Grace that Changes You

February 11, 2024 Preacher: Michael Clary Series: Second Peter

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1–2

 It is great seeing all of you here today. I am Michael and I am the lead pastor here and we are starting a new series, which is the sequel to the series we just finished, which is second Peter.

And the, this, this book continues a lot of the same things that began in first Peter, but we'll, we'll have a little bit different emphases this time around. And we'll focus a lot on the grace of God and how that. Grace changes you. And the idea here, big idea, is that grace is a gift of God, and it saves us, it changes us, and it makes us more like Jesus over the course of our lives and, and forever.

We will be transformed from one degree of glory to another. And this idea of grace changing us continually throughout our lives goes against a very common and popular myth that exists in the Christian world. And I call it easy believism. But it is, some may call it antinomianism or there's, there are different labels that it could go by, but I call it easy believism.

And the idea there is that grace is for saving us. But not much else. It's like, it kind of stops there. You know, God's grace gives you salvation and saves you from hell, but anything else beyond that is kind of a bonus. So, it's, it's like an optional growth and transformation of the Christian life is, it's kind of an optional accessory.

It's like, it's there if you want it, you can tack it on, but it's not really an essential part of the Christian life. So. Think of it like salvation is the base model, you know, that's what everybody gets, and God's grace pays for that. And every Christian will receive salvation with the standard features, you know, eternal life and you know, a lot of those blessings and base model Christianity is like, you know, your Basic fire insurance from hell saves you from eternal damnation.

But you also get on star, which is you can use that in case of an emergency, and you can call out you know, to, to God who, you know, lives amongst the stars and he will come and give you a hand. That's base model Christianity. And then the luxury model is for those that want to. You know, you want some leather interior, premium sound, a few add on features, which would include things like maturing in your faith having a deeper, richer understanding of God's word, a vibrant prayer life serving other people, being transformed and really having Jesus Christ formed within you.

And so, the easy believe is a mindset is like, well, you know, that's great for those that want to take the luxury model, but for most of us, we'll just take the standard package. You know, it's kind of it's simple It's easy. We'll just take that and go on with a life that is hardly different from anybody else around me Now, if you want the luxury model, you'd have to pay it for it yourself.

So, God's grace will get you the standard model, but he may give you a loan, you know, to help you pay for the extra features, but really, it's up to you to, to get all the extra things. Now, some people might even say, or at least act and live as though maturing in Christ or striving too much. to obey God can actually be dangerous.

It's like, you don't want to do that because that might tempt you to believe in salvation by works. And we don't want to, we don't want any part of that. And so, and I've seen this play out to where there are people that think that the ones who really understand grace, the real grace minded people are the ones who don't give a whole lot of credence to personal holiness.

In fact, they might even flaunt their worldliness. As a demonstration of God's grace. It's like, let me show you how much I understand God's grace. And then they will, you know, say or do worldly things as though that is how God's grace is manifest in their life. And then they're, the ones that care the most about holiness or obedience, they're, they're kind of legalistic.

You know, we don't really care about them too much. They're the self-righteous types, the Pharisee types. We don't, we don't, we're not into that sort of thing. We're grace people. Grace people. We just, we're just, we're just free and, and, you know, we don't, we don't concern ourselves too much about a lot of that legalistic holiness stuff.

And so, some of you, you may have encountered this, you may see this in just standard Christianity with, with people that you know, and maybe this is somewhat your mindset. But what does that produce? It produces mediocrity. It produces apathetic, lukewarm Christianity, and acts as though that's really what God wants.

That's, that's the ones who really get grace. The ones who really get grace are the most mediocre types of people. God's grace is powerful enough to save them, but you need to look elsewhere for transformation. That's not a grace thing. Grace is just for salvation. Now they won't, they won't say it outright.

