Robert Morris — What's So Amazing About Grace?
So the title of this message is, "What's So Amazing About Grace"? And I know that was the title of a book awhile back, which was a great book. I read the book, I loved the book. But about two months ago, when the Lord put this series on my heart, it was actually on my study break time. I said, "Lord, why do you want me to teach on grace"? And I want to know that, I know the doctrine of grace, I know the theology of grace. I know how important it is for us to believe in grace, but why do you want me to teach on grace? Here's what I felt like he said. I felt like he said, "Look around". Just look around.
How many people don't know the grace of God? And don't understand the grace of God? And even how many believers? How many believers live with a sense of shame? And condemnation? And fear of failure? And how many believers are performance-oriented? And perfection-driven? And how many have a father wound? How many live discouraged, and depressed, because they could never measure up? So I want us to understand how amazing grace really is. I mean, it is so amazing. And there's such misunderstanding about it.
I have a good friend, who is a wonderful man of God. And he's a teacher in the Body of Christ, great guy. But he doesn't understand grace. And so, we got together to talk about it, and one of the things he said was, that, "Grace is like the oars on a boat". And he said, "We're in the boat, and there's a current that's pulling us toward hell, and God has provided these oars," that's his grace, and he said, "And if we keep rowing, we'll get to heaven". That's the way he thought about grace. But if we ever quit rowing, we go to hell. Okay.
Let me tell you something. That's not amazing grace, that's amazing you. And you're not that amazing. He's amazing. And so, he and I sat and talked, and he said, "Okay, Robert". He said, "I'm going to tell you what I feel about it," and he said, "You tell me if I'm wrong". And I said, "Okay, I'll probably do that". And so, he shared about grace, and he said, "I polled 100 pastors, and I asked them, 'What is grace?' "And he said, "90-something percent of 'em came back with some answer close to the typical answer, unmerited favor". Or the traditional answer, unmerited favor. He said, "Only a few said, 'In divine enablement.'" And he said, "I think we've totally missed it. I think grace is the divine enablement of God".
And he took about 20 to 30 minutes to explain it, to make sure he had covered all of his bases. And then he said, "Okay, Am I wrong"? I said, "100%". I mean, you're 100% wrong. And of course, he laughed, and I laughed, and we're still good friends. I have tremendous respect for him, even though he's wrong. I'm right, he's wrong. But he said, "Well, why is that wrong"? I said, "Because you asked your question. You asked what grace is. You didn't ask what grace does. And one of the aspects of grace is it does divinely enable us to live a new life in Christ, but it is the unmerited, undeserved, unearned kindness and favor of God. That's what it is.
So I just want to unpack these three words, just a little bit, for you. Just kind of lay a foundation for our series today, alright? Here's number one, unmerited. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: "For by grace you have been saved," by grace, "Through faith," but now, listen to this, "That not of yourselves," wasn't your rowing. It's not of yourselves. "It is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast". Okay. Hear this clearly, there will be no boasting in heaven. There's a lot of boasting on earth right now, but there will be none in heaven. You will not say, "I kept rowing. That's why I'm here". "I'm here because I kept rowing". "Now, I have some friends, they didn't keep rowing. Notice, they're not here. But I'm here, because I rowed".
The first time you see the nail prints in his hands, you'll say, "That's why I'm here". "That's why I'm here. I'm here because of Jesus". It's unmerited. We don't merit it. What's amazing is, when we first get saved, we know we don't merit it. But 20 years later, after all the good things we've done for God, somehow, we think now, "Well, yeah, I mean, I didn't back then, but I'm a little closer now". No, even your righteousness is as filthy rags. The best thing about you is still not even close to the worst thing about God.
When I think of this unmerited, I was talking to my son this week, and telling him about the series on grace. He said, "Dad, I remember grace in my life, several times growing up, but I just thought of a time". He said, "When I was," — he was probably early junior high, he said, "We got our yearbooks, and before — on our lunch time," he said, "For some reason, a group of guys, my friends, we decided it would be funny to draw mustaches and beards on the pictures of the teachers in our yearbooks". I remember saying to him, "Son, do you realize what you've done"? And it was beginning to dawn on him. I said, "You ruined this". This is something, you know, you may want to look back on this years from now, but you ruined it.
And Josh has such a tender heart, he started crying. And then I remember picking his chin up and I said to him, "Son, look at me. Tomorrow, I'll buy you a new one. I'm going to buy you a new one". He said, "Why would you do that"? I said, "Because that's what fathers do, son". I raised my children because of my own Father, with a sense of trying to model what the Father's like. Grace. They have hundreds of examples of grace, because I always, always wanted to err on the side of grace. Always. I said, "This is what fathers do". I said, "Let me tell you what fathers do. They take care of it, when you do something stupid. And son, this was stupid".
