“Grace” – 1 Peter 4:7-11

May 11th, 2014  (Mother’s Day)

“Grace”

1 Peter 4:7-11

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Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. — 2 Corinthians 9:8

 

The term (grace) carried some breadth of meaning for OT writers, beginning with the ordinary sense of that which brought approval, delight, and joy (Gn 33:15; 1 Sg 16:22) and also describing aesthetic experiences of loveliness and sweetness (Est 2:9; 5:2).  In a more developed form it signified goodwill toward a person, as between God and man (Gn 6:8), and found special expression in the master-servant relationship (Gn 39:4; Neh 2:5).  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 547)

 

Antonyms of grace:  Harshness, animosity

 

Christlike Grace = Finding delight in allowing someone else to enjoy what you paid for.

Charis = NIV “grace” = good-pleasure, favor, good-will, joy, pleasure, what pleases, thanks, a gracious gift. (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT: Vol. IX, 374-75)

 

Grace . . . “It is the virtual equivalent for the idea of the willing of good to someone.” (Merrill Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 2, 799)

 

Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more. (Philip Yancey; What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 70)

 

Grace always gives, whereas sin always takes away.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary: Romans, Vol. 2, 638)

 

The question to be answered is . . . Why is Pastor Keith taking up a whole sermon to point out the necessity of grace to have a great relationship . . . especially a great marriage?

 

Answer:  Because we are all sinners.  Sin wrecks havoc on relationships.  That is why God puts a prohibition on sin!  Without the oil of grace high friction relationships would soon disintegrate.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8) 

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Grace

 

Why is grace necessary for the health and longevity of relationships?:

I.  Grace is enjoying blessing for which someone else paid.  True, pure, grace is beyond worldly and normal human comprehension.  (Jn 1:16-17; Acts 15:11; 2 Cor 4:15; 8:6-9; Rom 3:21-24; 5:8-17; 13:5-6; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Tm 1:14; Tit2:11; Heb 2:9; 1 Pt 4:10)

 

Grace is not a two-way street.  — Buddy Briggs

 

True forgiveness always entails suffering.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 101)

 

God doesn’t owe you mercy or grace.   That is to defy the very definition of mercy and grace.  For mercy and grace are voluntary, not obligatory. — R. C. Sproul

 

The dying words of one ancient saint were, “Grace is the only thing that can make us like God.  I might be dragged through heaven, earth, and hell and I would still be the same sinful, polluted wretch unless God Himself should cleanse me by His grace.”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 21)

 

Karl Barth said, “Only when grace is recognized to be incomprehensible is it grace.”  If we think we understand God’s love and grace, we are probably without it.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Romans, 19)

 

Grace changes people as nothing else can do.  It cleanses the sins of the past.  It enables righteousness in the present.  And one thing it does for certain:  it constantly surprises us.  For the essence of grace is surprise.  There is nothing shocking about giving people exactly what they deserve.  Grace subverts the rules and gives people what they don’t deserve.  It is motivated by the warmth of love rather than by cold calculation.  Therefore, grace is always doing something we didn’t expect.  (David Jeremiah, Captured by Grace, 171)

 

“The Son of Man has come unto the world to take upon Himself the sins of the world.   If you want to follow Him you must be willing to do the same.” (“Jesus of Nazareth” video)

 

The reason we do not appreciate grace is that we think we deserve it.  We do not deserve it!  If we did, it would not be grace.  It would be our due, and we have already seen that the only thing rightly due us in our sinful condition is a full outpouring of God’s just wrath and condemnation.  So I say again: Grace is apart from good works.  Grace is apart from merit.  We should be getting this by now, because each of the blessings enumerated in this great chapter of Romans is apart from works, law, or merit–which are only various ways of saying the same thing.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary: Romans, Vol. 1, 358)

 

As sin was a power in our lives, so grace becomes a power in our lives.  If it were not so, not a single person would ever be saved.  Grace acts, and acts as a king.  It reigns as a king.  It reigns in the Christian in exactly the same way as sin reigns in the unregenerate.  It is the power of grace, therefore, that matters; and the Apostle’s whole purpose is to show that grace is supreme.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 5, 318)

 