Nobody will say, hey, mediocrity, that's the goal. That's what we're aiming for. But that really is the result. So, mediocrity becomes a subconscious expectation. It's seen as the most authentic form of Christianity. But, you know, pretty much what, what is produced in the life is salvation and then a few other things like, well, I'll, you know, I read my Bible and I'll, you know, pray some and I'll go to church, you know, and, you know, maybe not much else trying to try not to get into too many bad things, but otherwise the life is indistinguishable from, from the world.

And then only a handful of those elite special forces type of people will really press in and grow and become a mature Christian. This isn't new. So, this, this, it's a modern phenomenon. We see it. I mean, it's everywhere. It's a very common thing, the way that a lot of people in the church world approach their Christian life.

But it's not new. In fact, back in the 19th century, Charles Spurgeon was involved in what was probably the greatest trial of his ministry, and it's called the downgrade controversy. And the downgrade controversy was he was worried about pastors in his day slowly drifting away from orthodoxy. And as they drifted away from some of the key teachings of the Christian faith, then their flocks would drift with them.

And with that would be, would drift their Christian practice. So he was, you know, committed to the fact that that in the scripture, we see God's grace being this driving force, this power of God at work in us to change us and make us more like Jesus. But then what he saw around him was this downgrade where.

where people were just sort of lowering and lowering the standards to where anything goes kind of Christianity. And he was like, no, we, we need to oppose this. We need, we want to stand against this. And of course, we know his name because of what he did, because he stood strong and firm and he, his, his commitment is, continues to edify Christians to this day and the names of those around him.

You have to look up a history book. to know who they are. It's like the faith of Charles Spurgeon that refused to downgrade is the faith that is remembered and that continues to bless people by his writings. But here's a quote, and I think this, when I read this quote, I was like, that is very prescient because it can apply in our day too.

So, here's just a short little quote. He says, I am quite willing to be eaten by dogs for the next 50 years, but the more distant future shall vindicate me. So, what he was saying is like, you know, in my day right now people think I'm crazy. People think you're talking like a madman. What's the matter with you Spurgeon?

Why don't you be more of a grace guy? Why don't you just let it go? And he's like, these people can eat my body like dogs, but 50 years from now, whenever the effect of their teaching and their lives is manifest, I will be vindicated. And he has been vindicated. And I think those of us now who are trying to press the same idea that the Christian life is about letting God's grace transform every part of your life.

It's in our mission statement. Not just get saved. It's transform. We exist to help people know, love, and obey Jesus, his Lord over all of life. The aim of Christ the King Church is to produce mature Christian disciples. Not because that's our unique niche, but because that is, or some people say niche. I don't know what's the correct pronunciation.

I mean, when people say niche, I feel like it's a little pretentious, but nevertheless. I'm from West Virginia. We call it niche in my, where I'm from. So, it's, it's not some unique niche of Christianity where we're the mature people. That's, that's, that's kind of our unique brand, but you know, anything else is fine.

It's like, no, this, this is Christianity. Christianity is meant to produce mature disciples. And so, I think those of us now, it's like, people think it's like, well, you're being legalistic. You're kind of pharisaical because you want to strive for holiness and obedience and, and, you know, being, being the sort of Christian that is transformed by grace.

It's like, no, that people may call us crazy now. But 50 years from now, those of us who are really pressing for this and really wanting to live this out will be vindicated. 50 years from now, there will be vindication. As you see the two trajectories play out, the trajectory that this church is on will be vindicated.

And, of course, we have organized and structured around it. That's why we, you know, we talk about being a multi-generational oak tree church. J. Williams mentioned this in our family meeting last week about our new bylaws. He said, I want these bylaws will, will help preserve this church to be the sort of church that his children and grandchildren can attend.

And that's my prayer. So, these things play out over time because they are trajectories. So, God saves us by grace, yes. And then the same grace that saves us also transforms us. It changes us over time, and we're sustained by it throughout our entire lives until Jesus takes us home, and then His grace will continue to bless us and blow our minds for all eternity.

