Christine Caine - Amazing Grace - Part 2
I am so grateful that you've joined us today. I know that God has a word for you. We're continuing on in our series this week, talking about the amazing grace of God. We've been looking specifically at the book Galatians. Now in this book, Paul was essentially saying that you don't have to become a Jew before you become a Christian. You don't need signs of Jewish identity like keeping the sabbath, or the food laws, or circumcision in order to become a Jesus follower. Paul was saying that believers from a gentile background were full members of God's people no matter what their ethnic or their moral background was.
Now, this was a radical concept back then. And can I just say, it's equally as radical and relevant for us today in our world that is full of division. That is full of chaos. That is full of "Othering" other people, and choosing who's in and who's out. God says, "Whosoever will can come into my family". This is good news for everyone. This grace is available to whosoever will come. There is nothing that you and I can do in our own strength to earn the grace, the love, the forgiveness, or the mercy of God. There is absolutely nothing that we have done to deserve the grace, the love, or the mercy or the forgiveness of God. And we have to remember that there is nothing that we can do to add to it. Jesus paid it all. And he invites all of us to join his family and to become a child of God.
I wonder if you've done that. I wonder if you've opened up your heart and received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. So many of us, we feel that we are not good enough for God's love or to earn the love of God, or we've messed up too much, or we've failed too much. Perhaps you've logged into this broadcast today. You don't even quite know how you are watching this kind of Aussie Greek chick, talk to you. But I want you to know that you're here in the divine timing and the divine plan of God. God has sent me here today to remind you that he loves you, that he's got a plan and he's got a purpose, and he's got a destiny for your life. To remind you that there's nothing you can do to earn his love. He loves you. He created you in his image, that you and I can do nothing to save ourselves. We're not good enough. We're not smart enough. We're not talented enough. We're not eloquent enough. We are not enough of anything.
Jesus, through his life, his death, his resurrection paid it all so that you and I can have forgiveness for our past, a brand new life today, and a hope for the future. And I hope you open up your life and your heart to receive the mercy, the grace and the forgiveness of God. There's no one else on this planet that deserves more than you. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And the Bible says the wages of sin is death but here is the good news. The free gift of God. You can't earn it. You can't pay for it. You can't be good enough for it. The free gift of God is eternal life in and through Christ Jesus.
Now, you've got to understand this gospel of grace is what Paul was defending because there were false teachers that had infiltrated the churches in Galatia, in that region. That were telling everyone, no, no, no. You need to add something else to the finished work of Jesus. And you got to understand that when Paul was saying, no, no, no Christ alone. Christ alone. The finished work of Jesus on the cross. We are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Now, this was a hard pill for judaizers to swallow. They had a lot to lose by just accepting the grace of God. And we see that in the world today, legalists have a lot to lose where you say that Jesus did it all.
I once heard someone describe it like this. I really like this analogy. They said, imagine that you had a membership to an exclusive club. And in this club, there were obviously lots of special privileges and there were lots of benefits. And so you had to pay an annual fee to be a member of this club. So what does that do? Like any club that makes sure that you've got full access to all of the privileges and that anyone who was not invited to join or could not pay the membership fee, they were excluded from that. They couldn't access all of the different facilities. They didn't access all of the resources. They weren't invited in or they couldn't afford to pay. You are just not part of this exclusive club. You have just been excluded.
Well, imagine that one day, just overnight, all the rules changed. Suddenly, there's no special hierarchy in this club. There's no special entry fee to join the club. There's no special elite privileges at all. Everything was open and accessible to everyone. Everything was open. You can use whatever, you can use the pool. You can use the tennis courts. You can go and use the dining room. You can use, whatever you want regardless of your moral background. It really doesn't matter. Regardless of your race, of your ethnicity, of your gender or your socioeconomic background, you can just come into the club and use everything. Well, let's just say, if you, the day before had been someone that had been paying to get into that club and to have all of the privileges that were afforded to you from that club and access to all of the facilities of that club, it would most likely be offensive to you. If suddenly the club was open and anybody could come in.
