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Great Grace

Scripture: Acts 4:32-35; Text: Acts 4:33

"And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33).

I have often rejoiced in the proclamation of the gospel of God's grace. Paul described the gospel preaching as "to testify the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). Many saints through the ages have been blessed to sit under the refreshing dew of the message of grace and their hearts blessed thereby. In the Bible the message of grace is not easily ignored for there is a tremendous amount of scripture which deals with the subject. Peter said, "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they" (Acts 15:11). Paul added these words, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (Romans 11:5) and "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). While there is an abundance of such scriptures to be found in the Bible, for the present I shall let these suffice to establish the fact that people are saved by God's amazing grace; not the feeble works of the frail hands of sinful men. It is not my intention that this be just another sermon on grace, but I desire that we look at grace through the adjective - great.

We are not simply to realize that salvation is by grace, but to recognize that the reason grace can save sinners, is because of its greatness. Paul said, "More over the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). Therefore grace not only met the need, but super abounded beyond the need; being more than adequate for the task. The reason that grace super abounded is simple, it is "great" grace.

The adjective "great" is very significant when connected to God's grace. It becomes very conducive of thoughts and ideas about many things, including the subject of grace. When the word "great" is used, it generally describes something that is magnificent or very extraordinary. It is used to describe size and for an example I refer to the "Great Smokey Mountains." Great may also be used to describe things that are wonderful saying "that's great news." It is even used to describe that which is superior, prominent or renowned; therefore, we refer to people as great musicians, great artists, great business men or even great Christians.

It is an adjective that is frequently used in scripture and therefore we can read of great kings, great multitudes, great nations, great power, great people, great evil and even great salvation. In Hebrews 2:3 the writer asks an important question ..."How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" While all those things are described as great, so also is grace. Recognizing that grace can be catalogued among the other “great” subjects of the Bible, I want us to endeavor to discover the source of its greatness. In addition to grace being great by definition (as previously discussed), I shall proceed to discuss: the greatness of grace by virtue of its source, (2) the greatness of grace by virtue of its recipients and (3) the greatness of grace by virtue of its accomplishments.

(1) I think it is essential for us to first recognize that grace is great because of its source - God. The idea here is that the act is considered great because of the greatness of the One Who performs it. We often see the reverse of this idea, for when a discovery or invention is considered great, then the individual who is responsible thereby achieves greatness. An example of this is Columbus, who became great by reason of his great discovery; or Alexander Graham Bell, who by his invention of the telephone acquired greatness. Yet, there are also times when a person who has already acquired greatness, imparts a measure of greatness to all they achieve. A talented singer may bring notoriety to a song simply because he or she sings it. Even so, grace takes on greatness since it emerges from and is bestowed by a great God. In this regard grace is great.

Let us pursue this idea a little further as we examine the greatness of God and grace, from a scriptural perspective. The Bible repeatedly declares the greatness of God. Psalm 48:1 says, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness." In prayer David said to God, "For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone" (Psalm 86:10). He first declared the greatness of God's being and then called attention to His works. In another place he ascribed greatness to the works of God. David said, "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein" (Psalm 111:2). The work of grace, is certainly a work of God and is referred to as such in Titus 2:11. Paul said, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.". Grace is called "the grace of God" twenty-four times in the New Testament, even though there are times when it is called "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Revelation 22:21). A great God performed a great act, by which He took dead sinners and quickened them into divine life, thus saving them (Ephesians 2:5). This my friends, is grace and it is great! John wrote, "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). Grace by which sinners are saved, comes from the fulness of God; so because of His greatness we have received great grace.

(2) Since the greatness of grace may be viewed through the greatness of God, it may also be viewed through the recipients of it. While God is great in one regard, we are great in altogether another. God is great in His person and power, but we are great in our sins. So grace may be called great because it took great grace to save great sinners. You may not regard yourself as a great sinner, but it is an unquestionable fact that God does. Therefore, the scripture repeatedly reminds us of our sins.

If you have doubts about your condition, let us take time now to search God’s word. In the beginning man fell into sin, as Adam disobeyed God. Because Adam sinned, we were born with a depraved and sinful nature. Paul declared, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). Paul was informing us of two facts: (1) that because we descended from Adam, we bear the same sinful nature and (2) that because of our sinful nature, we often practice sin. It is impossible for sinners (mothers and fathers) to produce anything but sinful offsprings. David said of his birth, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5). Job probed this issue with a question and answer solution. He asked "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one" (Job 14:4). It is for this reason that Jesus could not be born by natural means of an earthly father and mother. If He had, He would also have been a sinner and therefore unable to save us.