That's where we're headed. Let's dig in. 2 Peter, chapter 1. I'd planned on covering four verses today, but we're only going to get to two. So, we'll get the first two verses, 2 Peter 1:1-2. Let's listen to God's word. Simon Peter, a servant, and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, may grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God.

And of Jesus, our Lord, this is God's word. So, there's a marble statue that I googled it. So, I would say, I don't know where it is. But it's out there somewhere and I've seen a picture. It's created by a guy named Giovanni Strazza. And it's called the Veiled Virgin. So, I have a picture of it here, I'll show you.

And this is a statue depicting the Virgin Mary. Supposedly, we don't know what she looks like, but supposedly this is her. Now you can imagine what it would take to create a work of art such as this. And you would have to begin at the beginning with a vision of what you are creating. You don't just start shaping a little bit and then it's like, you know.

Kind of looks like a woman. Well, let's see. And then you just work so you know He knew from the beginning the vision was in his mind of what the end goal was that he was creating this mental picture But you do start with a single block of marble the which is what this is created from It was white marble and he chiseled away and of course, it was a work of extreme precision to have created this thing and The, it would have taken patience over a very long period of time to get this exact effect.

And the effect is this, where the stone, this is white marble, but it looks like transparent, right? I've got a zoomed in thing here. It's like it, the stone looks as though you really are looking through a veil. So, it looks transparent. And that, it's, the, the, the genius of the artistry is, is incredible. So, this was finished around the 1850s, but they don't know when exactly he began the work, but it is considered his masterpiece.

And so, we don't know how many years it took him to complete it. Now, Phil was just a statue of a face. There's lots of those that are beautiful works of art, and we would, we would say that's, that's a beautiful work of art. But the fact that he was able to construct a face that looks like you're looking through a thin veil, but do that out of stone, that is, that is a work of genius that few people that have ever lived could accomplish.

It elevates the work to a masterpiece. But it all began with a singular vision. The artist knew, what do I want to create? And he had an idea of what he wanted to create. And he mustered all of his skill and patience and dedication to get it done. And so, this is what we have. It's a work of pure genius.

And the glory of the statue is, I mean, it's a beautiful statue, but who gets the glory for, for the statue? It's the artist, right? The artist is glorified. We say the statue is beautiful. Who is the genius that made it? That's what you see when you see an amazing work of art. Who is the genius? The, the, the genius that is credited for creating the work is the one who gets the glory for the work.

That's a metaphor for God's grace. God is the master artist. He is the one that is creating something. He is the genius behind the work that he is creating, and he has a singular vision. That he is driving at to create the work of art and the art that he is creating. That's us Christians you and I are the art that he's creating and there is a purpose in what he's creating and he's using all of his power his great power to accomplish that work and in the end, his great power and his great might and his great wisdom, his skill, his righteousness will all be displayed through the art that he creates.

So, the art is some, is some manifestation. It is a picture of the artist. It reflects something of the skill and the wisdom and the love and care of the artist.

And so, in our case, God will receive the glory as the artist who crafted in us his masterpiece, his great work of art. He's the only one who could have accomplished it. There is no rival. He has no equal. There is none who, who might have done it, but just fell a little short. God is the only one who could have possibly done such a thing.

And this thing is so spectacular that when the end comes and the, the glory of God is fully revealed, and Jesus Christ returns. The whole created order, every being, everything that moves, anything that has life in it, anything that has any capability of rational thought will stand amazed and will marvel and wonder that God could have done something so incredibly spectacular as what he did in us.

That's what he's doing. Everybody will be amazed, and they will fall down in wonder and worship him who did such an incredible thing. So, God is creating a masterpiece and billions of masterpieces in every human being that places faith in Jesus Christ. The masterpiece is you. The masterpiece is me. The masterpiece is us as a collective body, as the bride of Christ.

And yet, even though we are the masterpiece, it's not about you. It's about the artist who created it. It's about, he gets the glory. It is about him who, who made this happen in you. So, Strazza's masterpiece is beautiful, but the glory of creating it belongs to the artist who created it. It does not belong to the sculpture.

