Sermons from Our Favorite Songs: “His Grace Reaches Me”
Sermons from our Favorite Songs
“His Grace Reaches Me”
How many worship services do you have to attend in order to be saved?
How many sick people do you need to feed in order to be saved?
How many people do you have to evangelize in order to be saved?
Just how many good works do you have to do in order to offset the scales of justice in order to deserve heaven?
It is not unusual for a faithful Christian, on his or her deathbed to make a statement: “I hope I’ve done enough.” You can’t do enough. Ever. That’s the message of grace.
One of our favorite songs is about the grace of God and that song will serve for the outline of our study this evening.
“Deeper than the ocean and wider than the sea…”
Let’s listen to the voice of the Lord:
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:8-12). This was a psalm of David.
“He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
“Is the grace of the Savior, for sinners like me…”
“As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch. The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep” (Mk 14:66–72).
How could you forgive someone who denied he knew you? How could you forgive someone who was a hypocrite? It was just in 14:29 when Peter said, ““Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.” Then two verses later Peter emphasized his commitment to Christ, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (14:31). How could anyone forgive that type of behavior? We don’t do that. That’s not human. The human thing to do is to hold a grudge. You knifed me in the back, I’m not going to have anything to do with you. We carry grudges. We will not forgive. We will not forget.
Then under fire, Peter calls a curse from God down on someone. The verb normally takes an object, but there is no object in the text. Whom does Peter call a curse from God on? Himself? His questioner? The broader crowd? On Jesus? Whom is Peter wanting God to curse? Then Peter swears an oath. At least in this verb, he is asking God to punish him if he is lying. How could you forgive someone like that?
Let’s return to the song…
“Sent from the Father and it thrills my soul…”
There was grace under the Law of Moses. The very fact that God even allowed animals to be sacrificed in the place of man’s own sins is testimony to the fact that God was gracious with the Israelites under the Law of Moses. Going back before that, of course, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). That word “favor” is used 70 times in the OT. Other words are translated “grace” in our English translations. The word “lovingkindness” (hesed) is used 245 times and it denotes grace as well as loyalty and love. It is loyalty, motivated out of love, bathed in grace. So yes, there was grace in the OT.
But grace was “sent from the Father” in the person of Jesus Christ: “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Jesus Christ personified and embodied and epitomized the grace of God. To word it another way, the only way God could allow animal sacrifices under the Old Law was because, by His grace, He knew Jesus was coming. “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). Just earlier in 9:15, the Hebrew writer had written: “He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” The blood of Christ served for redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant.
Noah found “favor” or “grace” in the eyes of God, and Noah was forgiven by the blood of Christ. That’s grace.
“It thrills my soul, just to feel and to know that His blood makes me whole.”
How many times do you have to be in worship services for Christ’s blood to make you whole?
How many hungry people do you have to feed in order for Christ’s blood to make you whole?
How many sinful people do you have to evangelize in order for Christ’s blood to make you whole?
Those are all good works; they are works which are required of us if we are to “walk in the light.” But, man’s good works are not what makes men whole. It is the blood of Christ and our response to that blood that makes us whole.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
“Grace” is God’s part - that’s making Christ’s blood available to us. “Faith” is man’s part; it’s the choice we make, exercising our free will, to respond to the invitation of Christ. Salvation is not “of ourselves.” We cannot get together and decide what we can do or must do that provides salvation. There is no amount of good works that we can pile up on a spiritual scale to outweigh the sins we have committed against God. There’s only one thing that will counteract the impact of sin - that’s the blood of Christ. Salvation is a gift of God and God designed it that way so that no one may boast.
There is not a single person who will ever be able to boast before God that they deserve heaven. The “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). No one could have even imagined the plan of salvation as it came out of the heart of God! Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1 that the “preaching of the cross” is foolishness to the Gentles and a stumbling block to the Jews - so that God’s so-called “foolishness” - saving man through God dying on the cross - will show that man cannot save himself through his own - so-called - wisdom. That’s God’s grace. The only way God could design a plan of salvation was the way God designed it, which shows in stark contrast the grace of God and the sinfulness and foolishness of man!
