Charles Stanley - The Riches of God's Grace
Would you like to be rich? I asked that at the first service, and someone in the front row hollered out, "Yes"! And more than likely, many people would answer the same question. Yes, I would like to be rich. Well, let me ask you this question. What would you have to have in your life in order for you to feel rich? How much of it would you have to have? How much of whatever you want would you have to have in order to feel rich? Well, you know, an interesting things is that many people who really and truly believe they are rich really aren't. And many people who feel that they are poor or would say, "I'm certainly far from being rich," really are. And the truth is, both groups are very misinformed for the simple reason they don't understand what true riches are all about.
Think about this. Can a person honestly say I'm rich if they say... and what they have produces no peace, no joy, no contentment, no assurance in their life? No eternal security. How can you have enough of anything without peace, joy, contentment, and a sense of eternal security in your life, how can you call that rich? And on the other hand, people who have all of that look around them and say, "Well, but you know, I wish I had this and I wish I had that". You know what's happening? You're focusing on what you don't have and forgetting the awesome treasure you do have, and the result is you miss out on the blessings of God. God is a good God. He's a loving God. He's provided the very best for His children, and oftentimes we just walk right by it, live every day complaining about what we don't have and not recognizing what we do have.
So, beginning in verse one at Ephesians chapter one, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus; Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ". Then he says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him," that is, in Christ, "before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him," that is, in Christ, "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us".
Think about that. He says the riches of His grace He lavished upon us. Now, what is His grace? His grace is His goodness and kindness given to us in spite, listen, in spite of what we deserve and without any merit on our own. That is, it is His favor, His unmerited favor toward us. And the truth is every single thing that comes our way is an expression of the grace of God. And so, when Paul speaks of the grace of God here, he also, if you'll notice what he said in this passage, he said that He freely bestows His grace upon us. And again, he mentions speaking of the grace of God and the riches of His grace. He talks about, in verse seven of the second chapter, he says, "So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus".
That is, when He says the surpassing riches of His grace. The grace of God, so full of the riches of God toward His children. He said surpassing riches. We can't even begin to describe what God has prepared for His children. And oftentimes, when Paul mentions it, he mentions how the grace of God is lavished upon us, the abundance of God's grace upon us because that's the way God gives what He gives. He's not chintzy. He doesn't just dole it out a little at the time. God has some awesome things in the life of every believer, most people do not even realize. And more than likely, you may be one of those persons. You're thinking about what you don't have rather than what you do have. Maybe nobody's ever informed you of what really and truly took place when you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, what was bestowed to you.
And if you'll notice what he says in this third verse of chapter one, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has," that already in the past, has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". So, what in the world is he talking about? Well, that's what I wanna talk about in this message, and that is "The Riches of the Grace of God". And I want you to listen carefully and I want to encourage you again take some notes because you're gonna need them, I can guarantee you. Now, I wanna prove it because I wanna talk about the riches of His grace. What is it that you possess as a child of God?
Now, when I begin, you could probably gonna say, "Well now, that may be true of some people". No, this is true, what I wanna talk about is true of every single person who has ever trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. This is what God has planned, prepared and, listen, has deposited to your account. That is, when you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, He deposited to your account, by your name, all the riches of the grace that He intends to bestow upon you, there it is in your account. All of these things are true in behalf of every single believer. That's the riches of His grace. And you say, "But what is that"? Well, number one, here's what it is. First of all, God has freed you and me.
Watch this carefully, freed us from keeping the law in order to be saved. That doesn't mean that we're not to live a righteous, godly, holy life. But we don't try to keep the Ten Commandments in order to be acceptable to God. You and I are acceptable to God on the basis of one thing alone, and that is His Son, Jesus Christ, crucified at Calvary, shed His blood, paid the debt of our sin in full. And the moment we accept Him as the full payment of our sin and accept what He did at Calvary, our sins are forgiven on the basis of what He did, not on the basis of what we do. And so one of the riches of His grace is this, we can wake up tomorrow morning free children of God.