The sculpture is something that you see is incredible. It's beautiful. It's a work of art. But it stirs the viewer's heart to give glory to the one who created it. In the same way, you are the sculpture. You are the artwork. And in Christ, you are beautiful. But the artist gets the glory. And of course, we are so much more than dead blocks of marble.

We're not just rock that some human created in God's image, but it's far lower than the actual creator. We're not just being chiseled on. In fact, in first Peter, he calls us living stones. We're stones, but we're living stones. We are made alive. We're living works of art and God allows us to share in his joy that he, that he has, that his delight in creating this incredible thing.

And as he delights in refining us and shaping us and challenging us and growing us. So, it's not like we're just dead and lifeless and he's chiseling away. He is calling forth life and change from within He is birthing within us causing life and godliness and holiness and maturity to sprout out of our souls Like plants coming up out of a ground the point in all of this is that all of these things is a work of grace Now, yes, you may apply effort because you submit to the one who is doing it in you, but the work itself is a work of grace.

And we must say that because all the glory must go to the artist. If we say this is self-generated maturity, well then, we are taking credit. We are stealing glory from the artist, and we cannot do that. Everything God does in our lives is by grace and his grace is always aimed at his glory.

So, let's look at our text here. Verse 1, Simon Peter, so this is one of the twelve, one of Jesus twelve disciples whom he also designated as apostles. He's an apostle of Jesus Christ. And then he's writing to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours. By the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, he's talking about faith here. What, what does he mean by this? What is faith? Well, Hebrews 11:1 defines faith in this way. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. So, faith is an assurance of something. Faith is a conviction of something. But that assurance and that conviction is in something that you don't see it, but you're certain that it's there, and so it is the object of your hope.

Your hope is in that thing. And so, faith is the conviction of something true that we can't see. It is, it isn't believing something irrational, but it is believing something invisible, but it is perfectly rational. We believe it because it is, it is the true substance of the universe. It is God himself who created, the fact that we can't see him does not, does not negate his existence.

It is by his own will that he chooses not to be, make himself visible to us in his essence. He makes himself visible to us in the things that he has created. But God himself is not something that we can just casually look upon. So, saving faith then always has an object. Our faith is not faith in faith, you know, it's like some people have this idea, it's like I just got to have some faith, you know, just, you know, you got to believe in something, just have a little faith and believe in something.

That's, that, that is not what faith is, that is more of a pop psychology, secular version of faith. Whenever Christians talk about faith, there's always a very tangible specific object. So, saving faith has a specific content, it's not just believing in God, but it is believing God. God, right? So, believing in God is that I believe that there is a God out there somewhere that he exists and probably had something to do with all this stuff we see.

That's believing in God. That makes you one step better than an atheist, which is a deist. And that doesn't save you from anything. But so, it's not just believing in God, but it is believing God. It is God has spoken, God is real, God has things that he has revealed, and I believe God, and I believe the things that he has said.

So, I believe God the person, and I believe the promises that he has spoken. So, faith always has an object. It is not believing it exists, but it is believing the God who spoke, and the promises that he spoke. And so, we are made right with God by faith. So, we, we have a faith. That is, we are made right with God, we are saved by grace through faith.

Now, I want you to notice something here. It says that you have obtained a faith. What does that mean? It's a strange word because it's not an accomplishment, is it? Faith is not something that you mustered. Not mustered like the condiment, but mustered as in you mustered it up. You know, it's like faith is not something that you can muster on your own ability.

Faith is something that you obtain. You receive it. It comes to you. And this is reflected in other translations. So, the English Standard Version I'm using here, King James Version Lexham English Bible, others, they use the word obtained here. The Net Bible NET, uses the word granted. And the New American Standard, the NIV, and the Christian Standard Bible uses the word received.

So, faith is something received. It's something obtained. It is something granted to you. Like a grant as a gift that you would receive from some entity. Faith is granted to you. So, so faith is something that comes to us. It's not something that you conjure up, but it is something that is given to you. So, it's not an accomplishment.

