Kingdom Come: Grace

We now continue our message series, “Kingdom Come” where we learn what God’s Kingdom is like and how we bring it here on the earth.
Luke 17:20-21
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is:
in your midst – NIV
within you – KJV
within you and among you and surrounding you – AMP
The intersection of where the Kingdom of Heaven meets earth is right here at the tip of our toes.
This week, we’re learning how the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of grace.
Grace in the Greek language is the word charis, which means favor or kindness received.  It comes from the root Greek word chairō, which means to rejoice and be glad.  For sure, when we understand the grace of God, it is great cause for rejoicing and should make us glad!
When most of us think of grace, this scripture comes to mind:
Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
We have been forgiven of our sin and made a brand new creation not because of anything that we have done for ourselves, but because of the grace of God.  Salvation is the free gift of God as a favor or kindness shown by Him to us.  Our faith is the conduit through which the grace of God flows.  Grace cannot be earned or purchased; it is a free gift of God.
When we read about the grace of God throughout the New Testament, we quickly arrive that the conclusion that we have a vastly watered down view of what grace truly is.  Look at these examples of grace:
Acts 4:32-35
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
God’s grace here powerfully worked in all believers and enabled them to be incredibly generous.
Acts 6:8
8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
God’s grace here enabled Stephen to perform great wonders and signs.
Acts 11:19-23
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
God’s grace had made such an impact and change on the people living in Antioch that Barnabas was able to visit and physically see what God’s grace had done.  In fact the strong’s definition of the Greek word for grace extends the definition to state: of act, especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.  This reflection of grace was very clear in the lives of believers in Antioch!
Acts 14:1-3
1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue.There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
God’s grace here again enabled Paul and Barnabas to boldly preach and perform signs and wonders.
There is also a consistent theme throughout the New Testament that Moses gave us the law, which effectively sentenced us all to death because we all fail to uphold it.  However, Jesus gave us grace, which grants us life.  We used to live under the law, now we live under grace.  The books of Romans and Galatians covers this truth in great detail, but the apostle John summarized it well for time’s sake this morning:
John 1:17
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Now, in the church, we often fall into a trap when it comes to the grace of God.  We can easily determine from even these few examples that God’s grace is an empowering force!  Yes, grace is a noun and not a verb.  However, this noun enables some powerful actions to take place!
Often, we say that we extend grace to someone to shove their sin under a rug in order to not hold them accountable.  God’s grace never, ever, ever, ever, ever does this!  In fact, Paul addresses this very deceit of the enemy in the book of Romans.  I encourage everyone to read through this book, but for time’s sake, I’m going to share just a few verses from it to this point.
Romans 6:1-2,11-16
6 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Grace is not a free get-out-of-jail card so that we can continue living a sinful life.  Grace is the gift of God that empowers us to defeat sin, overcome temptation, and live the holy life that Jesus lived.  If we are to extend grace to someone, that should mean that we come along side of them and set them free from the slavery of their sin, not that we turn a blind eye to it!
Grace is also what grants us all spiritual gifts.
1 Peter 4:7-10
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
With just these few examples, we begin to understand that there is so much more to God’s grace than simple favor or kindness, or is there?  Can the simple favor and kindness of God really empower us to perform the miraculous, overcome sin, serve others, give generously, and live a life that can only be described as:
1 Corinthians 2:9
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard,and what no human mind has conceived” – these are the things God has prepared for those who love him.
This morning, the true question is not whether or not God’s simple favor and kindness can do all of these things for men and women that lived centuries ago.  The question this morning is, “What can God’s grace do for me today?”
Are you struggling to overcome an addiction in your life?
Do you want the power of God to move in and through your life?
Do you need help to treat someone better?
Do you have a relationship that needs restored?
Are you hurting deeply?
Do you need the healing power of God?
God’s grace has given us everything that we need to receive all these things and more!
2 Peter 1:2-4
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Whatever you may find yourself in need of this morning, Jesus is speaking to us that same simple truth that he spoke to Paul in the midst of his suffering:
2 Corinthians 12:9
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God’s grace is sufficient for your needs.  It will release God’s power into your life to help you in your weakness.  What we are unable to do on our own, the grace of God empowers us to do.  This morning starts the first day of the rest of your life.  Allow God’s grace to come flowing into your life.
Let down your hurts, your guards, your fears, and your insecurities.  God knows them all and right here and right now wants to clean your slate and give you a new start.  His grace, His mercies, His love is brand new this morning.  Surrender all that you are to Jesus and watch what He can do with your life.  He is trustworthy.  No matter how many times you have been let down before, He will never let you down.  He will be the firm rock and foundation for our lives if we choose to keep our feet planted firmly in Him.
The altars are open this morning.  Come on down and meet with Jesus.  We’re all family here and if there is anything at all that we can do to help, we’re here for you.  Don’t allow anything to hold you back.  This morning starts day one of the rest of your grace-filled life!
* Matthew West – Day One *