[Included here are sermon notes from Sunday morning at Omaha Bible Church. Also included are applicational questions for further review and meditation (Col. 3.16)]
There is a prevailing burden for me as a Christian and especially as a pastor for the truth of the gospel. Make no mistake about it the truth of Christ’s gospel is constantly under attack. Many are promoting and accepting lies cloaked in religious clothing which are the stepchildren of the “doctrines of demons” that Paul warned Timothy of in 1 Timothy 4.1.
Today we’ll look at the first of two lies that too many people believe. These lies are particularly heinous because they strip the cross of Jesus Christ of its power and glory.
In addition, these lies fill people’s lives with confusion and burdens. So many folks follow what others teach while not believing what the Bible says.
If you believe these lies, my burden is for you. If you do not believe such lies, join me in feeling the burden and attempting to eradicate these lies. They are serious and destructive. These lies have been plaguing people throughout history, and will continue to plague until the Lord returns to straighten everything out.
The first perilous lie that plagues humanity-
1. You can be in a right relationship with God apart from the Complete GRACE of GOD
Many believe that they are inherently good…enough good to be ok w/God.
Some others believe that it is the combination of my good with God’s gift.
Historically this is the heresy of Pelegianism & Semi-Peligianism (respectively)
This is contrasted by what the Scripture says, even painting us as so bad that we are completely unable to earn his favor. The biblical account paints us as hopeless and without God, as we stand relying upon ourselves, unconverted (Ephesians 2.12). The picture could not be clearer:
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
The reality is that we are not ½ bad, but all bad! This is the death nail to the heresies of Pelagianism and Semi-Peligianism. We don’t need a boost or a little help, but instead we need a new heart, given all by grace! If you do not agree that everything about salvation is all of grace then you must agree that you are not as bad as God thinks!
Consider the depths of God’s loving grace:
The most famous Bible verse in history: Jn. 3.16… God loved the world in this way (the verse emphasizes the nature and expression of divine love, rather than the breadth of the love!) God loved the world, and he gave his son, for salvation!
Well how do we appropriate the grace?
Some say by sacraments or works…we are busy working to appropriate grace. This can’t be, look at 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 as a result of works, so that no one may boast. the text is clear that it is not of works, but faith, dependence!! This brings the spotlight to God and off of us!
This has always been God’s way of doing things. Romans 4.1-4 tells us that Abraham was justified (declared perfect) by faith, even stressing that this was apart from works!
Why is the application of grace so important? Is it just theological minutia?
NO! It is the difference between exalting the work of the cross and its power and insulting the cross and promoting the sinner’s power. Even Paul came out swinging over this issue, not mincing words concerning the gospel:
Galatians 1:8 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
The accursing is the Greek word anathema. This is referring to the damnation of souls without the possibility of salvation…The Scripture could not be more harsh!!
To have saving grace be combined somehow with something that you can do, 1) overvalues your own merit, 2) undervalues Christ’s work, 3) underestimates the justice of God 4) underestimates sin.
Consider sacramental baptisms and confirmations, even stating that they are dispensing the grace of God through these works for salvation. Omaha is filled with churches who are proclaiming this message even today, giving out false assurance of salvation based upon things that you can do.
But this lie is not just restricted to Sacramentalists, but what about those here today in Omaha Bible Church, why do you think you are going to heaven? Is it because you go to a Bible church? And the Bible is preached here? C’mon?! You coming here where the Bible preached does not save you any more than getting sprinkled by a priest or slapped (confirmed) by a bishop. If you are trusting in anything other than the complete grace of God, then according to the Bible, you are an unbeliever!
Evangelicals somehow think that God has done everything, but I just have to believe. As if I am somehow smart enough and moral enough then I can be saved. NO! Look at Phil. 1.29: For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Here we see that God grants belief, literally graces (charizomai) belief. God gives the faith to believe. If you are thinking today that you figured this stuff out on your own apart from grace you are just as guilty as the Sacramentalists who undermine the glory of Christ’s power and merit!
This is not a narrow line between faith and works, but a Grand Canyon shaped line between the two.
Next Sunday Pat will consider the second great and perilous lie that is promoted by opponents of the gospel: A Person who is Genuinely Saved by Grace Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone will not necessarily live a life of good works.
- Define grace:
- Why does the understanding of the depth of personal sinfulness demand that sinners be saved by grace.
- What are we saying about God’s character, specifically his holiness and justice when we cling to a salvation that contains our works in cooperation with Jesus’?
- Read through Ephesians 2.1-3, why does God have to ‘gift us’ or ‘grace us’ with the faith to believe? (cf. v.8-9; also Phil. 1.29).
- Consider your own attitude towards unbelievers. Do you ever find yourself looking down your spiritual noses at them because they are not ‘godly’?
-In light of grace, why is thinking unbiblical? (1 Cor. 4.7)
-What is the proper perspective towards those who are unbelieving? (Rom. 10.1-3; Mk. 6.34; 2 Cor. 5.11, 20)
-What is the proper action towards them? (cf. Mark 6.34; Col. 1.28)
6. What are some good practical ways to intentionally remind yourself of the grace that has been given you?
Think not just in terms of justification, but also the sustaining grace of sanctification and the prevailing grace of glorification!
-Read through Titus 3.1-10 to first hand practical apostolic instruction for training hearts to esteem grace.