Faith itself is a gift. And, and this, this may bother some of us, but it's, but it's a fact, even the faith that we place in Christ was given to us by Christ. Jesus gave us the faith that we place in Him. Now because there's indwelling sin within humans as even after we're saved, right? And that tempts us to want to take credit for what He has done.

And to steal some of the glory that belongs to God. So, we might be tempted to think like, Jesus did the saving part, but I did the believing part. His part is saving, my part is believing. And so, between what Jesus did and what I did, you combine the two and that results in salvation. So, Jesus gets some of the glory and I get a little bit too.

And I credit myself for having the, the, the wisdom and the knowledge and, and just the insight to believe. Well, that's, that's patting yourself on the back and giving you credit. That turns faith as a gift into a work that you've done. And so, if your choice alone is the decisive factor in your salvation, then you have some grounds for boasting.

Whenever on the day, whenever Jesus is glorified and all creation marvels and it is all seen, you can be like, yeah, but I did something too. I was there, you know, he did it. He didn't work. I'm not saying he didn't. He didn't. He did most of it. But you know. But the decisive factor was me. Now nobody is so arrogant to say it in such a way, but that is, that is essentially what is being said, is that the, the, the decisive factor was me.

So, I'm the ultimate control. The flipping the switch from belief or unbelief from one to the other was mine. I flipped the switch. I made the decision. That was the decisive factor. And if that's how we think of it, then faith becomes a work. It is, it is the first of our good works and it is the one that, that we did on our own.

And God's grace then is a response to the faith that we began, right? So, God presented the opportunity and then we responded to that opportunity by faith and God said, okay, I see that faith and now I'll take it. I'll take you from there and we'll, we'll keep growing. So, it'd be kind of like the block of marble telling the artist.

Before you begin, I just, I need to give my consent here. You're not going to start chiseling and hammering away on me until I, I yield to it. And then, then once I consent to it, then you may begin. No, we would say, of course not. That's, it's a block of marble. It's dead. It can, it can make no decision. It has no volitional power.

And I would say, yes, the Bible actually teaches that you were dead in your sin. You have no volitional power to, to choose to love and serve and glorify and place faith in God. unless God first does something to give you that ability. And so that is the work of God. His grace begins its work in you, even prior to the faith that you place in Him.

So, your, even your belief, now I'm not saying it was not a real choice. We do make real choices, but the real choices that we make are enabled and given to us as a gift of grace so that all the glory goes to God. Now, we have a part in it. God delights to involve us in it. We receive it. We participate in it.

We enjoy it. We experience it. But the glory belongs to God as the one who created, who gave us the faith that we placed in him. So, grace is not God's response to our faith, rather grace produces faith in us. Grace produces the salvation we receive, and grace produces the faith by which we receive it.

Because God will always get the glory, not man. And so, it's, it's offensive to our pride, isn't it? That's, that's why I mean this, this doctrine of god's, God's grace producing this faith within us, it, it's, it's hard to take because I think one, there's the, there's the mental part, which is like, I didn't experience it that way.

It's like, as far as I could tell, I made the choice. It's like we have from our human perspective, that is, that is how we experience it, but. But the Bible teaches like, well, the, your experience, there is a perspective and the experience that you had was something that God produced within you. And since you didn't see that directly, it's, there's a resistance to it.

But I think there's a deeper resistance to it and that's because it offends our pride. We want to think that we did it. Now we can give God all kinds of glory for all kinds of things. But we, we just, there's, the, the pride in our hearts resists the idea that God just did all of this. And then we try to philosophize it and say, well, does that turn us into robots?

Does that just make all fatalism? You know, it's like, no, it doesn't. Because God in his infinite wisdom is able to create a world to where our free decisions are compatible with his sovereign decree. But I think really there's, it offends our pride and so we resist it. Now I'm not here to try to convince you of a specific doctrine.

