Good Good God: God’s Grace

Good Good God: God’s Grace

Opening Illustration:
Bono is the lead singer in U2, one of the world’s biggest selling rock bands. He grew up in Northern Ireland, the son of one Catholic and one Protestant parent. Throughout his childhood and adult years he was a constant witness to the hatreds fueled by “Christian” belief. It left Bono less than enthusiastic about the Church.




Nevertheless Bono embraced Christian faith and maintains his embrace, not he says, because of the Church but because of grace. It is the one thing that makes him want to be a Christian. In a speech to a Harvard University graduating class in 2000 he declared he was a believer in grace over karma, karma being the notion that we get what we deserve.

In a song entitled Grace (found on U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album released in 2000) Bono pictures grace as a beautiful, vibrantly attractive woman. Here we find a wonderful description of grace as it comes to us from God and one another.

Grace, she takes the blame
She carries the shame
Removes the stains
It could be her name

Grace, it’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings

Grace finds goodness in everything.
Grace, she’s got the walk,
Not a ramp or on chalk
She’s got the time to talk

She travels outside of karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty in everything.

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things.

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.

Are You Living In The Light of Grace or The Shadow of Sin?

John 8:1-11 ESV
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Illustration:
I recently heard a story about Aaron Evans.  Evans, 21 was filmed breaking into a car and stealing the contents of the vehicle.  He stole a purse, phone, and several hundred dollars in the console of the car.  How was Evans caught?  Well the car was specially rigged with interior cameras.  The cameras began to record as the car was being broken into.  These cameras caught high definition video of Aaron’s face.  What made the crime particularly humorous, Aaron had a very distinctive neck tattoo.  Inscribed across his neck was both his full name and his birthday. Let’s just say that it was easy for police to find him.  



You can see the picture of young Aaron.  Pretty easy to spot a robber when they are so blatantly dumb.  Poor Aaron’s sin was out there for everyone to see.  The case was open and shut.  

Let me tell you about another open and shut case.  

I. Busted…Caught In The Act!

A. Caught In Adultery vs. 4
John 8:4 ESV
they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.

Point:
Yep, this woman was caught red handed in a sinful act.  Notice that Jesus does not even argue that this woman was innocent.  Nope. She knew that the Pharisees had done their homework.  She was busted.  

Point:
Have you ever been busted?  I have.  It is not a good feeling knowing that your sins have been brought in to the bright day for all to see.  It is embarrassing and humiliating.  Notice that no one comes to the aid of the woman.  No lawyer steps forward.  No parent comes to try to save her from being stoned.  No one.  She was all by herself.  Her sins laid bear for all to see.  

Point:
Its a powerful picture isn’t it.  This lady’s predicament is our story.  All of us are sinners.  All of us.  Not one of us is perfect.  What’s worse, we are so guilty that there is not lawyer that would take our case.  

We were born in sin…
Psalm 51:5 ESV
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Not only were we born in sin, we bathed in sin.  We clothed ourselves in our own wickedness.  Our sin is so blatant and obvious that we are convicted before we ever stand before a Holy God. 

Romans 3:10-18 ESV
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” ...

We were born in sin, we are covered in sin.  Because of these great truths, we have now separated ourselves from a Holy God.  This woman, because of her adultery was living separated from the God that created her.  Because of our sin, we are living separated from God.  

Isaiah 59:2 ESV
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

So, to cover up the stench of our sin we hide.  This woman hid.  She was not committing adultery in the light of day.  No.  The Pharisees caught her.  They revealed to Jesus and to everyone else what she had been doing in secret.  Some of us try to hid our sins as well.  Most of us try to hide our sins under the covering of good works.  If I do enough good things, God will love me.  If I do enough good things, God will save me.  If I do enough good things, no one will know about my sin.  They will never be revealed or brought to light.  

Unfortunately that will not work either.  Our sin is so bad, so horrible that there is no about of good works that can cover up the smell of our putrid sin.  

Isaiah 64:6 ESV
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

Point:
Because we are sinners and there is nothing we can do to hid it, we face judgement.  
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

When we are judged on our sin by the law, like this woman, we deserve death.  All of us.  There is not one person who does not deserve death for what they have done against God.  

Romans 6:23 ESV
For the wages of sin is death…

Point:
Like this lady, we are all just flat busted in sin.  We have no hope.  Like her, we will die.  

I. Busted…Caught In The Act!

A. Caught In Adultery vs. 4
B. Convicted By The Law vs. 5
John 8:5 ESV
Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?

Point:
Legally the Pharisees were standing on solid ground.  The law was on their side and they felt they were justified in what they were doing.  Listen to the Old Testament law concerning adultery.  

Leviticus 20:10 (NIV)
" `If a man commits adultery with another man's wife---with the wife of his neighbor---both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Deuteronomy 22:22 (NIV)
If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

Question, where was the man?  After all, you cannot commit adultery by yourself.  All they brought to the scene was the woman.  To me, this whole scene smells like a set up.  If you read between the lines, you can see that these men have no desire to live functionally by the law, all they cared about was trapping Jesus.  

They were all law and no grace.  They didn’t see this woman as a sinner needing to be saved.  No.  They saw her as a pawn to pinch Jesus.  They hoped in humiliating her that they could humanize Jesus and reveal that He was just a normal man.  

