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Sermon #62[i] — Romans Series
Text: Romans 5:20-21
Subject: The Grace of God
My subject is Grace, the grace of God, the abounding, super-abounding, much-more-abounding grace of God. My text is Romans 5:20-21. “Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded grace did much more abound; That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1. The source and fountain of grace is God the Father (Ephesians 1:3), who purposed in himself the everlasting salvation of an elect multitude before the world began, and on behalf of that elect multitude made a covenant of grace with his Son, ordered in all things and sure.
2. The mediatorial channel of grace is God the Son (John 1:17). The grace of God is revealed and given to men only by the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Certainly, that does not mean that God did not save men by grace before the incarnation of Christ. He did. Salvation has always been by grace (Genesis 6:8). And that grace has always been found and given in Christ (Romans 3:24-26). But grace and truth were fully revealed in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. Christ alone always has been, is now, and shall forever be the solitary channel of grace (Romans 5:15, 17, 21; 1 Timothy 2:5; Titus 2:11-14).
· Grace does not come through the church.
· Grace cannot be conferred by some pretentious, earthly priest.
· And grace is not given through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
· Grace comes to sinners through Christ alone.
3. The only Bestower of grace is God the Holy Ghost, who is called “the Spirit of grace” (Zechariah 12:10). He is the One who applies the Gospel to the hearts of sinners with saving power. He quickens God’s elect while they are yet spiritually dead. He conquers the rebel’s will, melts the hard heart, opens the blind eye, and cleanses the soul. He gives ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. The Gospel of God is the message of grace, pure, free, sovereign, eternal, immutable, irresistible, indestructible grace. It is called “the Gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). To the self-righteous religionist, it is a stumbling block. To the learned, philosophical worldling, it is foolishness. Why? Because there is nothing in the Gospel to gratify the pride of man.
· The Gospel of God declares that sinners are saved by grace alone, that man can never be saved, but by the grace of God.
· It declares that apart from Christ, the unspeakable gift of God’s grace, there is no salvation and that the state of every human being is desperate, hopeless, and irretrievably lost, except God intervene (Ephesians 2:1-4).
· The Gospel addresses men and women as depraved, guilty, condemned, perishing sinners. It puts us all upon one level.
· The Gospel declares that the purest moralist is in the same condition as the vilest profligate, that the zealous religionist is no better off than the most profane infidel.
· Without Christ, without grace, all are lost!
The Gospel addresses every descendant of Adam as a fallen, polluted, hell-bent, hell-deserving sinner, utterly incapable of changing his ruined condition. The grace of God, which I now preach to you by the Gospel, is your only hope. All men, by nature, stand before God’s holy law as justly condemned felons, awaiting the execution of his wrath upon us (John 3:18, 36; Romans 3:19). Our only hope is grace!
“Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own nature, so averse to God that they cannot turn to him, so blind that they cannot see him, so deaf that they cannot hear him, and so dead that he must himself open their graves and lift them into resurrection.” (George S. Bishop).
Proposition: Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is the grace of God freely bestowed upon sinners through Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Substitute.
1. The Character of Grace.
2. The Works of Grace.
3. The Trophies of Grace.
The Character of Grace
First, I want to show you the character of God’s grace as it is revealed in Holy Scripture. — All the religious world talks about salvation by grace. But few understand the character of God’s grace as it is revealed in the Word of God. And as soon as grace is defined in biblical terms, man’s opposition to it comes to surface.
Grace is an attribute of God that, like his love, is exercised only toward his elect. Nowhere in the Bible do we read of universal grace, common grace, or of grace bestowed upon mankind in general. The mercy of God is “over all his works” (Psalm 145:9). But the grace of God is upon his elect. The mercy of God is life upon this earth. The grace of God is eternal life. Mercy is anything short of eternal wrath. The grace of God is eternal salvation. Grace is the solitary source from which the goodwill, love, and salvation of God flow to his chosen people.
“It is the eternal and absolute free favor of God, manifested in the vouchsafement (infallible promise) of spiritual and eternal blessings to the guilty and unworthy.” (Abraham Booth)
Arthur Pink wrote, “Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in bestowing blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded.”
Grace is completely unmerited and unsought. It is altogether unattracted by us. Grace cannot be bought, earned, or won by anything in us or done by us. If it could, it would cease to be grace. Grace is bestowed upon sinners without attraction, without condition, without qualification. When it comes, it comes as a matter of pure charity, unsought, unasked, and undesired.
In Bible terms grace is placed in direct opposition to works, worthiness, and merit in the creature (Romans 11:6; 4:4-5; Galatians 5:1-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9-10). Grace and works will not mix. And any attempt by man to mix the grace of God with the works of man or the will of man is both blasphemy and a total denial of grace.
(Romans 4:4-5) “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
(Romans 11:6) “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
(Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
(2 Timothy 1:9-10) “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”
(Galatians 5:1-4) “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
If you will search the Scriptures, you will find that there are four things which always characterize the grace of God. Whenever men speak contrary to these four things they deny the grace of God.
1. The grace of God is eternal (Romans 8:28-30; 2 Timothy 1:9).
(Romans 8:28-30) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
(2 Timothy 1:9) “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
Grace does not originate in time and cannot be controlled or directed by anything in time. Grace is eternal.
2. The grace of God is free (Romans 3:24).
(Romans 3:24) “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
When God declares in his Word that his grace is free, he is telling us that his grace is…
· Without Qualification!
· Without Condition!
· Without Change!
