Rockport Sermon

Monday, January 26, 2009

By Grace Alone

8 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.
Ephesians 2:8-9

It is humbling to believe the Gospel. Religion, on the other hand, is a great foundation for human pride. Religion lets me continue to think well of myself even as I exult in “the depths” of my devotion to God. With religion I am the one in charge. I set the pace. I make the decisions (at least the ones that really matter!). I devote myself to God’s cause and do my best to practice my faith in a way I feel is both personally fulfilling and, I imagine, of help to God.

But the Gospel is just the reverse. When the Gospel comes to me, it finds me to be an outcast, powerless and – to be honest – anything but devout. No, I am a sinner. A reprobate. A pagan with nothing in me that could commend me to God. Every decision I have ever made – spiritually speaking – has been the wrong one. And even my best acts of righteous devotion have been nothing but filthy rags of self-serving pride. That’s where the Gospel finds me! Not a good man, hoping to be better. Not even a weak man needing to be made strong. But a dead man who needs to be given a life that comes from outside himself.

I remember for years thinking of my salvation as if I had been drowning – going down for the last time - and Christ at the last minute jumped in to save me. Now I know that I was a dead man, three weeks dead, bloated and lying at the bottom of the ocean when Christ, for his own purpose and glory chose to come to me. I could not cry out. I would not save myself. Nevertheless He came. And with a marvelous display of astounding power and grace, He saved me! He rescued the perished and gave life to the dead. Where then is my boasting? It is no more. All I can do is say, “Praise! Praise! Praise for an Amazing Grace!”



Bob said...

yes brother, I agree with your assessment of the greatness of God. What wretches He saved. How unspeakable. However, the language you use here, while it is clearly understood that you are speaking of how God came to you, it could easily be misunderstood that you see yourself now as a reprobate. A pagan. You said "I am a sinner. a reprobate, A sinner". I understand that you mean when the gospel "came" to you. And you are painting the picture of every man, but it could easily be misunderstood that you are saying that you are yet a sinner, when in fact, you are a saint. A saint by the mere grace of God, but a saint nonetheless.
Glory be to God that He made such wretches as we pure and holy, and that is what we are now. There is no need to qualify the Word of God as I have heard many attempt to do. i know. It is so glorious that it seems to need clarification. Sinners made saints. How scandalous! But the gospel is scandalous indeed!

GrammyDeb said...

Thank you for this comment - it is very humbling and insightful, two things I need continuously!