might say, "Well, then if I have faith then only it will save me." Again, alone without anything else? That's not what the Bible says. In fact, if you'll look at the verse here we just read that grace saves us. Well, see the same point would say then that grace alone won't save. There are things tied to it. In fact, the very verse that we read there in Ephesians said that "for by grace, you have been saved," (continue with me) "through faith." Notice that grace you have been saved, but where does that grace and that salvation come through a faith, a belief? How on earth is God going to extend you a gift that you have never received? How are you going to know about a gift that you have never been offered? Well you see the fact is that you've got to hear about the gift. You've got to be able to believe about that gift and to develop a faith about that gift. Don't you? Then when you start to believe and that faith develops and then you receive that gift that has been offered by God, and "as you receive it," as it says here, "through faith grace then saves you." Yes, grace saves, but it's in connection to and with faith. You see, all of these are tied together again. You can't say that salvation is not important. You can't say that grace is not important. You can't say that faith isn't important. They're all together. They all work hand in hand to accomplish the gift and the receiving of the gift that God has offered to those who will follow Him.

There's a verse also that we read there in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and verse 9 that reminds us of just the extent of that gift and the purchasing of that gift. In 2 Corinthinas 8 and 9, we read there that it was Christ Jesus again who became poor, who became poor, who made Himself a mere man and died on the cross. He became poor for our sakes so that we could what? So that we could be rich. You see, we are rich in Jesus Christ. Why? We're rich because He has offered us salvation. He's offered us salvation because we're able to have faith and understanding of what people have told us and from what we've read from His Word ourselves, and we build that faith and then we know about salvation and then we know about because of our faith, the grace that saves. But without that knowledge, how could it save? Without the understanding of who God was, how could we have faith?

Go with me then to the next verse and let me try to help you with what it says in verse 9 of Ephesians 2 and verse 8. In Ephesians 2 and verse 8 as it says about

grace saving us through faith," the next verse goes on to say that "works will not justify us." In fact, it says, "Not of works lest anyone should boast." The fact is what could you do today? What could I do? What could anyone do today to really have God again owe them salvation? What could you accomplish? Even in killing your own self. What could you do really that would be as great as what God has done for you in giving His very son? Think about that parents. Giving His very son to do for who? For sinners at that time that He sacrificed Himself on the cross for. He allowed His own son to die. Remember it was God, Jesus in the flesh, God in the flesh that actually died for us. You see, the point is that even though we need to do something, there is an obedience as we saw last week connected with salvation. There's a need for faith connected with grace and salvation. These things are tied together. They're all needed, but there's nothing we could ever do, not enough work on this earth, not enough that we could accomplish, not enough that we could give, not even our own life that will achieve in some way that God owes us, owes us the things that He has promised. In other words, there still has to be that grace because of my weakness and frailties, because of my sin and because I'll never be what God is and I'll never be able to accomplish the things that God really would like for me to accomplish. Then again, we have this grace. So as Christians, when we begin to hear the Word and we respond and we are added by the Lord to His church and we're developing that faith and that faith then allows us to have grace. We must understand that grace is that thing which really makes us whole. You see, even though I keep stumbling my toe and I keep falling off the truck, so to speak, or I keep heading off the wrong path, there's always that grace to cover me. As long as I'm giving God my best and I'm striving to be obedient, He knows my heart. He knows my heart and He knows I'm making mistakes but to my understanding of grace has always been that still that grace is there so that when I stand before Him, I will be justified. I will be seen as pure. I will be seen as having the blood of Christ cleansing me. Why? Because I did my best. I gave it my all. And that grace will save my anyway even though I am not perfect, even though I'm not all that God was or all that Jesus was on this earth. But the Bible says that we can strive for that perfection. We can strive to be complete. We can strive to give it our all. We can strive to really accomplish all that God has asked us to. Well again, the fact is we can do our best, but we'll never be perfect. Thus grace.

So how beautiful and how wondrous for us to know that yes, there is something known as grace and that we're able to develop a faith in life and that we're able to know what God wants us to do to become obedient to that unto salvation, and then there's a grace that will always keep us righteous and proper and acceptable before Him. But please let me encourage all of us again to always look at the plan that God has laid out entirely in scripture, and let's not fall into these entrapments of someone coming to you and saying, "Well, as long as you believe, you're saved." Well, the Bible says that, but then again, belief alone, will it save? Well we've seen today that grace saves. So again, the fact is there are things tied to it. Don't allow people to come to you and say, "Grace only will save." There are things tied to that grace. Yes, grace is the ultimate thing that is involved, but there are things tied to it in order that that grace will be bestowed through faith again that grace is given unto salvation. As we might go on, "baptism will save," people will tell you. Baptism won't save you. It is unto salvation in connection with what? It will save if we connect it to repentance and to confession. Again, putting all of these things together to know what God has given us, to know what He has made sacrifice so that we might have these things before Him.

The final thing that I want to spend the last several minutes on is the fact in relationship to grace and faith and all these ideas that we have is how that many today claim that once we are in the grace of God or have the grace of God that we can never fall. Let me remind you again that the verses that we've already looked at say that we have been saved by grace but it is through faith. Someone has to continue in faith. James talked about faith and how "a faith without works is dead," there in James chapter 2.

In fact, there are other verses that we could look at to give us the same idea. There in Galatians chapter 4 or rather chapter 5 if you'll turn there in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 4. It says there that "there were those who had become entangled or estranged from Christ. You who attempt to be justified by the law, you have fallen from grace." Well, that's a hard one to explain. If we receive grace and never lose it no matter what we do, why is it here that Paul is talking to the church in Galatia. He was talking to Christians. He says, "There are some of you who have again become entangled in the law." They were returning to Judaism and therefore, notice carefully, he said, "they thus had fallen from grace." Now let me ask you something, if you fall off a truck, what does that mean you first have to be on? You have to first be on the truck to fall off. You can't be walking alongside of a truck and say, "I fell off a truck." Well, you can't fall from grace unless you had grace. The point is again understanding that yes, we've got to have grace to be saved but there is still something to do on our part. Jesus said, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' but do not the things that I say?" (Matthew chapter 7 and verse 21)

Hebrews chapter 6 and verses 4 through 6, talking to Christians again and saying that "there were those who had tasted of the heavenly gift." They had tasted of it, but yet when they fell away because they had known God and turned away knowing what was right, they would never be able to repent. Why? Because they loved the world more than God. They chose worldly things over godly things.

On and on and on we could go talking about how our God has offered all mankind grace and has offered us all salvation and has offered us these things so that some day we can receive eternal life. My question today, "Have you done what is necessary to be in the grace of God? Through faith, are you doing what God has commanded you?"

(SONG # 3 - "I Will Sing The Wondrous Story!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

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May we all realize the importance of grace as a blessing from God, because with it - not a one of us could be saved and thus receive our final reward from God - the promise of Heaven!

(Program closing)