Charles Stanley - A God of Grace
If somebody approached you and said, "I don't know anything about God, but I would like to know. Would you tell me, would you explain to me about your God"? What words would you use to explain what God is like? Well, then after you did your best at that, then suppose they said, "Well, how does God feel toward me"? How would you describe how God feels toward a person? Then they said, for example, "Well then how should I feel toward God"? What would you say to that question? How should they respond, and how should they act toward God? When this conversation is all over and that person walked away, would they walk away discouraged, confused, feeling inadequate, feeling less than, feeling that there's not much real hope of their ever being able to have a relationship with this God; or would they feel confident, assured, a sense of security that somehow they'd be able to have a personal relationship with this God? How would they feel? You see, it's very important that you and I understand exactly what our relationship to him is.
Who is this God? And everybody's talking about, "God this, and God that, and God the other, and I believe in God, and I believe in this God, and I believe in that God". It's interesting when we read mail from all over the world, especially in some sections of it, where people talk about their idea of God is that they're afraid of God; that he's a God of judgment and vengeance, that if they do something wrong he could strike them dead in any moment, that every day when they wake up they wake up realizing they are waking up to an angry God whom they try to worship. If they make a mistake he could execute them, as they say, at any given moment. And so when you think about what people believe about God, no wonder some people don't want him in their life because they don't see him as a help. They see him as an obstruction. They see him as a barrier. They see him as an irritant.
And you see, if you don't understand him and all you know about him is what some people say about him, that's exactly the way you'll respond. But I want to talk about who he really is. I want to talk about what God says he is, and the whole emphasis of the New Testament. And Peter said he's the God of all grace. So I want you to turn, if you will, I want you to turn to 1 Peter. What I want you to see in this message is this. What's the truth about God? What's he really like, and how am I to approach him? How am I to relate to him? Can I have a true, genuine, intimate relationship with this God, this God of the Bible?
So listen to what Peter says beginning in verse 6. "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him," that is Satan, "firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you".
Do you see anything in that passage about harshness, about judgmental attitude, about any of the things that oftentimes people the way they view God? He's not hovering over you looking for something to condemn you for. Look at all this. He says cast all your cares upon him. He cares for you. He says, "After you've suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you". Well, when you come to the New Testament, for example, here's what you find. You find that the word grace is all through the New Testament. God's goodness and kindness and love toward us in spite of what we deserve, not because we deserve it or because we have an emeritus on our part but just because he's the God of love.
And what you discover is this. All through the New Testament the theme is grace, God's goodness and love and mercy toward his children. Do we sin against him? Yes. What's grace all about? Forgiveness, kindness, and understanding. Does that mean we can live in the old way you want to live and get back with it? No, because God disciplines his children, and sometimes discipline is very painful. You say, "Well, if he loves me and if it's a God of grace, what's this discipline business"? If God did not discipline us when we step out of line, if he did not discipline us when we sinned against him, that wouldn't be a God of grace. That's not kindness. That's not goodness. That's not love. Allowing us to get by with something that he knows will cause us to ultimately destroy a life could not possibly be an act of grace. It is an act of careless indifference, and that's not who he is. He's a God of grace.
And so all through the Scriptures, and what you'll find when you read the epistles, for example, in every single epistle that Paul wrote from Romans all the way to Titus, here's the way he begins his salutation. He will say greetings or whatever it might be in every single one of them. You can look them up in the Bible. In every single salutation, he will say something like this: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ". Why would he say that in every single epistle? Do you know how he closes every single one of them? Here's how he closes every single one of them. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you". Why? Because he's trying to get across the message of who God is. He is this awesome God of inestimable, indescribable, fathomless grace, goodness and love and mercy. That's the message he wants us to understand.
What motivates people to love God? What motivates people to serve God? What motivates people to want to live a Godly life? Somebody says, "Well, if you fear enough, you will. If you see him as a God of judgment, you will". No, you won't. You will resent him. You will look for ways to manipulate your way through life. What motivates us to love God is the love of God. What motivates us to want to serve him is his grace and goodness and love and kindness toward us. That's what motivates us. And so when you look at the Scriptures and you find Peter saying the God of all grace and you see over and over and over again the word grace, grace, grace. For example, all of Paul's theology is wrapped up in that word. He says, for example, in Ephesians 2:8 and 9, "For by grace have you been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It's the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast".
