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Amazing Grace

  • Amazing Grace

     

    Amazing Grace from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

    Transcript:

    The song Amazing Grace was written by John Newton, who worked on a slave ship. John was special. Though sailors were known for profanity, the captain said that John was the most profane man that he had ever met, and he stayed in constant trouble. One of his favorite hobbies was inventing new phrases and poems to mock the captain with, and getting the crew to sing them. Many times, John was chained up right alongside the slaves in the hold. For a while he served as a slave himself, then after his father rescued him, he became the captain of a slave ship.

    In 1748, they ran into a violent storm at sea while off the coast of Ireland, and men were being washed overboard as the waves broke over the ship. John and a friend strapped themselves to the pump for 11 hours trying to keep the ship a float, and though he was not a religious man at the beginning, the storm was so bad that he cried out to God for mercy, and later gave his heart to Jesus.

    John Newton became a preacher, and he wrote this song as an illustration to one of his sermons. It was his spiritual journey. “How could God have mercy on a wretch like me.” After all that he had done, John found that God still loved him. He called his song “Amazing Grace.”:

    Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
    that saved a wretch like me.
    I once was lost, but now am found,
    was blind, but now I see.

    'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    and grace my fears relieved.
    How precious did that grace appear,
    the hour I first believed.

    When we've been there ten thousand years,
    bright shining as the sun,
    We've no less days to sing God's praise
    than when we’d first begun.


    “Amazing Grace”: We toss that word around a lot these days, but I want to slow down, examine it closer, and see what it really means.

    I hope to make this a simple, down to earth, back to basics message. My goal is that someone who has never heard of grace, will understand what it means when I am done. It is going to be based in Ephesians chapter 2, so if you want to read it in your own Bible, turn there.


    Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 2 verse 8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

    That is a beautiful verse and one of the foundational truths that sparked the reformation of the church in the 1500s, who at the time, were selling salvation to the ignorant sheep who were not even allowed to have a Bible.

    “For by grace you have been saved”: Grace. Let’s take a moment and define that.


    The Greek word used for Grace here is “Charis” and it occurs 155 times in the new testament. 128 of those times, it is translated as “Grace.”

    Grace is the unmerited favor of God. This is God’s favor that cannot be earned by any means, but is freely given to us by God because He is good. Paul said that we are saved by Grace, through Faith. So we have a way that Grace comes to us: Through Faith. Paul used Charis 23 times in the book of Romans alone where the theme is “Justified by faith.” Justified means: “Just as if I had never sinned” and Paul said that it comes through “Faith.”

    So what is faith? The writer of Hebrews began chapter 11 with: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Faith is essentially believing in the invisible. Hebrews 11:6 reads: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

    That makes sense to me, you need to believe in God in order to be saved. Paul confirmed this in Romans 10:9 when he wrote: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Again, it requires believing in the invisible. So our “being saved” is entirely free, completely paid for, a free gift from God, and we can add nothing to it.

    Willam Temple accurately said that the “only thing that a man can contribute to his redemption, is the sin from which he needs to be redeemed.” That is all that we bring to the table, our sin.

    We are saved by Grace, which is the unearned favor of God, through faith, which is believing in the invisible God that we cannot see. Salvation, being “saved”, is a completely free gift, but afterwards we are to become more like Him. After our conversion, good works should follow us. As we become more Christlike, we should also take on more of His attributes. We should grow in good works and love for others.

    Jesus left us a new commandment in John chapter 13:24 and He said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Good works does not produce salvation, they are the evidence of salvation (see James 1:22; 2:14–26).

    James wrote in chapter 1:22: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”

    Then in James 2:14–18: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (NKJV).

    So let’s put all of this together in an understandable format:
    1) We are saved by Grace: The unearned favor of God.
    2) Through Faith: Which is believing in the unseen.
    3) Good works following us are the evidence of our salvation.

    Grace, the good favor of God, has been around since the beginning, but not everyone obtained it.
    - In Genesis 6:8 it reads: “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”
    - In Exodus 33:12 God told Moses: “I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’
    - In John 1:17 he wrote: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

    Grace came to those that believe in Jesus, all of us that are not ashamed to call Jesus Lord. In Zechariah 4:6 it reads: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts. That is what Christianity is all about, not accomplishing things in our own strength and wisdom, but by His Spirit. Us humbly working with the Holy Spirit, and being led daily by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

    Legalism:
    The polar opposite of Grace is legalism, which is defined as: “Excessive adherence to a law or formula.” Legalism requires you to keep a set of rules in order to be saved, instead of having personal faith in Jesus Christ. It allows you to earn your salvation by “being a good person.” It is often found at the center of a cold, dead religion.


    The verse that we are focusing on is Ephesians 2:8 and it reads: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

    Salvation is a gift from God, not of works, lest we should boast that we had somehow worked for it, and paid the price ourselves. God will not allow human pride to glory in earning our salvation. This is what the early church reformers taught, and the legalistic religious leaders burned them at the stake for heresy. Religious rule keeping makes people into devils, and some of the most violent, greedy, blood thirsty acts in the history of the world, were committed in the name of Jesus during the dark ages.