Listen, free to be obedient to God, free to walk in His will, free to walk in His way, knowing that if we stumble and fall, we can ask Him to forgive us and we don't have to plead and beg and promise God, "Lord, if You'll forgive me this time, I promise I won't do that again". How many of us have said that? We've all said, "God, just one more time". You know the wonderful thing about God? He never draws a line to say, "I'm gonna forgive you ten times, and the eleventh time you have had it". That's not the way God is. How often does He forgive us? Well, you remember what... He and Peter had a little conversation, seventy times seven, He says you're to forgive your brother. Listen, if I'm to forgive my brother seventy times seven, four hundred and ninety times. In other words, what He was really saying: you keep on forgiving 'em no matter what.
How many times has God forgiven us? Have you forgotten how rich you are in living under the canopy of the grace of God that provides, listen, continuing forgiveness of our sins? You say, "Well, now wait a minute. Does that free me to sin against God"? No. Being freed from the law empowers us to live a godly life, a righteous life, a holy life. When we disobey Him, we get penalized. We confess it, we repent of it, we move on in life. One of the riches of His grace is this: I don't have to live my day wondering if God's gonna strike me dead, if God's gonna penalize, He's gonna punish me, He's gonna get me. You've heard people say, "Well, you know, God is, He's just too good".
Let me ask you a question: How can God be too good? If, listen, if God is infinitely good, how can He be too good? He can't be too good. He's infinitely good. He's not too good, He's so good. So good is God. What? Eternally good, awesomely good, indescribably good, infinitely good. Does He discipline us when we disobey Him? Yes, He does. We say, "How can that be good"? Because listen, if God continued to bless us in our disobedience and our sin, and He didn't discipline us for it, that would be contributing to our sinfulness and our waywardness, and that would not be an expression of love and that wouldn't be the goodness and mercy and grace of God. So, He disciplines us, get us back on the path to do what He wants us to do.
And so, we live, listen, we live with this awesome sense of the forgiveness of God and being freed from the law. If I violate this commandment, God's gonna strike me dead. If I violate this commandment, what's He gonna do? Well, He's gonna, listen, He'll forgive you if you ask Him sincerely and you mean it, repent of it. But, think about this, God is not expecting you to wake up every morning to live by some strict rules, and if you don't, His judgment's coming upon ya. That wouldn't be freedom at all. You know what? It's like this letter I received from this young lady who said, "I've been taught that if I disobey God, He could execute me at any time. I live in fear," she said, "of doing something wrong and God killing me every day of my life".
That is awesome bondage. That is horrible bondage. The grace of God provides forgiveness and the assurance of that forgiveness, not living under a law such as that. Then of course, one of the riches of His grace, He says we now have this eternal relationship with Him, union with Christ. That is, we have a relationship with Him. Listen, He's the one who engineered this. We didn't engineer this, He did it. When you trusted Him as your Savior, He says, "I'm coming to live in you, in Christ Jesus," and Christ Jesus in us. Now for example, oftentimes people will say, "Well, you know, I just wanna hold on. I'm", you ask 'em oftentimes, "Well, are you saved"? "Well, I think so. Well, I hope so". "Well, what do you mean you hope so"? "Well, I'm just holding on".
What that means is this, here's the hand of God and here's their hand... I'm holding onto God. I'm trying to be obedient to Him. I'm trying to live a godly life. Sometimes I think I don't... sometimes I think I just must let go. Let me ask you: What kind of freedom is there in thinking that every day you've got to hold on to this invisible God whom you cannot touch? And this invisible God who's very strict and He's there to condemn quickly. What kind of freedom and liberty? That's not the grace of God, that's me... And suppose I let go. Then what happens? You wanna know what the real picture is? Here's the real picture. This is the hand of God, my hand... You know what? He has an eternal grip on you.
Once you trusted Him as your personal Savior, He came to live on the inside of you, He says He sealed you, watch this, He sealed you forever as a child of God with the Holy Spirit. And He sealed you unto the day of redemption, which means until the day He calls you home. You know what, you may squirm and you may fret and you may do this and you may do that, but you know what? You can't get away from the infinite, omnipotent grip of an unconditional, loving God. That's who has you in His hand. So, one of the riches of His grace we take for granted. In fact, we take most of 'em for granted, that you're eternally secure in Him. You are in union with Him, oneness with Him. And this is what He's referring to.