Then he says in Romans chapter 5, verse 1, 2 there he speaks of this grace wherein we stand. That is the believer stands upon the unmovable foundation of grace all the time. We live under the canopy of God's grace. We're surrounded by the wall of God's grace. We are the children of grace. "Amazing grace has sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. Once was lost, but now I'm found; blind, but now I'm seeing. It was grace that brought me thus far," and on and on and on that song goes. The grace, the goodness, the love of Almighty God reaching down in your heart and my heart. And what does he say? He says, for example, "It is the grace of God that makes us sufficient in difficult times". He says, "When I had the thorn in my side," he says, "I prayed and prayed and prayed and asked God to remove it and God didn't remove it. But what he did do, he gave me the grace". He said, "My grace is sufficient for you".
We are the children of grace. This is the age of grace. We're to live in the love and the goodness and, listen, the mercy of Almighty God. What kind of God do you serve? Because you're afraid of him? Because he's a God of anger, laws, and rules, and regulations? Or is he a God who does indeed give us principles by which we live? You see, the reason he gave the Ten Commandments was not that we could live by them and keep them and therefore be saved because not a single one of us has ever kept them all. Not a one. It doesn't make them who you are. You have never kept all the Ten Commandments. He gave them to reveal the wickedness of man's heart. He gave them to, listen, to show us how sinful we are, and therefore in the ceremonial laws of the shedding of the blood of the lamb, the sheep, the goats and all the rest, that was a symbolism of the coming of the lamb that indeed would atone for our sin. But nobody has ever kept the law.
And if you think that you're going to be saved by keeping the law of God, think about how many times you have broken it and every single one of us has broken it. And he says if you've broken one you're guilty of all. All of us have broken the law. So there's no way to be made acceptable in the eyes of God by good conduct and keeping rules and regulations. They weren't given for that reason but to expose our sinfulness so that we would come to him and in his grace be saved by his goodness and love and mercy taken care of, paid for in full at the cross. When you come, for example, to the very last book of the Bible, the book of the Revelation, last verse in the Bible, in verse 21 the last verse of the last book of the Bible, "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen".
The writings of the New Testament all through Scripture plus some verses in the Old Testament, but all through the New Testament, the message is grace, grace, grace, grace over a hundred times. Grace, grace, grace, grace. What is he doing? He wants us to understand, for example, who the Father is. He's a God of grace, goodness, love, and mercy, and kindness toward us. Now, one of the interesting things about this whole idea about the grace of God, I want you to turn to Hebrews chapter 4 for a moment. Not only does the Bible say that he's the God of all grace, but I want you to look at, for example, the throne of God. Now, the throne of God is a place of majesty and power and great beauty and awesome indescribable radiance because the throne of God is where our heavenly Father sits, rules and reigns over all the universe the Lord Jesus Christ sitting in his right hand.
Listen to what the Scripture says in Hebrews chapter 4, verse 14, a very, very encouraging passage of Scripture. "Therefore, since we have a great high priest," Jesus, "who has passed through the heavens," been resurrected back in the presence of God, "Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession". That is, listen, be strong about your confession. Do not waver in your faith and trust in him. "For we do not have a high priest who can't sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin". This is the kind of high priest. This is the kind of person who sits at the Father's right hand and intercedes in our behalf. He's one who's been tempted in all points such as we.
So listen, at the throne of God, there is someone there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who knows exactly how you feel. He knows exactly about your temptations, exactly about your fears, exactly about all the things that you and I deal with. This God is a God of grace. He sent him. Listen, God the Father sent the Lord Jesus Christ into this world to live. And what did he do? He didn't send him as an angel. He clothed him in human flesh so he would feel every single thing that man and woman feels except without sin. So he could feel it absolutely. In fact, he could feel it so much more intentionally than we could because he is absolutely holy.
And so every single temptation was stronger to him in a way. Not that it had more appeal to him, but the fact that he was holy and here is sin tempting him. He sent him to live among us, died on the cross for us, resurrected, sitting at the Father's right hand, knows exactly with all the intensity of perfection how you and I feel. This God of grace sitting upon his throne and doing what? Sitting upon this throne, ruling and reigning and doing what? Looking out for, taking care of his children and desiring that anyone and everyone and all people would come to a saving knowledge of him, have an intimate personal relationship with him. Because, you see, God knows he has provided the best for anyone and everyone who will come to him.
No matter what your circumstance, what your situation, when you come to God the Father through his Son Jesus Christ, I guarantee you, I assure you you can bet your life on it, your whole eternal destiny you can rest on it. Things will be better. Things are going to get different. You say, "Does that mean everything's going to improve all of a sudden"? No. There's no telling what kind of changes are going to take place, but they're all for good. This is the grace of God expressing his love towards you. So when you think about this whole issue of the throne of God, listen. He says, "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".