We tend to think of grace as an attitude; and, of course, it is that.  We even define it that way.  We call grace “God’s unmerited favor toward the undeserving,” in fact, toward those who deserve the precise opposite.  But grace is more than an attitude.  It is also a power that reaches out to save those who, apart from the power of grace, would perish.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary: Romans, Vol. 2, 634)

 

Paul exults in the abundance of grace (Rom 5:15).  Grace is multiplied to us (2 Cor 4:15).  It always exceeds our limited expectations (Eph 2:7) as it comes in great richness (Eph 1:7, 23).  (Geoffrey Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 550)

 

Grace is a renewing power as well as the free gift of pardon and acceptance.  Grace present within the life of the Church is shown in the Church’s overflow of generosity toward others (2 Cor 8).  In Ti 2:11-13, Paul speaks of grace disciplining life unto sobriety, righteousness, and piety.  Paul seems to be speaking of the power of grace within him when he says that what he is, he is by the grace of God; he works very hard, he says, but then is quick to credit his own achievements to “the grace of God which is with me” (1 Cor 15:10).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 550)

 

If we have experienced God’s grace, we will want to pass it on to others.  And remember, grace is undeserved favor.  By giving an enemy a drink, we’re not excusing his misdeeds.  We’re recognizing him, forgiving him, and loving him in spite of his sins–just as Christ did for us.  (Tyndale House Publishers, Life Application Study Bible, 2051)

 

Love in response to goodness is not love, it is reward.  You don’t earn love.  If you earn it, it isn’t love.  So when the Bible talks about love and grace, it is always in the context of sin and rebellion.  The Prodigal Son is not the exception of love, but the very definition of it.  (Steve Brown, Born Free, 138)

 

Heidelberg Catechism: Question number 60 Q. How are you right with God?

A.    Only by true faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21-28; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11).

Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all of God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them (Rom 3:9-10), and even though I am still inclined towards all evil (Rom 7:23), nevertheless, without my deserving it at all (Ti 3:4-5), out of sheer grace (Rom 3:24; Eph 2:8), God grants and credits to me the perfect salvation, righteousness, and holiness of Christ (Rom 4:3-5; Gn 15:6; 2 Cor 5:17-19; 1 Jn 2:1-2), as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me (Rom 4:24-25; 2 Cor 5:21).

All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart (Jn 3:18; Acts 16:30-31).

 

At this point many people ask the question, “Why couldn’t God just forgive?”  An executive of a large corporation said, “My employees often do something, break something, and I just forgive them.”  Then he added, “Are you trying to tell me I can do something that God can’t do?”  People fail to realize that wherever there is forgiveness there’s a payment.  For example, let’s say my daughter breaks a lamp in my home.  I’m a loving and forgiving father, so I put her on my lap, and I hug her and I say, “Don’t cry, honey.  Daddy loves you and forgives you.”  Now usually the person I tell that story to says, “Well, that’s what God ought to do.”  Then I ask the question, “Who pays for the lamp?”  The fact is, I do.  There’s always a price in forgiveness.  Let’s say somebody insults you in front of others and later you graciously say, “I forgive you.”  Who bears the price of the insult?  You do.

This is what God has done.  God has said, “I forgive you.”  But he was willing to pay the price himself through the cross.  (Josh McDowell, More Than a Carpenter, 115-16)

 

There are people who are great at putting out fires and there are people who love to start fires or pour gasoline on fires.  God bless the person who is able to help put out the fires that are burning and destroying the ties of relationships. —  Pastor Keith

 

II.  Conflicts come:  Grace is the oil to lubricate friction through forgiveness, patience, mercy and love.  (Prv 15:1; 2 Cor 9:8;12:9; Col 4:6; 2 Tm 2:1; Heb 12:15; 13:9; 1 Pt 1:13; 4:7-11; 5:10)

 

Love sees through a telescope, not a microscope.  (Barbara Johnson)

 

Love reduces friction to a fraction.

 

Just as the man who loves God will almost certainly incur greater suffering in this world than the man who does not, so it is that a man who loves a woman may, by virtue of that very fact, open himself up to deeper levels of suffering than a man who will not commit himself to any love at all.  For it is not in the nature of love to deflect pain, but rather to absorb it, and to absorb greater and greater amounts of it.  Marriage gives a face to suffering, just as it gives a face to joy, and thereby enables the suffering not to be lessened, but rather to be transformed from something inhuman and faceless into something fully human, something which registers in the depths of relational personhood.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 170) (red, bold emphasis Pastor Keith)

 

You can’t forgive until you have been forgiven and only then can you for give to the degree that you have been forgiven.  (Mt 18:32-33)

 

A lot of marriage ties are cut by a sharp tongue.