Point:
Friends, make no mistake, the Pharisees did get one thing right.  They brought her to the only person worthy of judging her.  They brought her to the one perfect being on planet earth, that person being Jesus.  Jesus alone was fit to judge her, condemn her and cast her out.  

John 5:22 ESV
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son…

2 Timothy 4:1 ESV
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead…

Point: 
Friends, Jesus will one day judge each and everyone of us.  He will weigh out our sins much in the same way that He weighed out this woman’s adultery.  He will see through all of our excuses.  He will dismantle all of our good works as meaningless acts of works trying to be saved.  He will see all of our motives.  We cannot hide from Him.  

I. Busted…Caught In The Act!

A. Caught In Adultery vs. 4
B. Convicted By The Law vs. 5
C. Conceded To Her Fate vs. 3
John 8:3 ESV
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst…

Point:
If you read verses 1-8, you may realizing something very sad.  When I read these verses I asked myself the question, “why did this woman not defend herself”.  It is a valid point right.  I mean her life is on the line here.  She is about to be stoned to death.  Friends, have you ever seen a stoning.  Trust me, they are painful, bloody, gory experiences.  You would not want to sign up for one I can assure you.  

However, she is totally silent.  She says nothing.  

Why?

The answer is that this woman knows the law just like the Pharisees.  She knows that she is guilty.  Chances are she has seen other women being stoned for the exact same reason.  She knows that she has it coming.  She knows that she deserves it.  

So she gives up.  She remains quiet.  

That’s what most of us would do if we really understood the horror of our sin.  We would remain silent as well.  

Illustration:
I can remember a true story when I was growing up.  It was a normal day in AP English Lit class.  We were having a mid term exam. It was a huge test and we had all sorts of study guides to help.  As I was taking the test, I noticed that one of my buddies sitting next to me kept silently asking me for the answer to one of the questions.  Chances are that I would have given it to him if I would have know the answer myself. However, I didn’t know it.  So, my buddy pulled out a little piece of white paper and began to write down his answer.  Little did he know that the teacher was walking up behind him and boom, it was over.  The teacher caught him.  

Our teacher asked “Is this yours” referring to his cheat sheet.

My friend just sat there. He didn’t say a word.  He knew that he was busted.  It was in his hand.  It had his handwriting on it.  He was caught red handed.  

My buddy was sent to the principle’s office and from there he was suspended the next day of school.  

After a couple of days, a few of my friends were giving him a hard time for not speaking up.  They were giving him a hard time for not defending himself to the teacher and to the principle.  Ill never forget what he said.

“What was I supposed to say…I was caught.”

True words.  This woman had no defense for her actions and she was prepared for death.  

Friends, when it comes to sin, we have no defense either.  

Romans 1:20 ESV
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

II. Blessed…Carried Away Grace

A. Jesus Does The Unthinkable vs. 7
John 8:7 ESV
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

Point:
The woman was guilty.  So guilty.  Yet, Jesus does something strange.  Instead of picking up a stone to kill the woman, he demands that those who are without sin to cast the first stone.  The oldest began to drop their stones and then the youngest.  

If we are being truthful, the only one worthy of picking up a stone was Jesus Himself and yet he doesn’t.  He forgives her.  He gives her grace that no other religion could offer.  He gives offers her hope that no one else could.  Grace, grace, scandalous grace.  

Quote From Jeremy Myers (Blogger)

Grace is the key to everything.

And I am not referring to the week-kneed, limp, powerless, feeble grace that you find in most Christian theology today, but the shocking, outrageous, scandalous, indiscriminate, senseless, irrational, unfair, irreligious, ridiculous, absurd, offensive, infinite grace which Jesus exhibited during His life.

The only people who really object to this kind of grace are the religious people who think that their behavior merits them some sort of special privilege or position with God and are offended that the so-called “sinners” are put on equal footing with them before God. But that is exactly what God’s grace does.

By grace, God loves all, forgives all, and accepts all, with no conditions, no strings attached, no fine print, no qualifications, no limits, and no ongoing requirements.

The grace of God is so outlandish and foreign to every human way of thinking and living, I believe that it is absolutely impossible for any human being to place too much emphasis on grace.

Ephesians 2:8 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God...

B. Jesus Saves The Unremarkable vs. 10
John 8:10
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 

Point:
Jesus offers this grace to an unlovable person.  She didn’t deserve life.  Quite the opposite.  She deserved death.  He forgave her sin even though she didn’t deserve it.  Know this, the woman’s sin would eventually have to be paid for.  Jesus Himself would lay down his life so that this woman could truly live and be forgiven.  

I Timothy 1:15 ESV
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"--and I am the worst of them all.

C. Jesus Delivers The Unusual vs. 11
John 8:11 ESV
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus delievers to this woman something unusual.  Transformation.  Scholars believe that this woman that Jesus forgave was actually Mary Magdalene.  The very same woman who stood with Jesus’ mother at the cross of Christ.  The very same woman that poured perfume on Jesus’ feet and washed his feet in her tears.  Many believe that Mary was completely and totally transformed by her encounter with Jesus Christ.  

Now that is amazing grace. 

Closing Video
In just a moment, a video is going to play that powerfully illustrates the heartache that is found in grace.  For us, grace was beautiful.  For God, for Jesus, it would cost life, breath and endure separation.  It would be brutal and horrible.  

However, we now can live in the light of grace today if we call out to Jesus as our Savior.  

Romans 10:13 ESV
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”



Live In The Light of Grace Today!


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