“Higher than the mountains and brighter than the sun…”
Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus so he could arrest Christians and throw them into jail. Saul was sincerely convinced that Christians were deceived and that they were committing blasphemy because they were preaching that salvation is found in that man named Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, however, blinded Saul with a light brighter than the sun because Jesus wanted to get his attention and offer him grace that was greater than all his sins (Acts 9:1-3).
“That grace was offered at Calvary for everyone…”
Speaking of Saul of Tarsus, let’s take a look at what Paul had to say about his own conversion… “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
Paul begins with his own response in mind: giving thanks. How do you respond to the grace of God? You give thanks. You worship. Paul worshipped Christ because Jesus strengthened Paul and considered him faithful, putting him into service to Christ. Jesus did this, despite the fact that Saul of Tarsus had been a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor - all acts of barbarity against Christ’s followers - against Christians.
Now, because Paul did not ignorantly, in unbelief, Jesus showed him mercy. Now, Jesus did not save him in his ignorance and unbelief. Jesus mercifully appeared to him and called him into service even though he had been behaving in ignorance and unbelief. And, Paul writes, the grace of Jesus Christ was more than abundant so that with faith and love on Paul’s part, placed in Jesus Christ. But my point is that found in verses 15-16: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. …in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
Grace could reach King David - who committed murder and adultery. Grace could reach Simon Peter - who cursed and swore that he did not know Jesus. Grace could reach Saul of Tarsus - who imprisoned Christians and abused the church of Christ. Yes, “His grace reaches me.”
“Greatest of treasures and it’s mine today…”
Turn to 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 and listen to Paul talk about the “treasures” found in the gospel of Christ: “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” Once again we have the idea that God chooses the weakness of man - you and me preaching the grace of Christ, the “treasures” of Christ - to share the greatness of God.
In Colossians 2:3, Paul will write that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Salvation by the grace of God and the blood of Christ is the greatest of treasures, and it is in our hands through our knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel message.
“Though my sins were as scarlet, He has washed them away.”
You know the passage: Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” That was a promise given to the Jews under the Law of Moses! If they returned to God and offered the animal sacrifices for their sins which God had required, then their sins might be as bright red as the animals’ blood, but in the eyes of God, they would be as white as snow, like wool.
Think about this… the concept of “washing away sins” through blood in the OT joins the concepts of the laver in front of the tabernacle with the sacrifice of animals. Priests you remember had to wash their hands before they entered the tabernacle to perform their rituals. One of those rituals, of course, was offering animal sacrifices. The idea, then, that one could be “washed” by “blood” joins the altar of burnt offering and the laver into a single idea. I believe God did that in anticipation of the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit that occurs when one is baptized into Christ and enjoys His blood washing away their sins. That, of course, combines the words of Paul from Titus 3:5 with the only other passage that uses the word “washing:” Ephesians 5:26. Also, some manuscripts have that same word “washing” in Revelation 1:5 (NKJV): “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”
“His grace reaches me. Yes, His grace reaches me. And ’twill last through eternity. Now I’m under His control and I’m happy win my soul, just to know that His grace reaches me.”
We will be in heaven, for all eternity, because of the grace of God and our willingness to submit to that grace. You know, God’s grace is extended to everyone.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11–14).
God’s grace has potentially brought salvation to all men. But too many “judge themselves unworthy” of that grace, just like the Jews did with the preaching of Paul in Acts 13:45-46. The Jews were contradicting the gospel which Paul was preaching and blaspheming, so Paul said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” We can judge ourselves unworthy of God’s grace by refusing to relinquish control of our hearts to Jesus Christ. You might say that’s why repentance is necessary. That’s the step in which we relinquish the control of our hearts to Christ. Then, we are ready to be saved by His grace through the blood of Christ.
Take home message: There is no sin that God’s grace cannot reach. We need to come to Him in humility, with the heart of a slave.