For example, he says in Romans eight, he says we're the children of God. And He says the Holy Spirit is one who bears witness with us that we are His sons and His daughters. Once you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, God the Father became your eternal heavenly Father, never to cease being your Father. What does He have? Everything. What can He do? Anything, all things. You will, listen, you'll never come to your heavenly Father, watch this now, and have Him say no to you for something that is in His will, His plan, and His wisdom that's best for you. Will you ever come to Him and ask for things that are not best for you? Probably all of us have, and what does He say? He says I love you so much, not gonna give it to ya because if I did, it'd wreck you and ruin your life.
So, whatever's going on in your life, this awesome wealth of our Father, listen, we have the inheritance. Paul says, for example, in Romans, he says we're joint heirs with Jesus Christ, which means all that the Lord Jesus Christ has, we're joint heirs. We're going to enjoy eternally the blessings, the riches of the grace of God. And that's why he says in that second chapter and the seventh verse, that for all eternity, God the Father's going to be demonstrating the riches of His grace toward you and me, the goodness and love that He desires for us. Then I think about the fact He says in Colossians chapter one also that we have been translated, watch this. He says He's translated us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.
Do you realize that you're a child of light? That you and I are to radiate the Lord Jesus Christ. He says let your light so shine that men may see your good works and do what? And glorify your Father which is in heaven. Now, we're not the light. And Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," speaking of Himself. But He says when I leave, you're gonna be the light. That is, we are reflectors of the Lord Jesus Christ so that everybody who meets you and me, listen, they should meet the Lord Jesus Christ who is in us. We're His representatives, we're His ambassadors. He left us here to magnify Him, to manifest Him, to reveal to Him other people, to other people who He is and what He's like.
Think about this, we have the position not only of being a child of God, we have the position of being an ambassador for Christ. Listen, we have the wealth of this relationship. But He says we've been translated. We are no longer in the kingdom of darkness. Many people around us are in darkness. This is why, listen, this is why the unbelieving people around us cannot believe what we believe. They don't see things the way we see them. They don't see God the way we see Him, why? Because deep down inside of them, their guilty, sinful heart has so distorted their view of God.
They're so deceived about the decisions that they make that hurt and hinder everybody oftentimes. They don't understand. They're living in darkness and think that we're the ones who are ignorant. We're not ignorant. We have learned the simple truth of the eternal Word of God by which one day we shall stand before Him and be judged. And this is this righteous God of grace and goodness and love and mercy who, listen, made us one of His children. He says He's translated us. And not only that, he says He's seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Now, you say, "Well now, what in the world could that mean"? When He says He's seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Here's what it means. That from God, listen, from God's perspective, now watch this, when you trusted Him as your personal Savior, all the riches of the grace of God came pouring into your life. And you say, "Well, why didn't somebody tell me that"? I've asked myself that question. When I was saved at twelve, I sure wish somebody had at least explained some of this. But they said, "Charles, you be a good boy and grow up, and one of these days you'll die and go to heaven". What I heard was, "If you grow up and if you be good, you'll die and go to heaven," which was bondage.
What I want you to remember is this. God sees the completed picture of your life and my life. We are His children and we are eternally secure. So, from His perspective, how does He act toward us? He acts toward us as His children. He sees us and knows that because we're saved by His grace, one of these days we're gonna be seated with Him, so from His perspective, it's a done deal. It's like standing on a high building, watching the parade as it begins, watching it end here and seeing the beginning and the end and everything between all at the same time. That's the infinite mind of God.
So, think about this. If He has seated us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that is our position, divinely speaking, we're eternally secure in that. We are his sons and daughters. He sees it as a completed act. We do not have to fear death. We do not have to fear what's gonna happen and suppose this and suppose that and suppose the other. Because, listen, because we're in the grip of Almighty God. And every single, listen, He says He's blessed us already with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus in heavenly places. Then what? He's simply saying to us, as He says here, we have the riches of God's grace now.