Now, this throne he's talking about here is the very throne of God, and listen to what he says it. He says let us draw near to the throne of judgment. No. Throne of condemnation? No. Throne of rules and regulations? No. Throne of grace. What's grace? Goodness, kindness, love given to us in spite of the fact that we do not deserve it because that's the nature of God. That's what he wants to do. Let us draw near to the throne of grace. Why? Because he's a God of grace, not condemnation and judgment. Does he judge the wicked? Yes. You know why? Because they absolutely refuse the best in life. They refuse to acknowledge him as God. They refuse to reverence him as God. They will not fit heaven. They refuse all the good things that God desires for them. They do not fit who we are and who he is.
Is it because God wants to do that? No. He takes no delight in the wicked. He takes no delight in judging evil men. He's a God of grace and love and mercy. He wants the best. But if he allowed the wicked and the vile to live out their lives with no correction and no judgment and no final condemnation, he would be a God of grace. But he is. And so when you look at this very idea of the throne, the very throne is called the throne of grace. Now, notice what he says happens. Here's what you can look for when you get there. He says, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may," do what? Have to fall on their face and be judged and condemned and ridiculed? No. We may receive mercy.
You know what mercy is? It's what we don't deserve. It's his goodness and love that we don't deserve. We may receive mercy and find what? Grace to help. The kindness and the goodness of God to help us in every single situation, circumstance of life. Listen to this. It has nothing to do whether you deserve it or not. It has nothing to do whether you've measured up or jumped to high vault or not. It has nothing, you can't ever measure up. It's his grace, love, goodness, mercy, understanding, and forgiveness toward us. What do you find? You find mercy. You find grace to help. That is whatever help we need. What he's simply saying is this. Listen, God will intervene in your life. He will act in your behalf when you come to him. He says grace to help in time of need. In time of need means just in the nick of time. Is God ahead of time? No. Is he late? No.
Now, most all of us have thought he was. We've all figured, "Well, God, I thought you were going to do thus and so". And when you and I come to God and we start out like this, "Well, God, I thought," what we are simply saying is, "Lord, we're implying you messed up". In other words, you didn't... and what we're really saying is, "God, you didn't follow my plan on my schedule". That's what we're really saying. Do you think that makes God angry? No. You think it upsets him? No. What do you think he does? He just hears that and moves on for the simple reason he knows that you and I are human. We're going to make mistakes, and he knows that we all have our plans and we have our schedule and then he has his. The only difference is he rules, he reigns, he's omnipotent.
Listen, we are finite human beings. He's ultimately going to get his way. So that's why he doesn't get upset. If you and I can understand him the way he is, awesome, wonderful, loving God, the only thing that grieves the heart of God is when you and I disobey him. Why does he grieve? You can't grieve somebody who doesn't love you. The fact that you and I grieve the Spirit of God, we sin against him is because he loves us. He loves us with an infinite love we can never begin to describe no matter how long we live. He says, listen to this, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we will receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need".
Listen to that. Draw near to the throne of grace. Think about this. So many people see that God is up yonder, out yonder somewhere. He's up, he's far off. We never think about the fact that he's near. Let us draw near to the throne of grace. Come close. Why? "So that," he says, "I can pour out my," what? "My kindness and goodness. Give you what you don't deserve, help you what of your need is, and I'll always do it just on time". That's the kind of God he is. And so he says draw near to the throne.
When I was working on this message, I was sitting there in my study thinking about how many times have I ever been to the throne of grace in all these years. Well, I couldn't begin to count them, but I can tell you this. I broke out just weeping and weeping and weeping. I could not stop. I began to think about how many times I've been to the throne. I've been to the throne when I hurt and always found comfort. I've been to the throne when I was lonely and always found fellowship. I've been to the throne when I had material needs and they were always met. I've been to the throne when I was very discouraged and I found confidence. I've been to the throne when I needed guidance and he always made it plain. I've been to the throne when I was weak and I needed strength and I found it.
I've been to the throne when I doubted him and I found faith. I've been to the throne when I was afraid and I found confidence and courage. I've been to the throne when I had sinned and always found forgiveness. That's who he is. When I began to think about that, I wept and wept and wept out of pure gratitude to think not one single time did he ever turn me away, never rejected me, has never condemned me, never shouted measure up but always goodness, love, mercy, discipline many, many times. You know what that was? Each time it was an activist grace. He says drawn near to the throne of God. No. Draw near to the throne of what? Grace. His love, his goodness, and mercy. And why does he use that term? Because that's the way God wants us to see him. Is he this supreme sovereign of the universe? Yes.
