2 COR 12:7-10
INTRO: A few weeks ago I was reading this very familiar passage in which the apostle Paul refers to his "thorn in the flesh", and I came to v. 9. I could not get beyond the Lord's response to Paul's prayer ... "My grace is sufficient for you." For some reason on that particular day those words seemed to be both meaningful and challenging. I could not help but wonder just how content I am with that assurance. I wonder, too, just how many times I might have responded, "Yes, but..." Can I be as accepting, gracious and positive as the apostle was? May I, this morning, visit with you about this assurance from the Lord ... with the hope that I am not only able to help you, but also myself.
I. THE GRACE OF GOD - TITUS 2:11-14
A. God's grace brings salvation
1. Eph 2:8 - "For by grace are ye saved through faith..."
2. neither the works of the law of Moses nor of merit can bring salvation
B. God's grace has been manifested ("appeared")
1. Lk 2:27-32 - "...mine eyes have seen thy salvation..."
2. God's grace appeared in the form of Jesus, His Son - Jno 1:14
C. God's grace is instructive
1. Acts 20:24 - "...to testify the gospel of the grace of God"
2. there is a message from God - that message is the gospel - that message is a provision of God's grace
II. THE GRACE OF GOD IS SUFFICIENT...
A. To provide our salvation
1. God has provided sufficiently and perfectly
2. any thought of salvation other than that which God's grace provides is insufficient, ineffective, useless
3. so, Heb 2:9 - Jesus' atoning death is "for every man"
4. I need to be comfortable, assured in the simplicity of God's salvation!
B. To provide for our direction
1. life presents us with so many choices, challenges, dilemmas
2. and I know that we so often try to meet these things with our own knowledge and wisdom -and too often the results are not satisfying
3. Acts 20:32 - God's grace has provided the up building word - and it is sufficient, all we need, perfect (2 Tim 3:16.17)
4. when life's questions come, go to the word of His grace for answers
C. To provide for our hope
1. "hope" seems to wane in the face of life's realities
2. so many people in our world (perhaps even among us) find themselves with little or no hope for the present or future - life is hard!
3. Titus 2:11-13 - the ultimate hope even if life has been hard, exasperating
4. but God's grace provides hope in prayer - 1 Jno 5:14,15 ... and here is a daily "answer" to real life - Ps 46:1
D. To provide for our comfort
1. not "creature comforts" - but comfort in times of anxiety, distress
2. Phil 4:7 - this is what is desperately needed by so many of us
3. 2 Cor 1:3,4 - from v. 4 I get the impression that God's comfort may well come via others (the church?) who have experienced that comfort!
4. yes, we have the comfort of the scriptures (Rom 15:4) and of prayer (Phil 4:6) - but the comfort of faithful, mature Christians is so "here, and now"
III. BUT DO WE WANT MORE THAN THIS?
A. We are so rooted in this world and in this life
1. everything is so immediate, so pressing, so "necessary"
2. our eyes and our lives are so connected to the temporal - demanding
3. bills to pay, doctors' appointments, children to "taxi", jobs to work - care to give to sick children, spouses, aging parents
4. these are our realities - and they just will not wait
B. So, the world can tend to become consuming in importance
1. the answers we want are who'll pay the bills, taxi the children, etc.
2. to suggest to one who is overwhelmed by life's realities that God's grace is sufficient may not be terribly satisfying
3 "I need real answers to today's problems ... now"
4. so, too, did the apostle Paul
C. I know that there must be reordering of the way we think
1. that is essentially what the Lord told Paul
2. yes, life has its realities - but by finding true satisfaction in our relationship with the Lord our perception of those realities can change - as did Paul's
3. contentment in God's grace takes the edge off of so many dilemmas
4. so, I need to seek the sufficiency that exists in God's grace!
CLOSE: Maybe I just need to have those words etched in mind as a response to things which confront me each day - "my grace is sufficient for thee".
Cecil A. Hutson
06 August 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)