 

Personality conflicts are in reality conflicting weaknesses and could be called temperament conflicts.  They are weaknesses in one partner that irritate the weaknesses in the other.  (Tim LaHaye, How to Be Happy Though Married, 20)

 

Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24).  Righteous judgment is the direct result of love.  If you cannot pray in love for a person or the church, do not presume you have true discernment.  Love precedes peace, and peace precedes perception.  Without love and peace in your heart, your judgment will be overly harsh.  Regardless of the smile upon your face, your heart will have too much anger.  False discernment is always slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 81)

 

“If you want to know the problem in any organization, look for the ego.  There is no forgiveness where there is ego.

 

Forgiveness is difficult, costly, and painful.  To forgive means that the innocent one carries his own wrath at the sin of the offending one and resolves his indignation through love!  A refusal to forgive means that we keep the offending person as “beholden” to us, as obligated or indebted to us.  To forgive means that we release the other person, that we accept the loss that has come to us from their offense, and let them go free.  In forgiving we actually carry our own wrath at their sin and resolve this through love, refusing to make them feel our wrath and extending to them acceptance, love, and fellowship.  God has done just this in Christ, reconciling us to Himself, absorbing our hostility into Himself, carrying His own wrath at our sin, and speaking back the word of acceptance.  “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Cor. 5:19).  This verse makes reconciliation central to the meaning and the message of grace. (Myron S. Augsburger; The Christ-Shaped Conscience, 28)

 

C.S. Lewis confessed that he too struggled with how to truly love the sinner while hating the sin.  One day it suddenly became clear: “It occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life–namely myself.  However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself.  There had never been the slightest difficulty about it.  In fact, the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man.  Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 171)

 

When a church learns to forgive, they’ll be able to grow.

When a marriage learns to forgive that relationship will be able to grow.

When a team learns to forgive, that team will be able to grow.

When an organization learns to forgive, that organization will be able to grow.  (Steve Brown)

 

God will forgive anyone anything except for those who don’t forgive anyone anything.  (Steve Brown)

 

The solution to sin was not law but grace.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Romans, 110)

 

Forgiveness is a prerequisite for love.  (Steve Brown)

 

Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you.  (Archibald Hart)

 

“Forgiveness is letting go.  Untying the knot that binds us to another who has hurt us.”    (Gary Smalley)

 

Faults are thick where love is thin.  (English Proverb)

 

The Law is a divinely sent Hercules to attack and kill the monster of self-righteousness and to show us every day just how desperate we need God’s grace. –Martin Luther   (Tullian Tevidgjian, “Life Without God”)

 

Grace is respect for the vows no matter what it costs you. Especially in those times when we are thinking, “At this moment you really tick me off.  But, I decided to love you anyway.”  The covenant we made in those vows is the motivation and the power we can have to extend grace.   If we look to Jesus we can find that kind of power and motivation to keep the covenant and extend grace.  (Loose paraphrase of Colleen Ladd 5-4-14)

 

Truth without love ruins the oneness, and love without truth gives the illusion of unity but actually stops the journey and the growth.  The solution is grace.  The experience of Jesus’ grace makes it possible to practice the two most important skills in marriage: forgiveness and repentance.  Only if we are very good at forgiving and very good at repenting can truth and love be kept together.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 182)

 

The Claude Lanzmann-filmed documentary on the Holocaust titled Shoah records the gripping moment when a leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising talks about the bitterness that remains in his heart: “If you could lick my heart,” he says, “it would poison you.”   (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 170)

 

Forgiveness is love.  It means letting go of anger, hostility, and resentment; letting go of hurt and sadness; letting go of the right to get even.  (Doris Wild Helmering; The 7th Sense)

 

Some asked President Abraham Lincoln “What are you going to do with those reprobate Southerners after the war is over?”

He responded, “It will be as if they never left” (Steve Brown, “Vineyard Verities”)

 

Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy.  The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person.  This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage.  It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.