I'm here to convince you of a specific posture. And the posture is God gets the glory. This is about God, this is about His honor, about His glory, and those who really, who believe this doctrine, I'm convinced, those who believe it, are more positioned, not only because I think the scripture teaches it and it's true, but they're better positioned to have a humble posture towards the Lord, such that God will receive maximal glory from your life.

So, let's look at some of the other specifics here. And so, faith is believing God, you believe God, and you believe his promises, then what are the promises that you believe? Or what are you believing God for? And the answer is, you know, in a thumbnail sketch, God will save us from our sin, or God will save us despite our sin.

We believe God will do it, and we believe God did it. So, our faith then is in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. So, the faith here is, is that we're sinful, right? We're, we're fallen, wicked, rebellious, sinful people. God is righteous and perfect. And he saved us despite our sin. And despite the fact that he is perfect and righteous.

So, let's, let's look at a couple things here. Righteousness, that refers to God's character, right? So, God is holy, he's perfect. He is utterly beyond anything we can conceive. He is, he is transcendent, high, lofty. There are not superlatives that can even approach remotely anything resembling who God truly is.

He is above us, beyond us. He is the creator of all things. And we are sinful and rebellious. The testimony of scripture is consistent. We deserve his wrath. And so, the raw materials that the artist, the divine artist is working with is rebellious, wicked enemies, sinners that are hardened and in treacherous treason against God.

God is righteous. We're sinful. And we believe our God and savior, Jesus Christ. So that's the who. The who is Jesus Christ. So, this is, just incidentally, this is one of the clearest places in the New Testament that affirms the divinity of Christ. So, we have attained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

God and Savior Jesus Christ. So, who is Jesus Christ? Well, he's our God and Savior. Who is our God and Savior? Jesus Christ. So, this is like, a lot of people want to complain and say, well, I don't, Bible, you don't see the Trinity taught. Well, the word isn't there, but the concept is there. Everywhere. But here's one, here's a very clear place where Jesus Christ is called a God and Savior.

But He is a Savior also. So, the, the Savior part then is, that is Jesus's particular role within the Trinity, the Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus Christ is the one who acts as the Savior. He was sent to earth to die in our place and to save us from our sin. So, Jesus Christ is God. Christ alone is righteous.

Christ alone is God who became a man. Christ alone is the Savior. All for our sake and all for His glory. And so, he is the object of our faith. Christ and his promise, and so we are saved by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let me just hit this again. Faith is the means of our salvation.

No one can save themselves because no one is good enough. Two, Christ and his promises are the object of that faith. So, what do you believe? Do you have faith in faith? Do you just believe things? You just believe in God? No. Our faith is not just a belief in God, some vague, generic God, but God specific content.

The content is God, but the God that I'm talking about when I say I believe in God is Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, who is the Savior of the world. That is who I'm talking about. Because He alone is qualified, because He is righteous, and because He is man. And He died in our place and rose again.

And the result of that is salvation. Salvation is the result of our faith. God rescues us from our sin, and he gives us an eternal inheritance. All of this is the work that God did. It is all by His grace. Where's the grace part? Well, it's right here, verse 2. Grace is underneath it all. It is the thing that, that God was acting upon His own character to save us.

So, grace is where it all begins. Grace has different definitions, different way of defining it. A good one is unmerited favor. That's a good definition of grace. Another good definition is covenant love. It is love aimed towards a particular people that he is in a relationship with. That's grace. So, God is the artist, right, and he is creating his masterpiece and everything he does to make it beautiful is a gift of grace.

Salvation is by grace because salvation is a gift, but grace doesn't stop at salvation and then you're kind of on your own from there. Grace continues. Grace, grace is the work that started it and grace is the work that continues it and sees it onto completion. So, the artist doesn't stop at choosing a block of marble.

It says, well, I've chosen you block of marble. So now you are, you're my block of marble. You belong to me, but everything else you do from here is up, is up to you. You know, you take it from here. Nothing would happen because the marble cannot do anything on its own. It needs an artist to act upon it.