Now, think about this also. Think about the fact that He says we have an eternal inheritance. He says, "For by these He has granted to us His precious and," listen, "and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption of this... that is in this world". He says His precious and magnificent promises. Now, what are His precious and magnificent promises? Listen to what He says. He says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again, a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ in order," listen, "to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you".
Do you know how rich you are? Not really. He says you and I have an inheritance, undefiled, listen, can't fade away. Every single thing man and woman has can fade away, can turn to ashes. They can lose it in a split second. You and I have an inheritance in heaven. God has provided for us an inheritance that cannot fade away, cannot be taken away, listen, death can't take it away from us. Listen, money can't buy it, death can't separate us from it. It is an eternal inheritance God has provided for us. And every single day you and I live righteously before Him, you know what we're doing? We're sending up good works. We obey the living God, we're building up that inheritance. We're adding to it. But what He's given to us already, already is an awesome inheritance, which he said is provided for us.
Then He says, for example, He has sanctified us. And Jesus, talking about that in John seventeen, when He was praying there in the garden with His disciples. Listen what the scripture says. To be sanctified means to be set apart by God for God. Think about this. This is your position. Your position is you're a child of God, part of your riches. Your position is you're in the kingdom of God. Your position is, listen, He says you and I have been sanctified. When He saved you, at that very moment He saved you, He set you apart for Himself, for the work that He's called you to do. That's why every single child of God ought to be seeking the will of God, the mind of God. Lord, how do You want me to live? How do You want me to invest my life? How do You want to use my life? Why? Because He's set you apart for a specific life. He says, for example, He sanctified us. Not only that, part of our riches is you and I have the, listen, we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us.
Now, think about this for a moment. On the inside of you is the person of the Godhead, the Spirit of the Living God, God the Holy Spirit, there to do what? He will enable you, strengthen you, undergird you. When people attack you, you know what? What does He do? He surrounds you. He says, "The angel of the Lord," listen, "The angel of the Lord encamps around about those who fear Him". Not once in a while does He show up, He's always there. The Spirit of God has made a buffer around His children. We just need to claim it. The Spirit of God, listen, not only has He made a buffer against those who would attack us, He has also, listen, He's put a funnel into our life to channel into our life the courage, the strength, the help, the physical, the material, the spiritual needs that we have.
He, listen, He funnels every one of them there through the Holy Spirit. You are wealthy indeed, rich indeed in those things that the world has absolutely no understanding of whatsoever. You are rich in the things of God. He says in Hebrews chapter four, that wonderful passage of scripture. Thank God it's in here. How many times I've turned to it over and over and over again to say, Lord, here's what You said. Listen to what he says in the sixteenth verse, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need".
Think about this, one of the riches of the grace of God is this: you and I have access to the throne of Almighty God. Remember who's seated at the throne? Not only the Father with Jesus Christ, the righteous one, who died on the cross for our sins, seated, He says He's ever making intercession for us. Whatever we need, listen, whatever we need, He is the eternal reminder that we're the children of God and that He paid the price for us. Think about what access you have to God. If nothing else mattered, you have personal access to the throne of the Living God who loves you, who desires the best for you. And you think about how people live their lives. People live all day long, never talk to God. Three or four days of the week, they never talk to God. Busy doing this, busy doing that, busy complaining and moaning and groaning about what they don't have when they have absolute, instantaneous access to the throne of God.
And listen to what he says. He says, "So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need". No matter what our need is, the grace of God, the goodness of God is available. We just need to come. Do you know why you don't feel very wealthy? Because you don't take advantage of the wealth you have. Because either you're ignorant or you, listen, or your priorities are all messed up. Or somewhere along the way, you're believing the world's lie and you've got your life all mixed up and confused in those things. You're, listen, you are the sons and the daughters of the Living God, living on the inside of you, has the best plan for your life, ready to give you that plan, ready to help you every single moment of your life walk in that plan, live it out, and listen, and become a faithful servant of the Living God, no matter who you are.
