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                       "GRACE AND THE CHRISTIAN"


INTRODUCTION

1. There is a word that conveys wonderful hope and comfort to the
   Christian...
   a. The word is "grace"
   b. It is a word that Paul loved to use
      1) Every epistle that he wrote (with the possible exception of
         Hebrews), begins and ends with mention of this word
      2) E.g., 1Th 1:1; 5:28

2. What does this word actually mean?
   a. How is it used in the N. T. scriptures?
   b. What important things should we keep in mind concerning "grace"?

[In this study, we shall spend a few moments focusing our attention on
this wonderful word, and its relationship to the Christian.  Let's
begin by noticing..]

I. THE DEFINITION OF "GRACE"

   A. THAT WHICH GIVES JOY, PLEASURE, DELIGHT...
      1. This is the original idea of the Greek word "charis"
      2. It is used in the N.T. in this way in reference to SPEECH...
         a. The words of Jesus were spoken with grace - Lk 4:22
         b. The words of the Christian are to impart grace to the
            hearers - Ep 4::29; Col 4:6

   B. GOOD-WILL, LOVINGKINDNESS, FAVOR...
      1. In this way, it is used ...
         a. Of the kindness of a master towards his inferiors or
            servants
         b. And especially of God towards men
      2. THAYER points out that:
         a. "CHARIS contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon
            one what he has not deserved."
         b. "The NT writers use CHARIS preeminently of that kindness by
            which God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving, and
            grants to sinners the pardon of their offenses, and bids
            them accept of eternal salvation through Christ." - e.g.,
            Ep 2:5
      3. It is this particular definition of grace that prompts us to
         think of it most often as "unmerited favor"

   C. A SPIRITUAL STATE OR CONDITION IN WHICH ONE ENJOYS GOD'S FAVOR...
      1. When one accepts God's grace, they are in a "state of grace"
      2. Cf. Ro 5:1-2; 1Pe 5:12

   D. AN EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE FOR FAVOR BESTOWED...
      1. E.g., 1Ti 1:12 where the English word is "thank" ("I thank
         Jesus Christ...")
      2. This is what is meant when people ask someone to "say grace"
         before eating a meal

[Such are the main ways the word GRACE is used in the NT. In connection
with this word, there are some things that Christians should always
keep in mind...]

II. GRACE AND THE CHRISTIAN

   A. WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE!
      1. Salvation is first, foremost, and always a matter of grace!
         - Ep 2:5-8
         a. God doesn't owe us anything
         b. What we deserve is eternal damnation, because all are
            sinners - Ro 3:23; 6:23a
         c. Salvation is a gift, which God in lovingkindness offers to
            man - Ro 6:23b; Tit 3:3-7
      2. No matter what God may call upon us to do in order to receive
         His grace, when we do those things (cf. believe, repent,
         confess Jesus, be baptized)...
         a. In no way can we ever say that we earn or merit salvation
         b. We are still "unworthy servants" - cf. Lk 17:10
      3. We must forever remember that only by God's grace is salvation
         possible!

   B. GOD'S GRACE REQUIRES HOLY LIVING!
      1. Some people reason that since we are saved by grace, we are
         free to do whatever we wish
      2. Yet Paul wrote that the "grace of God...teaches us" to:
         a. Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts
         b. Live soberly, righteously and godly
         c. Look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus
            Christ - cf. Tit 2:11-13
      3. As he continues, Paul explain why Jesus in grace gave Himself
         for us...
         a. That He might redeem us from every lawless deed
         b. That He might purify for Himself His own special people,
            zealous for good works - cf. Tit 2:14
      4. The unmerited favor of God is no excuse to go on sinning!

   C. HOLY LIVING REQUIRES GOD'S GRACE!
      1. To live "soberly, righteously and godly" requires the grace of
         God
      2. We cannot do it on our own, but with God's help we can!
         a. He works in us to do His good will - Php 2:12-13
         b. By His strength we can do all the things He desires of us
            - Php 4:13

   D. WE MUST GROW IN GRACE!
      1. This is especially true if we are going to live holy lives
      2. Peter commands us to grow in grace - cf. 2Pe 3:18
      3. Dear brother or sister, it is not enough just to experience
         God's grace in forgiving our sins
         a. God has so much more to share with us, both in this life
            and the life to come - Ep 2:7
         b. This explains Paul's salutations and benedictions - cf.
            1Th 1:1; 5:28
      4. We can grow in grace through:
         a. Heeding the Word of God - Ac 20:32
         b. Drawing near to God in prayer - He 4:16

   E. WE CAN RECEIVE GOD'S GRACE IN VAIN!
      1. Paul pleaded with the Corinthians that they might not receive
         God's grace in vain - 2Co 6:1
      2. Having received God's grace, it is possible for it to have
         been in vain!
         a. By seeking justification for sin elsewhere - Ga 5:4
            1) In the immediate context, Paul has reference to the Law
               of Moses
            2) But if we seek to be justified by any system of
               salvation by works alone, we will fall from grace!
         b. By using God's grace as an excuse for licentiousness - Jude 4
            1) Some were using grace as an excuse for shameless
               behavior
            2) And yet we have seen that God's grace requires holy
               living - 2Ti 2:11-14
         c. By willful and impenitent sinning, thereby despising the
            Spirit of grace - cf. He 10:26-31
            1) For such a person there no longer remains a sacrifice of
               sin!
            2) Only a fearful expectation of judgment
            3) Why?  Because through such willful and impenitent sin
               one...
               a) Tramples the Son of God underfoot
               b) Counts the blood of the covenant (i.e., Jesus' blood)
                  by which he was sanctified (i.e., saved) a common
                  thing
               c) Insults the Spirit of grace

CONCLUSION

1. What a terrible thing it would be, to have received God's grace in
   vain!
   a. To have received God's grace at one point
   b. But then to make it all vain (useless)

2. But it is just as terrible...
   a. Not to receive it all!
   b. Or having received it, not to grow in it!

3. So I encourage you all, in the words of the writer of Hebrews:

   "look(ing) diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of
   God." - He 12:15

   "let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with
   reverence and godly fear." - He 12:28

   "For it is good that the heart be established by grace..."
   - He 13:9

   "Grace be with you all.  Amen" - He 13:25

Have you received the wonderful grace of God in your life?
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