Well, that is how I think the judaizers felt. Justification by faith in Jesus alone was so offensive to the professional religious elite and what they wanted to do? They wanted Paul to stop spreading this good news of the gospel so that they could keep propagating their fake news and basically maintain their position, their power and their privilege. Because that's what people love, position power and privilege. And the gospel of grace, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the gospel for whosoever will. It's so easy to judge the judaizers but the truth is, if we're honest with ourselves, every single one of us can fall into this trap. All of us can put requirements on people that Jesus actually never puts on them.
Now, it could be really overt or it could be something subtle that's just on the inside of our own hearts. We could think that someone can only really be saved if they look like us, or if they vote like us, or if they worship like us, or if they abstain from the things we abstain from, or they participate in the disciplines we participate in. I mean, the list is endless. You and I have to be so careful not to add one thing to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as a prerequisite of salvation. And can I just say the temptation to do this actually increases not decreases the longer we walk with Jesus. It is amazing how many more things we add to it. Even if it's just in our heart or mind.
We could be scrolling through something, "They couldn't possibly be a believer. I mean, they worship differently to me. They vote differently to me. They go to places. I wouldn't go. They talk to people that I wouldn't talk to. They follow people I would never follow". And suddenly, the finished work of Jesus does not become the prerequisite for salvation but being like me becomes the prerequisite of salvation. Thinking what I think, believing how I believe, expressing that in the way I express it, abstaining from what I abstain from, participating in what I participate from. So where's Jesus in all of this? Jesus is the one who paid it all for you and I to have eternal salvation.
I literally remember saying to God as a teenager, "God I just can't do this. I'm never going to be good enough for you". And then I remember walking away from God and church for several years. And it's not that I didn't want God, but I truly thought that God didn't want me. Because the religious people in my life kept giving me all these rules I had to live up to and I just could not. Maybe, you know what that feels like today. It was years before someone told me that all I needed in order to be part of God's family was faith in Christ. I didn't need to jump through a whole lot of hoops. I didn't need to keep trying to clean myself up or do a bunch of good deeds to be loved or saved by the God of the universe. Jesus had already done it all for me. Jesus had taken my sin. Jesus took my shame and Jesus took my guilt upon himself on that cross. I was justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Over the years, I've heard so many definitions for justification. It's like a big word but here's the best way that I know to understand it. It's that because of Jesus, I have been made clean just as if I had never sinned. Now, can you see why this is good news? None of us can do anything to save ourselves. Even the very best person on the other side of this screen. None of us are good enough to have done everything perfect to save ourselves. Jesus did it all. Jesus paid our debt and washed away our sin. Well, some of the people in Paul's day, they were not quite as excited by this message as I am right now, sharing this with you. Because Paul writes in 2:3-5, "But not even Titus who was with me was compelled to be circumcised even though he was a Greek".
Now of course, you know I love Greeks. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ in order to enslave us. Can you believe that? They're forced teachers had infiltrated their ranks to spy on the freedom. But I love Paul's answer. This is almost my favorite part of this whole book, "But we did not give up and submit to these people for even a moment so that the truth of the gospel would be preserved for you". This is why I'm bringing this message to you today. We don't want to submit to this for even a moment because I want the truth of the gospel to go forth to you. Paul had brought Titus, the Greek, with him, and he brought him to Jerusalem. And as we know Greeks at this time, we're not circumcised. And of course, Jewish men were.
Can you imagine how controversial it was, for Paul to say that there was absolutely no difference between a circumcised Jew and a believing uncircumcised Greek? I mean, the religious people would have freaked out at this news. They knew that circumcision was an outward physical sign of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people. Now, we know this from Genesis 17:10 when it says, "This is my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you, which you are to keep. Every one of your males must be circumcised". And now, Paul turns up and he's saying, guess what? In Christ, we have a new freedom. We no longer need signs of outward Jewish identity in order to be Jesus followers. We are all in the same family whether we're circumcised or not. This was a revolutionary concept. And if we could remember this today in the 21st century, that we are all part of the family of God. Some of us look different, worship different but we are all part of the same family of God.
