The Greatness of Grace

(Today’s blog post is the actual text from a memorial service I preached today. When people trust Jesus and seek to live God-honoring lives, the job of the pastor is made much easier. Such was the case today.)

Thanks to all those who shared for be willing to share a glimpse of your life experience with Bob. It is obvious that Bob  was well-loved and that he will be missed.

It seems that at times like this we learn a lot of new things about people. Perhaps the reading of Bob’s obituary opened your eyes to some things you never knew before.

In talking with family this week, I was able to discover some things about Bob I did not know:

  • Physical fitness very important
  • He took his life responsibilities of providing and parenting very serious
  • Spent a lot of time investing and teaching his kids all sorts of aspects of life
  •  Was willing to connect his kids according to their interests, not just his
  •  Thought of other often (even in his last days tried not to be a burden)

But of all the things I learned about Bob, the one that stood out to me was he was a man who loved the concept of grace.

So much so that He felt the need to communicate the importance of grace to his children, as well as others.

The understanding and application of grace in one’s life was really, really important to Bob.

So, for my memorial service message, I figured I would just continue sharing the message that Bob loved to share with his loved ones: the message of grace is the only way to go.

I guess in some ways, I’m going to try and share a message that, if Bob was sitting here with us, would come to a conclusion with Bob saying something like, “Now, that’s what I’m talking about!”

So, here’s my best shot.

First off, Bob appreciated the idea of grace from a theological aspect.

Quite often people have a view that the way to get right with God is to live a perfect life, or at least do a better job than the guy next to you.

The thinking here is that a relationship with God is achieved through religious activity or moral effort.

The picture I get of my mind is of people climbing, straining, reaching, hopefully to be able to gain God’s attention and approval. Kind of like hamsters spinning a relentless, unforgiving wheel.

But Bob knew better.

Because He looked into the contents of the Bible, he understood that peace and hope with God come by means of grace.

Two verses of scripture that solidly underscore this truth:

Ephesians 2:8-9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

As if that verse didn’t make the point about the value of grace, consider the message of

Titus 3:4-7

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Bob wisely embraced this message that a connection with God wasn’t obtained through effort or earning, but solely by trusting Jesus Christ to be the savior of his soul.

But Bob didn’t stop at appreciating grace from a theological perspective.

No, Bob also sought to practically live out grace for the people around him. 

I was blessed to hear about a few cases where Bob showed life-giving grace to some people who might have expected him to be angry, disappointed or judgmental.

I like this, because it shows that Bob was not only glad to receive grace from God, he was willing to share it with others who needed it.

Grace is one of those concepts that is sometimes hard to understand, because we possess so little of it.

We can be harsh. We can be impatient. We can be exacting. We can be vengeful. We can be condemning. And sometimes we project our own struggles in these areas upon to God.

The result is we get a skewed perspective of our creator.

But of God’s gracious character, the Bible says in Psalm 145:

“The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.”

Grace can be defined as  the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; and the unmerited favor of God.

When asked to describe biblical grace, several theologians provided these thoughts.

 BB Warfield: “Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.”

 John Stott: “Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.”

 Jerry Bridges: “Grace is God willingly reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.”

 Paul Zahl: “Grace is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it.”

The truth is we all need grace, don’t we?

None of us are perfect, and if the standard for knowing God is perfection, well then, we are all in a heap of trouble.

We live in a world defined by earning, deserving, and merit. But these result in judgment.

And judgment kills.

Only grace can make things alive.

Here’s an extremely short, but power-packed definition of grace:

“Mercy, not merit.”

Grace is the opposite of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve.

Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and not getting what you do deserve.

No wonder Bob loved the message of grace, and as a result, he felt compelled to share the beauty of God’s grace with those around him.

Because Bob knew that the only way to live was by grace.

And he knew that the only way to die was resting in God’s grace.

And it was his hope that we would understand that as well.

Thank you Bob for being such a strong proponent of such a amazing, concept.

And thanks be to God for His wonderful, glorious and as the well-known song declares, his AMAZING GRACE. 

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