You know, the scripture says love covers the multitude of sins? Here's a statement I thought of, grace covers the multitude of stupid sins. Now, you don't have to raise your hands, but — You ever done anything stupid? You better be glad for grace. So it is unmerited. Here's the second thing, it's undeserved. We don't deserve it. We didn't deserve it then, we don't deserve it now. Even though we're teachers or leaders, or groups, or whatever we do. We don't deserve it. Romans 3:24. "Being justified freely," undeservedly, "By his grace through the redemption that's in Christ Jesus," now, this word grace, I want to unpack it a little bit from the Greek. Our English pronunciation of it is charis. I'm going to put the word up, so you can see how it's spelled. And it's fine to say that, but it's — that's really not how it's pronounced. The C in Greek is silent, and so, this word is actually pronounced ha-ris. Ha-ris, the I would be like a long E. Ha-ris.
So if I said the Greek word is haris, most of you wouldn't recognize it, because we know of charis. And as a matter of fact, there are many people that name their daughters Charis, which is great. So don't go home and start calling her Haris, you know, okay? Just Charis is great. So I want to just unpack this word, just a little bit for you. It does mean the unmerited favor of God. That's the definition of it. But I wanted you to know that this word was a cultural word before it was a scriptural word. The Holy Spirit chose to use this word, but let me tell you the cultural meaning of this word, before it was even a scriptural word.
It implied — it always — it referred to a benevolent gift from a superior to an inferior. That's always what it meant, in the culture. When someone superior in wealth or in goods saw someone who was in need or inferior, not as a person, but inferior in goods, then if the superior gave a gift to that inferior person in this area of goods, then that was called grace. That was charis, okay? But it involves — and listen to me carefully, because this might shock some of you. It actually involves three parties, three persons. You would think it just involved two. The person giving, and the person receiving. But it didn't.
And in Greek, now, these would be the closest English words to the Greek words, so I didn't come up with these. These would be what they were in the Greek language, alright? The person providing the goods was called the patron. The patron. And then, the person receiving the goods, let's call the client. Now, again, I don't think these are words that we should use when we talk about the gospel, like clients and patrons, and things like that. I'm not saying that, I'm simply saying in cultural Greek, that's what — those were the meanings, alright? So the patron, let's put it this way, maybe owned a shoe store. And he wants to provide shoes for some children in an orphanage, they would be the clients then.
Well, who's the third person? In every transaction, there was a third person. This, again, is the closest word in Greek. He was called the broker. The broker would go out into the community, and see the needs of the inferior, and bring the inferior together with the superior. But here's something else the would do, the brokers actually paid for the merchandise. If it was 20 pairs of shoes, he paid for the shoes. The patron provided it, the clients received it, but the broker paid for it. Does this sound familiar? The broker's Jesus. He brought us together with the Father, but he also paid fully for us.
Every time I think of paid in full, when I was a young man, I attended a Bible conference, and at this conference, a pastor named Dr. EV Hill spoke. And I'll never forget this testimony he shared. He said when he was young, he told his mother, "I want to be a pastor when I grow up". And his mother said, "Well, you need to go to college". And he didn't think anything about it when he was young, 'cause he didn't understand, but as he grew older, he realized, "I'm not going to be able to go to college". They were very poor. He was a minority. She was a single mother, and there weren't aids and programs at that time for minorities. We didn't understand, our nation did not understand that need at that time, or were blind to that need. And so, he just thought, I'll never be able to go to college.
And as he got older, he began to kind of prepare his mother for it. He'd say to her, "Mom, I'm still going to be a pastor, but I may not go to college". She'd say, "Son, you're going to college". He said, "Well, we can't afford college". This is what she'd say. She'd look him right in the eye, she said, "Son, God will provide". And every time he'd bring it up, she'd say, "Son, God will provide". So she sent him down on the day to register. He goes down to register. He's standing, he gets all his books, he gets all his schedule. He's standing in the registrar's line, he's about five people back, and he's thinking, I'm so embarrassed. I'm so ashamed. I should not be here. I don't have any money at all to pay for this bill, and then he was four people back, and three people back, two, and one.
And then, when that person stepped aside, he said, "I started to turn and run. But I remembered my mother saying, 'Son, God will provide.'" So he said, "I took a step up to that window, and when I did, a man stepped right up beside me. He took my hand like this, and he put money in it, and he looked at me, right in the eyes, and he said to me, 'Son, God will provide.'" And he said, the lady said, "Mr. Hill, your bill is," — and he said, "I took that money and I put it down there, and she counted it out, and it was the right amount". It was the exact amount. And this is what he said. He said, "She took my bill, and she took this stamp, and she said, 'Paid in full.' "And he said, "I remember, for the first time, thinking, that's what Jesus did". That's what Jesus did. He paid it in full.