We never know whom we marry; we just think we do.  Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change.  For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it.  The primary problem is…learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.  (Stanley Hauerwas, “Sex and Politics: Bertrand Russell and ‘Human Sexuality,’” Christian Century, April 9, 1978, 417-22)

 

F A M I L Y

I ran into a stranger as he passed by,
“Oh excuse me please” was my reply.

He said, “Please excuse me too;
I wasn’t watching for you.”

We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said good-bye.

But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
“Move out of the way,” I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken.

While I lay awake in bed,
God’s still small voice came to me and said,

“While dealing with a stranger,
common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You’ll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.

He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.”

By this time, I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
“Wake up, little one, wake up,” I said.

“Are these the flowers you picked for me?”
He smiled, “I found ’em, out by the tree.

I picked ’em because they’re pretty like you.
I knew you’d like ’em, especially the blue.”

I said, “Son, I’m very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”
He said, “Oh, Mom, that’s okay.
I love you anyway.”

I said, “Son, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.”

 

III.  The more grace the more stable, intimate and encouraging the relationship.  (1 Cor 7:1-7, 32-35; Eph 5:21-33; Heb 4:16)

 

There is an irrelevant and erroneous saying about marriage that has somehow become popular: Marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Marriage, under God, should be a one hundred percent to nothing proposition.  That is, you should go into your marriage with the idea that you are going to give yourself for the purpose of making your partner happy and expect nothing in return.  The result will be your own happiness.  Your desire in marriage should be to make your partner happy.  Of course, if you do that you will reap happiness in return.  (Tim LaHaye, How to Be Happy Though Married, 101)

 

A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.  (Ruth Bell Graham)

 

There is a secret resentment of the demands of marriage, a reluctance to give away any more than is absolutely necessary.  There is a constant temptation to pull back from the full intensity of the relationship, to get along on only the basic requirements.  But set against this is the constant challenge to give more and more of oneself, at deeper and deeper levels, and to see in one’s partner a most abundant and perfect channel for the outpouring of the grace of God into one’s life.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 27)

 

If you cannot bear to really look at all the stupidity of your life, if you cannot bear to see what is wrong with you, if you cannot bear to really see your flaws, if you can’t just take criticism, you just go to pieces, cause you know it is true; it is because you really do not have the strength from knowing the grace of God.  It is the grace of God that helps me not feel Oh I must be OK but gives me the freedom to admit what is wrong with me without being devastated.  And therefore, Jesus Christ is saying, “Do you know that unless you know the depth of your sin and the height of God’s grace:  When things go well you are going to be smug instead of happy and grateful or when things go poorly you are going to be devastated instead of hopeful and enduring?”

Unless you see both of those you are going to move back and forth from being a proud Pharisee or being a cynical skeptic and you’re going to not be able to handle the suffering and troubles of life. (Tim Keller, “The Falling Tower”)

 

Humility is accompanied by much happiness and peace.  But the proud man is trouble for everyone who knows him.  Anything can irritate the proud person and hardly anything can please him.  He is ready to complain about everything that happens as if he were so important that Almighty God should see to it that he is always happy.  He acts as if all the creatures of heaven and earth should wait upon him and obey his will.  The leaves of high trees shake with every blast of wind.  Likewise, every casual conversation or harsh word will upset and torment a proud man.   (Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 51)

 

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace.  And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.  (Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace, 18)

 

To love is to be caught in the vortex of another’s humanity, to spiral down and down into the murky, tragic tangles of the sinful flesh, where only pure love can go without being defiled.  If hatred often consists in being repelled by mere impressions, by surface characteristics in other people who happen to rub us the wrong way, then love consists in seeing into the very center of the twistedness and sin and self-love that are in the heart of another person, and yet not being repelled: holding onto the grace by which we ourselves are loved and finding in it the strength to descend with another into their darkest place.  If we love other people for their saintliness, then we do not love at all.  Love is wasted on saints.  It is meant for the sinner.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 195-96)

 

In the single conversation Christ had with Zacchaeus, Brennan reminded us, Jesus spoke affirmation and love, and the tax collector sold his possessions and made amends to those he had robbed. It was the affection of Christ, not the brutality of a town, that healed Zacchaeus.

