2005-05-22 — Stand On Grace!

Trinity Sunday :
Date: May 22, 2005

Theme: Stand On Grace!

1. For by you have been saved
2. Through faith, and that not of yourselves
3. Not of works lest any man should boast
4. It is the gift of God
– Ephesians 2:8,9

– Ude, John

Cached Video:

The Order of Worship:

Liturgy: TLH, p. 5 ff.

Hymns:

Theme: Stand On Grace!

1. For by you have been saved
2. Through faith, and that not of yourselves
3. Not of works lest any man should boast
4. It is the gift of God

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Ephesians 2:9

not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)

Sermon: Ephesians 2:8,9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

In the Name of Jesus May 22, 2005
“Help me, cause my leg was hurt. Help me, cause I’ve had a rough, under privileged life. Help me, cause it’s too hard for me.” We all have weaknesses, challenges and our first reaction, by nature, is to use them to appeal for special privileges and attention. There is a time to receive help and a time to stand. But you’re never strong or happy by leaning on your weakest point. Leaning on a broken leg, a broken relation, broken finances simply causes pain, resentment and despair. The Spirit applies this also to our spiritual life. Don’t lean on your weak points: your natural powers, will, or works. Stand on your strength: Stand On Grace!
God created man with amazing powers physically, intellectually, emotionally and volitionally. It’s a delight to see what those powers can accomplish in everything from the pyramids to the space shuttle, from a Father lifting a car off his son to Bach’s art of the fugue, from reaching the peak of Mt. Everest to personal self sacrifice for what is cherished. All around us, those who stand on these powers appear to accomplish great things in this world. Yet Eph.2:1 reminds us that all these powers are by nature dead in sin following Satan and this world into death. When Adam and Eve turned against God’s will, they spiritually died. All their powers, will, and works were perverted from their created purpose of serving God to serving themselves in rebellion against God. And it isn’t just Adam and Eve. The LORD has showered us with His love and gifts, yet we have at times run away from His love, disobeyed His will, and used the powers He gave to exalt our self over Him. It’s like the man who found his carpet, curtains and couch shredded and urine stained. You may think, “Well, what can he expect from an untrained puppy left alone in the house.” But this wasn’t. He had lovingly trained this puppy to maturity and provided water, food and free access in and out. And the dog didn’t even show remorse but stared at his master with bright eyes that laughed, “that was fun.” Does such a dog deserve to be in the house, can he be trusted? Yet we shove God’s people out of our way to be first, shred His will with words that belittle others, mock His love taking it for granted and claim that it’s all His fault cause we deserve the right to do whatever we want, to manipulate and attack His people, to destroy His house as we please and have the freedom to continue doing as long as we wish: “This is the way I am, God, You have to bless me the way I am.” That is indeed like standing on a broken leg. V.2 reminds us that those walking in disobedience are following Satan. Yet the LORD bends down again to embrace us with His love and invite us to stand on His grace. “For by you have been saved.” Here is our only strength and happiness. This is the one theme of grace: “You have been saved!” Jesus accepted the dog’s death we deserved, enduring the torments of eternal God forsakenness that the promise: “You have been saved” might stand complete in Christ. Grace has snatched you and me from our ruined state, our hopeless condition and transferred you and me to the loving arms of the Father. Such grace grips the heart giving us more than we can even imagine. By grace, verse 6 says, we are even now sitting together with Christ Jesus in heavenly places. Our natural powers, will, or works are a broken leg, worse a dead dog that we can never lean on. Stand On Grace!
“By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves.” What is this faith? People will often say, “I know what Jesus did, I know what the Bible says, I’m a believer.” So they identify faith with man’s knowledge, which is from ourselves, doubly excluded by our text. It’s just because the passing on of faith, from one generation to the next, too easily calcifies into a mere head knowledge that Luther noted, “the gospel seldom lasts in one place for more than two or three generations.” And what generation are you in? James warns us about such reliance on our knowledge: “Satan knows all about God and He trembles.” “We were dead,” Paul writes (v.1). It was not our intellect that perceived the truth and decided to follow Christ. That dog should have known how to treat His master’s house but only because he was lovingly trained. The wild wolves, which we are by nature, assume that God’s house is given solely for them to claw and tear and desecrate. Our minds by nature would never dream of, could never comprehend the exceeding riches of God’s grace in Christ, choosing us, redeeming us, justifying us, turning us to faith, and glorifying us. Our knowledge that is of ourselves is not a pass card to heaven. But the Holy Spirit does preserve the gift of faith through Spirit given knowledge that lives to rejoice in the grace of Christ that paid the ransom for me: “By grace I’m saved.”