Not only were we born with a sinful nature, but we have also committed sins personally and individually. Paul said, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Perhaps some think of themself as an exception to this rule. If so, then consider 1 John 1:8; "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." On the other hand if you know the truth you can confess your sinful condition, as did the "Prodigal Son." He said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son" (Luke 15:21). Those who can make such an acknowledgement clearly recognize that they are great sinners.

We are great sinners because we are double-dyed sinners, as we will now discover. We are sinners by nature and by the practice of sin. God makes us aware of this fact through the Prophet Isaiah. He said, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). The sins of our nature are like "scarlet," but add to them the sins we have committed and they become like "crimson." Not until we see our sins and view ourselves as God does, can we understand how great a sinner we really are. When we read and believe the scripture, we begin to see how exceeding sinful sin really is (Romans 7:13) and we see how wretched we really are in our sinful condition (Romans 7:24). When Paul comprehended these truths, he said, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15). He considered himself the chief or greatest of sinners; no wonder he had such a deep appreciation of grace.

Only as we understand the seriousness of sins, can we appreciate the remedy properly. If your perception of the consequences of sin is that it simply sickens, weakens or injurs man; then you will not likely realize the greatness of grace. On the other hand, if you know that you have sinned and understand that the just wages of sin is death; then you already know how truly great grace really is. I confess to you that I am a great sinner, who has been saved by great grace. I know that a great God with great love (Ephesians 2:4) gave His only begotten Son and Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). Nothing less than great grace could have met our needs and satisfied our sin debt. God's grace really is great!

(3) The third and final evidence that grace is great, lies in the fact that grace has done great things. Because grace is great, the effects of grace are also great. Everything that God did to accomplish our salvation, was a great endeavor. Many of those gracious actions are listed in Romans 8:29-30, and all of them manifest grace. God foreknew us because He chose us to be His own. For that reason election is described as a doctrine of grace. Some people think election teaches that God looked ahead to see the good in people's lives and so made His choice accordingly. But the scriptures deny that concept and declares the opposite to be true. "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" (Romans 9:11). God chose a people in spite of our sin, not because of any supposed good we might have done. Having chosen us, He predestinated us to be adopted into His family, by the works of Jesus Christ (not our works) and according to the good pleasure of His will (not ours), He made us His children (Ephesians 1:5). In my humble estimation, it took great grace for God to have achieved all this, even before He created the world.

He also sent His Son to die for our sins and sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Through Jesus we were delivered from the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23) and by the Holy Spirit we were quickened into divine life (Ephesians 2:1). Paul summed up the effects of God's grace this way, "Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us" (2 Corinthians 1:10). It certainly took great grace to deliver us from so great a death.

Even now great grace is still at work and doing great things for us. Because of abiding grace, our lives are made richer by far. Grace did not come for a saving visit and then depart, it shall ever remain with us. Grace enables us to bear afflictions and troubles (2 Corinthians 12:9); it empowers us to resist satan and temptations (James 4:6-7), and also endows us with the abilities to serve God acceptably (1 Corinthians 15:10). As we live in the kingdom of God, grace makes the difference in our lives. The greatness that we achieve in God's kingdom can be attributed to the great grace of God. Paul said, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28). Thank God for grace that does great things for us and through us.

Grace not only enables us to do great things here but shall account for the great things God will yet do for us hereafter. On the glorious morning of the resurrection, we shall be raised to life, changed into the image of Jesus and caught up with Him. In Heaven we shall dwell with God "world without end" (Ephesians 3:21). This shall be done, "That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7). Oh, how rich is His grace toward us: how great the grace of God. Not until we have ended our pilgrimage and entered our eternal home, shall we understand the full extent of the great things grace does for us.

From an airplane high in the sky, we see the great earth below; yet, there is so much of it that cannot be seen. More remains unseen than that which is seen, both of the earth and grace. Grace is so great that we cannot see it all or use it all. As fish swimming cannot use up all the water and a bird in flight cannot exhaust the air supply, nor can we possibly consume all the grace of God, it is too great. As the early apostles had great power in their witness of the resurrection of Jesus, so may we gladly give witness of His great grace in our lives. There is much that can be done for His glory and we are enabled to do it, by His great grace. Let us not be content to wait silently upon His coming, but rise up with great zeal, and live daily so that great grace may be seen in our lives.

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014