It's a matter of claiming it by faith, listen, stepping out in who you are, walking out as who you really are, an ambassador for Christ. Would He call you to be one of His ambassadors and not help you at every moment of your life? No, He would not. We don't realize what we have when he says He, listen, He lavishly, lavishly pours it upon us. Lavishly, he says, He pours it upon us. Then he says, for example, that you and I have been glorified. What does he mean by that in Romans chapter eight and that thirtieth verse?
Here's what he means. Watch this again. From God's viewpoint, from God's viewpoint, we've already been resurrected and our whole eternity's a done deal. It's finished from... in other words, when He saves us, when He saves us, it is a completed act. It is a completed circle in the mind of God. There are no breaks in that. He says those whom He called, predestined, justified, listen, sanctified, glorified, not going to glorify us, has glorified us. Every single believer has the promise of the resurrection. Even these bodies of ours, we can put 'em in that, we can put 'em in a casket all beat up and torn up, you name it. When they come flying out one of these days, listen, transformed in the likeness of the Son of God with a body that has absolutely no limitation.
We, listen, we're not only wealthy now, we're wealthy now, we're gonna be, we're gonna be eternally wealthy for all eternity in ways that the human earthly mind cannot possibly understand. Now, I wanna tell you one last thing about how wealthy we are. And we could go on and on and on. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; I'm going to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I'm coming again to receive you, that where I am, there you're gonna be also". Do you realize how rich you are?
You may have lived in an apartment all of your life, and you may look at your life today and say, "I'll never have enough money to own my own home". Or you may live in a home, and you may think, "Well, I'll never be able to live in one like I really want". I got news for you. The real estate has already been done. Jesus Christ says, "I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again to receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also". And I want to remind you, not gonna be any shacks in heaven. Whatever, however it's going to be, it's going to be the perfection of an infinite, unconditional loving God who loved us so much He gave us His very best in giving us His Son, Jesus Christ.
You know what Paul said in Romans eight? I love what He said. He said, now, if God, listen, he says if God has already, if God has already given us His best, then he says how can He withhold anything else from us? He's given us Jesus. That's the best He had. Would He, listen, would He withhold anything else from us? Never! And the simple question is this: Do you see yourself as rich in the things of God, absolutely wealthy in the things that really count? Are you moaning and groaning about what you don't have? But you have God living on the inside of you to enable you. And you have all these riches we've talked about. And you have access to the throne and a home in heaven and a guarantee that for the rest of your life, He's gonna live inside of you and walk with you and enable you and strengthen you and keep you and protect you, and meet your needs. That is real wealth. That's what you call real riches.
Now, you have to say, maybe, I'm not a Christian. What do I have? That's a good question. Think about this, what do you have if you're not a Christian? You have no security. You may have moments of peace but not real peace. If you look at yourself honestly, you have absolutely no assurance of anything. You don't know that your heart's gonna beat the next time. And if it doesn't, you're not saved, you're in eternal trouble. You have no promise of anything. It's all, listen, it can all be ashes in a moment.
When you have the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can mark this down, you have everything that you will ever need in this life, and you have the only thing, a personal relationship with Him, that'll take you out of this life into the presence of the Living God and be happy to meet Him face to face. You say, "Well, how do I do that"? Here's what happens. You have to acknowledge that you're a sinner, and that your sins have separated you from God. And you ask Him, Father, you can put it in any way you want to. Just say:
Father, I know I've sinned against You. Priorities haven't been right, trying to amass wealth, trying to get along, eek out the best way I can. Today I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin based on what I've heard today. And I'm gonna trust that You're forgiving me because Your Son died and paid that price for me. I'm asking You to forgive me, putting my life in Your hands, and from this day on, by Your grace and goodness and love and mercy and help, I want to live for You.
The moment you do that, everything you've just heard for the last fifty minutes, yours applied to your life forever and ever and ever. That's the only way to live in this life. It is the only way to die. It's the only way to face your eternal future.
And Father, how grateful we are. You've done so much for us already, and we know that the best is yet to be for every believer. I pray that every single person who hears this message will let it sink deep into their soul and their spirit and apply it to their life. In Jesus's name, amen.