3. The grace of God is sovereign (Romans 5:21).
(Romans 5:21) “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Grace reigns, everywhere, over all things. If grace reigns, then it reigns from a throne. And the One who sits upon the throne is sovereign. The throne of the sovereign God is called “the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). When the Bible declares that grace is sovereign, it is declaring that God is gracious to whom he will be gracious (Romans 9:11-18).
(Romans 9:11-18) “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (12) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. (13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. (17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
Salvation and eternal life is the gift of God (Romans 6:23).
(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
· If it is a gift it cannot be claimed as a right.
· If it is a gift it cannot be earned.
· If it is a gift, the Giver is free to bestow it upon whom he will.
Nothing so riles man’s hatred of God as the declaration that grace is free, sovereign, and eternal. This is the offence of the Gospel.
· Grace is abasing to man’s proud heart, putting all upon one level.
· Grace gives no recognition to the imaginary righteousness of man.
· Grace makes fallen man to be utterly dependent upon the goodness of God for salvation.
4. And the grace of God is distinguishing (1 Corinthians 4:7).
(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
(Exodus 11:7) “But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”
Grace discriminates men. Grace segregates men. Grace makes differences between men. Grace chooses some and passes by others. God has his favorites, whom he has from eternity singled out from the rest of Adam’s race, to whom he will be gracious.
· Grace separated Abraham from the rest of his family.
· Grace separated Jacob and Esau.
· Grace separated David from his brothers.
The only difference between saved sinners and lost sinners is grace. Every child of God knows it and gladly acknowledges, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
The Works of Grace
Let me briefly show you THE WORKS OF GRACE as they are set forth in the Word of God. I will not spend much time here. But I want you to understand that everything involved in the salvation of sinners is the work of God’s grace. There is nothing required for our salvation that is in anyway dependent upon, determined by, or conditioned upon us, not our worth, not our works, and not our will. We are saved by grace alone (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:1-9).
(Ephesians 1:3-14) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
(Ephesians 2:1-9) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
1. God’s election is the election of grace (Romans 11:5-6).
(Romans 11:5-6) “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
2. God’s covenant is the covenant of grace (Psalm 89:2-3).
(Psalms 89:2-3) “For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. (3) I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant.”
3. Our adoption into the family of God was by grace (Ephesians 1:5-6).
(Ephesians 1:3-6) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
4. The redemption of our souls by Christ was a marvelous work of God’s grace (Hebrews 2:9).
(Hebrews 2:9) “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
(Hebrews 2:16) “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”
5. We are justified by grace (Romans 3:24).
(Romans 3:24) “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
6. We are forgiven by grace (Ephesians 1:7).
(Ephesians 1:7) “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
7. Our regeneration and calling is by the grace and power of God the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1:15-16).
(Galatians 1:15-16) “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, (16) To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:”
8. Our sanctification is by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 1:30).
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
9. Our preservation in grace is by grace (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
(1 Peter 1:1-5) “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (2) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
10. And our resurrection shall be the work of God’s grace (John 5:25-28).
(John 5:25-28) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (26) For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (27) And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (28) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.”
(Revelation 20:6) “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
From the gates of hell to the gates of heavenly glory, we owe our salvation to grace alone. When almighty God has finished the work, he shall “bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it!” (Zechariah 4:7).
The Trophies of Grace
Let me finish my message by showing you some of THE TROPHIES OF GOD’S GRACE. The glory of the grace of God shines forth most splendrously when we behold the unworthiness of those whom he has saved by his marvelous grace (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Here are four trophies of grace which will serve to illustrate what I have so feebly tried to preach.
1. Manasseh, King of Judah (2 Chronicles 33:1-13).
Manasseh was a barbaric monster. He sacrificed his own children to fiery altars of idolatry. He filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. His sacrilegious indecencies perverted the whole nation. He lead Judah into corruptions unmentionable even among the heathen. Yet, the grace of God touched his heart, renewed his soul, forgave his sin, and made him an heir of heavenly glory!
(2 Chronicles 33:1-13) “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: (2) But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. (3) For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. (4) Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. (5) And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. (6) And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. (7) And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: (8) Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. (9) So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. (10) And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. (11) Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. (12) And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, (13) And prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.”
2. Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9).
A more blood thirsty persecutor of God’s Church the world has never known than Saul. He was a monster of a man, set upon the destruction of God’s lambs, bent upon the annihilation of Christianity. His thirst for violence and murder was insatiable. His rancorous heart was filled with violence. Never did a man live who, in the opinion of human judgment, was more certainly deserving of eternal damnation. Yet, this godless, implacable wretch of a man is today seated with Christ upon his throne, a trophy of the grace of God!
3. The Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
These people were the most sensual, profligate people of the ancient Roman world. They were the most vile of the vilest age in the annals of human history. Yet, through the infinitely tender mercies of an ever gracious God, a great multitude of them today are robed in white and crowned with glory.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
4. The Man who now preaches grace to you!
· I am Gomer!
· I am Onesimus!
· I am the prodigal son!
· I am a sinner saved by grace!
· Grace chose me.
· Grace redeemed me.
· Grace preserved me.
· Grace called me.
· Grace keeps me.
· Grace will bring me home.
· And grace, the God of all grace shall forever be magnified, honored and praise by me, in me, and for me (Psalm 106:8; Ephesians 2:7).
(Psalms 106:8) “Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”
(Ephesians 2:7) “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
(Psalms 115:1) “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”
[i] Danville — Sunday Morning — August 2, 2015
Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Princeton, NJ — (08/02/15)
Reading: 2 Chronicles 33:1-33:2