So it is unmerited, undeserved, and here's the third word, unearned. It's unearned. Romans 11:6 says, "And if by grace, then it's no longer of works. Otherwise, grace is no longer grace. And if it's of works, it's no longer grace. Otherwise work is no longer work". Now, let me substitute for grace and work, the words free and earned, because we receive the free gift, the free gift of God is salvation, freely even justified, freely, you've received, freely — okay. Here's what he's saying. If it's free, it's not earned. Otherwise, free's not free. If it's earned, then it's not free. Otherwise, earned is not earned. It's one or the other. It's — grace is either free or it's earned, and if it's grace, it can't be earned. That's what he's saying. If it's a gift, you can't earn it. It was paid for, but it wasn't paid for by you, it was paid for by Jesus.
Let me show you a definition that just blows me away about grace. This is the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. "Grace is the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless". I — an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless. It's free. It's free. Listen, you've never received a birthday gift from someone and you say, "Oh, thank you". And they say, "That'll be $86 dollars". You know? When I said that, I actually thought of some gifts that my children have given me, that I knew I'd paid for. You ever open — your kids are all excited, "Hey, Daddy. We got you a Christmas gift". And you open it up, and first question you're thinking is, what is it? The second thing you're thinking is, how much does this cost me? Okay. So other than gifts from your children, okay, they're free. Gifts are free, okay?
I remember going to Bible college, and I believe we should study church history, but I don't believe we should argue about it. And I remember in Bible college, they were sitting around, and they were arguing about grace. Tertullian grace, which you've probably never even heard of. Augustinian grace, Pelagian grace. Of course, some of you may have heard of Calvinism, Arminianism. We still have leaders in the Body of Christ arguing today, and here I was in Bible college, just gotten saved, you heard my testimony, out of a horrible life.
They were arguing about grace, and I was thinking, if you only knew. If you only knew that I shouldn't even be here today. I shouldn't even be alive, much less in college, studying for the ministry. And they actually turned to me in a moment, they said, "So what do you think about grace"? And I was just so overwhelmed, I just said, "I was lost and now I'm found". And then, they just went right back to arguing. I think Satan has tried to make arguments about grace, so we forget that grace is that Christ died for our sins. That's grace.
So I want to show you a picture of grace. I hope you never forget this. It's about a father and son, named Rick and Dick Hoyt. Rick was born with the umbilical cord around his neck, and because the oxygen was cut off to his brain for a while, he has never been able to walk or talk. But they found out, as he was growing up, that he was extremely intelligent. Because they could watch with his eyes, and they could communicate. They taught him — Dick and Judy, his father and mother, taught him the alphabet, even though he could not talk, with just using his eyes.
And in 1973, now, you think about the technology back then, they gathered a group of engineers who invented a computer for him, where he could move a cursor with his eyes, and highlight letters, and then bump something on the computer, like a mouse, and speak words for the first time. That technology, of course, has been advanced, but that's in use now, all over the world. They invented it for this young man. When he was 15, one of his classmates was in an accident, where he was paralyzed. His classmate was paralyzed, and they were going to run a 5K race, to raise money for him, and he — through the computer, tapping letters, he said to his dad, "I want to run in that race".
And so, his dad, who was not a runner, trained so that he could push his son in a wheelchair in that race. And after the race, he said to his dad, "That's the first time in my life that I did not feel handicapped". And so, his dad continued to train. Now, they've run in 72 marathons. And 255 triathlons. Triathlon, if you don't know, is 2.4 miles of swimming, 26.2 miles of running, and 112 miles of biking. When Dick swims, Rick is being pulled by Dick in a little raft. When Dick cycles, Rick is in a seat on the front of the bicycle. And when Dick runs, Rick is in the chair, and Dick is pushing.
I'm the young man in the chair. Everything I've done is because the Father has been pushing me, and pulling me, and carrying me. That's grace. And all he's asking you to do is just get in the chair. You know, actually, he's asking you to let him put you in the chair. 'Cause you can't even get in the chair on your own.
I really do believe that it's Satan that does everything he can to keep us confused about something so amazing, and that's the grace of God. God's grace really is amazing. It really is, and it is simply put the unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor of a holy God toward us, toward people. And I'm so grateful for it. Hey, this series is going to continue next week, so I really want to encourage you, watch next week. We're going to continue, "Amazing Grace".