“By grace you have been saved . . . not of works lest any man should boast.” What is faith then? Reacting against the spiritual deadness of those who claim their knowledge makes them believers, people often claim it’s their commitment, their changed, worthy life, that really determines if they are saved. But that’s our work and our boast, doubly excluded by our text. Believing in my believing is leaning on a broken splinter that pierces us. That wild wolf will not make the commitment to treat God’s house with honor. By nature we are dead, wildly, fiercely determined to serve me above God. Even the dog lovingly trained didn’t honor and serve the LORD. But God’s grace continually calls forth repentant faith and its commitment. The power required to create such faith in us was no less, verse 1:19 declares, than the power required to release Christ from the barred prison vaults of death, to restore life to a dead body, and exalt Him to the seat of power. God given faith commitment stands not on our works but on Grace “you have been saved” (v.5).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, . . . it is the gift of God.” That gracious gift V. 10 continues made us His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” So while our knowledge and commitment do not save us, you have been saved by Christ and so created to live such knowledge and commitment by His grace. This verse declares that the very grace which created a new man within us also creates the ability to serve the LORD. We are His workmanship, every feature that functions to glorify the LORD was fashioned and given by Him. Standing on grace we are in the heavenly place with Christ empowered with His gifts to carry out His service. In this vale of tears we often feel anything except like we are in the heavenly place. Yet to those sorrowing over sin Jesus gives heavenly grace, “your sins are forgiven”; to those discouraged with the troubles of this evil world, “Let not your heart be troubled . . . the kingdom is yours (Jn 14)”; to those worrying over earthly cares and responsibilities, “Stop worrying, all these things shall be added unto you.” Standing on His grace Elijah could control the rain; Moses, slow of speech, could be the most eloquent spokesman; Paul’s thorn in His side could be His greatest strength; and you and I can sit together with Christ Jesus in heavenly places breathing forgiving love and serve His grace in a life of praise. Don’t lean your weak points, stand on grace. You confirmands are here this morning to promise you will thus stand on His grace. An American Pastor asked a Romanian Pastor, who had spent quite a bit of time in America, “How would you evaluate Christianity in America?” “You don’t really want my opinion?” “Yes, please.” “Well you know in American Christianity they are always talking about commitment, urging people to make a commitment. And I got interested in that word. I noticed that it did not become the popular w
ord in Christianity until the 60’s. Now I have noticed through the years that when there is a new popular word it has usually replaced another one. So I was curious what commitment had replaced. I did some study and do you know what it had replaced?” “What?” “Surrender! Surrender, yields everything to another. What a difference. The call for a commitment was something more acceptable in America and became popular because Americans are so determined to be in control, to maintain control. They can make a commitment and they are still in control. It’s my commitment. I will commit to reading my Bible but I am in control of how much and when. I will commit to supporting the church but I am in control of how much and when. I will commit to following Christ but I am in control of how much and when. In that light commitment is a compromise. When someone holds a gun to your head you do not make a commitment to do what he asks if it fits your schedule. You surrender to his schedule. The clay, wood or marble to not commit to take the form of their craftsman’s work when it conforms to their own desire. They surrender to His will. Jesus will not hold a gun to your head, only the grace that bought you with His own blood in order to shape you as a monument to grace, surrender to HIS grace! Amen.