And how many times you've heard me say this? This supreme sovereign of the universe sits upon his throne in relationship to the world he rules and reigns. In relationship to you as an individual, what does he do? He loves and loves and loves and loves. And I would simply ask you this. How close do you come to the throne? How close do you want to get? What kind of relationship do you really want? Are you satisfied just sort of moving through life or do you want what he wants? He wants to demonstrate to you, listen to this, not what he can give you. You know that. He knows that. It isn't what he can give you that he's most interested in. He's most interested in giving you himself, drawing you into this relationship.
And you know what happens? Once you begin to taste of that relationship, things don't matter. They don't matter. Relationships are important, but that's not the most important thing. What people think is not the important thing. You know what happens uppermost in your thinking? It's not, "How can I please him"? Uppermost in your thinking is, "How can I get in nearer, nearer precious Lord? How can I understand him better? How can I feel his heart? How can I know what he's thinking? How can I sense the fullness of all that he wants to be in me and through me and for me? Not what else can I get from him but just how can I experience him"? You see, if you love someone, you're not always wanting something they have to give. You want to get on the inside of them. You want to feel what they feel and sense what they sense.
And you see, if God were not that kind of God, here's what he wouldn't have said. He wouldn't have said draw near to the throne of grace where goodness and love flows and mercy flows, where help is available and where no matter what the need is it'll always be there just in the nick of time without fail. What I'm asking you is this? How satisfied are you with what you know about him? How satisfied of you of your relationship with him? Isn't that something deep down inside you? See, here's how Satan tricks the believer. Satan tricks the believer with a sense of dissatisfaction. The dissatisfaction Satan interprets within a person's heart as you need more of this, a better relationship here, and more of that and travel here and do all these things.
Let me tell you something. I've lived long enough to go all the places I want to go, have all the things I want to have, do all the things I'd want to do, have wonderful relationships in life and I want to tell you something. You can put all them in one basket. There is nothing on the face of this earth, no relationship, no material thing, no experience, no nothing that compare with the intimate, personal, genuine, quiet, indescribable, deep, abiding, penetrating relationship with Jesus Christ and the Father when you and I submit ourselves to him and say, "Lord, whatever you want is what I want. Whatever you will is what I will, however you want it's what I want".
You know what will happen? When you say that to him, when you draw near to him, he may remove some things in your life that you think are very important and essential that you can't live without. He may add some things in your life that maybe you don't want. He will adjust your life, but here's what you'll discover. Every adjustment gives you a deeper insight into who he is, and you see oftentimes we see adversity. All kinds of adversity is a barrier in our life. You know what happens? The closer you get to the throne of grace, the more you understand that every single... listen, this adversity in your life becomes a bridge to a deeper relationship, a more intimate relationship because he teaches us things. In adversity we don't learn any other way.
Draw near to the throne of grace and you'll find all the, listen, you'll find all the forgiveness you'll ever need. Draw near to the throne of grace. You'll find, listen, all the help always on time no matter what. But he didn't say he was coming after you, he said draw near to the throne of grace, which means I have to take the initiative. I have to want to. I have to desire to. God isn't going to make you want him. He's going to create within you a desire for him. And if you allow Satan to misguide that, misdirect that, and misinterpret it, here's what you'll do. You'll go after things and relationships to get you satisfied only to find out none of that will satisfy you. There is only one experience in life that brings absolute and complete satisfaction.
Now, think about this. Every other thing in life you've got to have more of it. You can't think of anything in life that you can't have, you got to have a little bit more. If it's money you spend, you got to have some more of it. When it comes to Jesus, he's like this well, this spring springing up on the inside of us and it flows incessantly, continuously, unendingly. And as long as we're willing to drink from that well, from that spring, you know what? There's a complete satisfaction and contentment indescribable in human words.
I don't know what kind of God you have, but I've just told you about the God of the Bible, and this is the only book that you and I will stand before him that'll be there, the Word of the living God. And he says at the throne there'll be grace. At the throne right now there's grace. And if you're willing to surrender your life to Jesus Christ and trust him as your personal Savior, forgive your sins, make you a child of God and open the throne of grace where you and I can come anytime 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 60 seconds in every single minute, he's available if we desire to come. You just have to make up your mind. Do you want the very best life has to offer in a personal, intimate relationship with God? Are you willing to substitute and take the counterfeit and end up disappointed?
Father, how grateful we are for your love for us. We're overwhelmed when we think about how good and kind and gracious yet undeserving and inadequate we are. You're so willing to give it so freely. I pray the Holy Spirit sink this message so deep it can never be escaped, that haunting every single heart will be that question, don't you want more? Don't you want to know him more intimately? Are you going to be satisfied with the fluff and puff of the world or do you want to find life as the Father intended to give it in all of its fullness? And this is my prayer today, Father, in Jesus's name. Amen.