Manning went on to speak of the great danger of a harsh word, the power of unlove to deteriorate a person’s heart and spirit, and how, as representatives of the grace and love of God, our communication should be seasoned with love and compassion. (Donald Miller; Blue Like Jazz, 183)

 

Forgive and feel better

Letting go of a grudge is good for your health!  By Jeanann Pannasch for Lifetime

Your sister carelessly spills red wine on your brand-new, snow-white carpet. Your boyfriend makes a pass at your best friend. A driver accidentally knocks your kid off her bike, breaking her leg.

For most of us, any one of these scenarios might be enough to fill us with frustration and rage. But while the 1970s pop psychotherapy movement focused on the importance of letting anger out, more recent research suggests that there’s a smarter, healthier way to react to life’s slings and arrows: with forgiveness.  Indeed, a new field of research is turning up bona fide health benefits that come along with forgiving. Experts have found that letting go of a grudge lowers heart rate and blood pressure.

In a recent study, Charlotte Witvleit, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, found that when individuals were able to forgive, they experienced greater joy, a more profound sense of control over life and less depression. Sound appealing?

Why holding a grudge can be toxic

Your boyfriend blows you off for an important date. If you stay angry at him, you’ll probably get fresh flowers on your doorstep and maybe a fancy meal or two. But grudge-holding only gives us the illusion of power, says Everett L. Worthington Jr., Ph.D., executive director of A Campaign for Forgiveness Research.

If you hold on to that anger on a chronic basis, then it has power over you, eating away at your peace of mind and perhaps even your immune system. A study by Kathleen Lawler, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, confirms that people who are unable to forgive report more stress in their lives, more illness and more visits to the doctor than do forgiving folk.

Going from a grudge to forgiveness

Researchers have found that the greatest predictor of an individual’s ability to bury the hatchet is personality. People who are naturally prone to being angry, fearful or overly sensitive are less likely to forgive than people with empathetic, agreeable dispositions.  But everyone is capable of forgiveness; some of us just have to work harder at it.

A few ways to develop your capacity to turn the other cheek:

– Try writing a daily “forgiveness” reminder in your journal; it may sound corny, but it’s a great way to help gain control over your emotional life.

– Write a letter to your offender, detailing exactly what’s bothering you. Then toss it. You’ll feel better, even if your message never reaches its intended target.

– What, exactly, makes your blood boil?  By focusing on your feelings, you’re more likely to connect with your capacity to forgive.

– Give yourself time to forgive. You’re trying to change your emotional habits—and that doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a difference between forgiving and forgetting   Forgiveness isn’t about swallowing anger or being a doormat. It’s not about forgetting, either. On the contrary, it’s about acknowledging a transgression with your eyes wide open —— and then releasing the anger. “To really forgive, you’ve got to replace negative emotions with positive [ones]”—substituting anger, hurt and self-pity with love, says Dr. Worthington.

Another way to think of it: “Letting go of a grudge is a way to return to the peaceful center inside you,” explains Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., research fellow at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention. That means conjuring up empathy toward the person who hurt you, then focusing on the good parts of your life.

An Act of Courage

Still not convinced that it’s worth it to put your energies toward forgiving?  Besides the benefits to your psyche and physical health, true forgiveness is a sign of strength and soulfulness. “It takes a lot of moral muscle to forgive,” says Dr. Witvliet.

The bottom line: Forgiving ultimately benefits the forgiver more than the person who has done wrong. So start putting your own well being first, and live life with as much gusto and love as you can.

 

IV.  Grace is a gift from God and is counter to our sinful, prideful nature.  It is best obtained by humbly looking to Jesus.  (Prv 3:34; 4:1-9; Mt 6:14-15; Jn 1:14-18; Acts 13:43; Rom 1:7; 5:8-21; 12:3-6; 15:15; 1 Cor 1:3-4; 3:10; 15:10; 2 Cor 1:11-12; 9:14; Gal 1:3;  Eph 4:7; 6:24; Jas 4:6; 1 Pt 4:7-11; 5:5)

 