    As far as I know, Christianity is the only religion in the world that has “Grace” at its center, The Almighty God freely giving His salvation to those that will accept it, faith plus nothing. In all other religions, you earn your status by keeping a set of rules. Because of this, there is a gravitational pull towards legalism in the church. Many will compromise the simple gospel of grace, in order to better fit in with the religions around them. We like to earn it.do

    What we end up with is a mixture of works and grace. We believe that we are earning God’s favor by doing, or not doing something. Every single one of us has our list, and when we fail to live up to our own rules, we feel condemnation. We are slaves to a legalistic mind, instead of the mind of Christ, and we are not the first. History is riddled with legalistic Christianity.

    The church at Galatia had accepted the gospel of Jesus and were walking in the Spirit, but then false teachers came in and taught them a mixture of grace and law, teaching that they must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. Paul was furious, he called them “Perverts” for perverting the gospel of Christ. To “pervert” means to alter something from its original course. They changed the gospel of Christ into something else, something perverted, something that was a mixture of grace and works, and no longer in its original form.

    Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians in chapter 3:1: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

    Anything that requires works to be saved is not the grace that the New Testament teaches. Paul wrote in Romans 4:3: “For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

    Again we have someone that believed God, that is the essence of faith that we talked about earlier, believing in the unseen God. Abraham believed God, and it was counted as righteousness. Our faith will be counted as righteousness as well, if we don’t get deceived into the perverted gospel of works and begin to think that we are earning our salvation like the Galatians did. You cannot earn your salvation. It is a free gift from God.


    Things that do not save us:
    We are saved by Grace, the unmerited, unearned favor of God through faith in Jesus Christ. This means that we are not saved by: Being a good person, by attending church, by visiting nursing homes, by feeding the homeless, by tithing, by fasting, or by being a pastor. We are saved by Grace, through Faith, and it is a gift from God, not by our own works, because we would boast like God owed it to us. Though we tend to do that anyways…

    Until someone has had a spiritual experience with the Lord Jesus Christ, their concept of salvation will always be built on a foundation of works, just like the other religions of the world. The natural mind has no concept of grace and faith. That is why the Lord said: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit Says the LORD.” The carnal mind does not comprehend spiritual things, it has to be renewed.

    Just as I am without one plea, my Savior’s blood was shed for me. Until we meet Jesus, we are spiritually dead, whether we attend church or not, whether we do good deeds, or not. Charles Spurgeon said that he had visited churches, and saw dead men in the pulpit, dead men as deacons, dead men passing the offering plate, and dead men sitting to hear. Going to church will not save you, but knowing Jesus Christ will.

    Accepting the grace of God at face value is something difficult for the human mind to grasp, but Paul made it very clear that if you trust Christ plus something else, you are not saved. When the perverts were teaching people that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved, Paul wrote them this in Galatians 5:2:

    “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

    In Romans chapter 3:27 Paul wrote: “we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” To try and be justified by keeping a set of rules, or religious rituals, means that you have fallen from grace and have gone back to working for it.

    Say that you did and you were to get paid $1 for each good deed that you did, for attending church, for saying a prayer, and you do all that you can each day, but the cost of a ticket to heaven would be over 100 trillion dollars at the current rate, and you will never earn enough even if you had several lifetimes to do it.

    God knew this and He made a way, but it will cost you your pride. It is a gift from Him. John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God the Father paid the full price for our salvation, so that we do not have to.

    Paul told us in Romans 10:9–10 (NKJV) “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

    Accept God’s Amazing Grace, the free gift of salvation to those that believe. Adding any requirement for salvation besides Grace becomes works in disguise. I am going to pray, and if you feel convicted or want to know Jesus, then say this prayer with me:


    Heavenly Father forgive me of being legalistic and trying to add to what You have already completed. Purge that out of me. I accept Your Amazing Grace for my salvation, and I realize that I can add nothing to it. When You gave Your only begotten Son, it was more than enough. Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.


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3 comments
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David and Dianna Wyles
David and Dianna Wyles

That was a great service <3 Thank you for posting these so when life gets a bit crazy I can still catch the services on video <3 We are still safe, still under evacuation orders, and still waiting to see what will happen with our hometown Dam<3 Thank you all for your prayers for our communtity's safety. Thank you Pastor and Sylvia for all you do <3 We love you <3 God bless

February 14, 2017
  • 1
Emily Christine
Emily Christine

This really blessed me!!! So thankful for this ministry!!!

February 15, 2017
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Rosemary Marsh
Rosemary Marsh

Thank you Pastor Todd for that great service,and prayer. Thank you Heavenly Father for your love for us and sending Jesus Christ your only begotten Son to die for our sins.

February 18, 2017