I love what professor N.T. Wright states in his commentary on the book of Galatians. He says, "A church united across the traditional boundaries of ethnic, class and gender distinctions were central for Paul". This is how Jesus defeated in his death the powers of darkness that divide and corrupt the human race. The very existence of the single Messianic family, cutting across all human divisions, and together celebrating God's new creation was the sign to the powers of the world. The God was God, and that all human powers and empires in the world could not touch it. I mean, what a powerful quote. This is the light that we, the church of Jesus Christ can bring into our dark divided world today.
What a witness to a divided world that is constantly arguing with one another. Everyone's on opposite sides of the aisle. Everybody's calling everybody else out. There is so much contention. There is so much arguing. What a witness to a divided world that in Christ, we all belong. Gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status. Nothing else can bring us together, but Jesus. This is good news in a divided world. We are united around the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ and Paul called those people who were trying to force the gentile converts to be circumcised. He called them false brothers. And he accused them of trying to take this new young Jesus movement back into the days of slavery in Egypt. Whenever we add any other requirements to salvation, apart from faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross, we're actually going back to the very bondage from which Jesus came to set us free.
Our human nature will always revert to grace and something else. If we're not vigilant to guard our hearts. I can go down that road. You can go down that road. We have to guard our hearts. We must always remember that our standing before God does not depend on what we have done, but it depends on what Jesus has done for us. Grace makes no distinctions among us, and this is important. It ignores every distinction we make among ourselves. Can you imagine if we understood that in our divided and chaotic world. As humans, you and I, we're prone to rate sins, don't we? On a sin scale. From one to 10. We're kind of like, "This one is like a one, really doesn't matter but that one, whoa, that's a 10". It's so weird.
And normally the sin that we rate the worst is the one that we don't have a problem with. But the one that we have a problem with, that's secret addiction. That's secret sin. That secret thing that no one else knows about. "No, we go, oh, God's okay with that. That's like just a one". But what our brother does over there, "Who? No, that one? That one is a tent. That one's unforgiven no, no, no, that one's not good". But the good news is the God's grace, it's greater than any of our sins. And it's actually greater than any of our good deeds. God justifies us through faith in Christ alone. That's why Paul was so adamant in verse five, that they did not yield in submission even for a moment to those false teachers. So that the truth of the gospel would be preserved. This saint Paul, who used to kill Christians, he knew that God's grace was greater than our sins.
And Paul, who was a part of the religious elite, he knew that no amount of our good works could ever save us. And he wasn't willing to allow people to go back into the slavery of trying to earn their way to heaven or to feel that they were too far gone to ever be accepted into the family of God. Friend, when it comes to our position before God, the Bible is so clear. Romans 3:23 says that all of sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And I have to tell you that whether it's in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic that word all simply means all. We've all broken God's commands. And we've all fallen short of what he would have us to do. Sin is like a spiritual disease that we all suffer from. Roman 6:23 tells us that the wages of sins death. The fact is that all sin leads to death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. That, my friends, is the real good news. God's grace is greater than our sins. Somebody needs to hear that today. Jesus' forgiveness is greater than your sin and greater than my sin.
When I was 21 years old, I brought my broken life to the foot of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I accepted his free gift of salvation. I'd been left in a hospital, unnamed and unwanted when I was born. I was sexually abused for many years when I was young. And I was literally filled with shame and guilt and bitterness and unforgiveness because of so much trauma in my past and my own sinful choices. I developed many patterns of destructive behavior. And as a teenager, I made so many poor relational choices. I was lost. I was confused. I was broken. I was hopeless. And do you know in that place of despair and brokenness, Jesus Christ met me right where I was. He didn't ask me to clean myself up for him. Before I reached out to him, he loved me. He forgave me and he gave me a purpose here on earth as well as an eternal future with him in heaven.
I discovered that his grace was greater than my past. His grace was greater than my brokenness. And even his grace was greater than my own sin. All I had to do was rest in the saving grace of Jesus. Jesus was the one who paid the debt for my sins. There was nothing else I could do to add to his finished work. Isn't it good news to know that we have a Savior who has canceled sin and death on the cross? On that cross, Jesus said, "It is finished". No other sacrifices required. The cross is where our forgiveness was purchased in the blood of Jesus Christ. And that freedom is available to you today.