Broken marriages begin to mend and communication is reestablished when one of the partners is willing to make a breakthrough and say, “Lord, begin with me. I am the one who needs to change, to love more deeply and more wisely.” Even if you think your spouse is 100% wrong, when you stand in the presence of Christ you will begin to see that you, too, have shortcomings. You will discern where you have failed to accept responsibility for the marital relationship, and you will be able to say, “God, change me.” The Christian is committed to follow Christ who went all the way in love, all the time. So, for a start, stop demanding that your partner change his ways. Let God start changing you. (Lionel Whitston, Homemade, April, 1990)

 

The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once.  The gospel is this:  We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.  This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us.  Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws.  Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.  God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.  The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent.  The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 44)

 

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.  It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.  Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son; “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.  Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.  —Deitrich Bonhoeffer  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Romans, 114)

 

The only true and enduring motivation for the ministry of mercy is an experience and a grasp of the grace of God in the gospel.  If we know we are sinners saved by grace alone, we will be both open and generous to the outcasts and the unlovely.  (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 58)

 

If you are not making the devout nervous you are not preaching grace as you ought.  The message of grace is scandalous.  (Tullian Tevidgjian “Life Without God”)

 

There is a direct correlation between a lack of forgiveness and a lack of self-knowledge.  When you know yourself, you will forgive.  (Steve Brown, Born Free, 184)

 

Grace is the unmerited favor of God apart from human works, and it comes to use by simple acceptance, which is faith.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–Romans, Volume 1, 474)

 

To be under grace is to be free from the guilt of knowing the right but falling short of doing it.  Grace means “that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1).  It means that despite ourselves God is for us (8:31), God is faithful (2 Cor 1:18), and God frees us for himself (Gal 5:1).  (James R. Edwards, New International Biblical Commentary–Romans, 165)

 

The great preacher Donald Grey Barnhouse observed, “Love that gives upward is worship, love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace” (Exposition of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the romans as a Point of Departure, vol. 1, 72)

 

God cannot use a proud man.  “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pt 5:5).  The man who is puffed up with pride, self-esteem, cannot be filled up with the Holy Spirit.  Paul saw this danger for himself.  God saw it for him, and Paul writes, “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2 Cor 12:7).  How many men have failed here!  They have sought God’s power, sought it in God’s way, and it has come.  Men have testified of the blessing received through their word, and pride has entered and been indulged, and all is lost.  (R. A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, 78-79)

 

Worship point:  Come to see Jesus as full of grace and truth and what a miracle it is to be simultaneously full of both and exhibit both.  Once you contemplate what this means, you will not only be a better lover, spouse, friend and human being; but you will worship Christ as well.

 

Spiritual Challenge: Pride/ego kills grace.  Grace comes by humbly submitting to the God of the Universe.  Look to Jesus who is full of grace and truth to find the grace you need to have healthy, vital and mutually satisfying and encouraging relationships.

 

PLEASE DO NOT MARRY IF:

1. You are unwilling to put the needs of another person above your own.

2. You are easily offended, carry grudges and are unwilling to forgive.

3. You are an abusive person (Mentally, emotionally and physically).

4. You are unwilling to commit.

5. You have an unresolved addiction problem.

6. Your career is the most important thing in your life.

7. You do not share the same beliefs, values, life priorities or vision.

8. You are unwilling to be an active partner sexually with your spouse.

9. You are unwilling to agree on an approach for handling finances, children and life decisions.

10. You expect your spouse to change after you get married.

Remember, successful marriages are not of perfection, rather of two people willing to grow closer to Christ and each other.  Don’t be discouraged if you struggle with any of the above reasons, but before you get married, do yourself and your future spouse a favor by first committing to grow stronger in each area.

Now…would you like to know my TEN REASONS TO STAY MARRIED?
You can read them right now at LoveYourMarriage.com.

 

Quotes to Note:

Christian people are mistaking natural qualities, niceness, a cultural veneer or politeness, for true Christian grace.  It seems that we are no longer capable of differentiating between the two.  How often today is affability mistaken for saintliness!  “What a gracious man he is,” they say.  What they really mean is this: he never criticizes and he agrees with everybody and everything.  I know of nothing more dangerous than that.  These so-called gracious men are, of course, altogether nicer than John the Baptist or the Apostle Paul!  I do not hesitate to go further–they are very much nicer than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who denounced the Pharisees!  Affability is not saintliness.  A mere intellectual, moral flabbiness, is not synonymous with graciousness and with the possession of grace!  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 10, 32)

 

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

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