Because the artist has something he is aiming at, something he loves, something that he wants to display about himself through that block of marble. And so, God does that, just as the artist does that. The, choosing a block of marble is the beginning, but everything he does to transform it is an act of grace.

And the grace is a function of God's own character. It is his favor that he just bestows upon his people. It says, I, I love you. And I want to see something glorious happen within you. That's the, to, to fulfill the purpose for which I created humans to begin with. It's all by grace. That is all a gift, and we don't deserve it.

We didn't earn it. He did it all for us. And so, we see grace and peace be multiplied to you. So, grace is the grace of God that saved us, but then the grace, peace is derivative of grace. Because of what God did in His saving grace, peace is what we experience as a result. Remember whenever Jesus, His resurrection appearances, He appeared before the disciples and He just simply said, Peace be with you.

We now have peace with God. So, Christians know this, like, because of grace, you experience peace. So that's a position in your relationship with God. You are at peace with God. God is not at war with you. You are not an enemy of God any longer. Ceasefire has occurred because the fire was aimed at Jesus Christ, who was punished and died for our sake, but raised again in the power of God, such that by our faith in him and the promise of what he was doing in that act.

Then we are made right with God. And the result of that is you are at peace with God. Not just a positional peace, but peace that can be multiplied and grace that can be multiplied. It can grow. It can increase. So, if grace is unmerited favor or, or, or covenant love, then all of these things are multiplying in our lives now.

And that's what the rest of the book of second Peter is about. It is, it is describing how grace and peace multiplies. But the foundational level is that God is the driver here. God is the artist. Every time you repent of a sin, every time you, you apologize to someone you've hurt because you've wounded them, every time you, you do something incredibly difficult as an act of faith and obedience to God, all of that is, is enabled by God's grace at work in you.

And all of those things, like, you did it, you chose to do it, and you will be rewarded in eternity for doing so. But know that behind those choices, even still, is God's sovereign work, moving you along such that you're acted upon, and you enjoy it, you experience it, you benefit from it, you're rewarded for it, but God ultimately gets all the glory.

There is not an ounce of glory for, that is directed for us in the sense we are glorified but our glorification is that you're, we're glorified because of how great we are. No, we are glorified in the son who is the one who accomplished it all. When we put it all together, I want to read you three quick scripture references and then just three summary points to, to, to just conclude where we've been.

Three scriptures that I think can highlight what we're talking about here. First one is 7. We'll start here. What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if though you did not receive it?

He asks the rhetorical question, and the presumed answer is nothing. What do you have that you didn't receive? Nothing. There's nothing that I have, nothing that I, and that includes your skill, your aptitude, your talent, your wisdom, all of those things. Anything is true about you is true because that God produced it in you.

Any good thing about you is, is came from God. And so, if that's true, then why would we ever boast is that we didn't receive it? He's saying that's an absurdity. Anything good about you? If you're great at loving your husband, if you're a great mother, if you're a great worker, if you're incredibly talented, if you can, if you're a virtuoso at the guitar, whatever it is that is good about you, why would you boast as though it's self-generated?

You didn't choose to give yourself that. God gave it to you. You might've developed. The talent, you might've nurtured it, but even then, God gave you the aptitudes to want to do that, and you did it as an act of faith. So, from your perspective, you're doing it as an act of faith. You're trusting God and choosing to obey, and God rewards that.

Those are real choices. But those choices are produced by God acting upon you to produce a certain result because he's got a glorious sculpture, a glorious masterpiece that he's making. Second scripture, similar theme. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. Coming down from the father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

So, God is eternal, He doesn't change. He's the father of lights and He's just showering you with good gifts. Every good gift, every perfect gift. He's crediting God with all good things that exist. They all trace their origin back to God. There's no good kind of floating about randomly in the universe independent of God.

It all comes from God. That doesn't mean sin comes from God because sin is a deviation from the good. But all the good is, is purely of God. Last one, Ephesians 2:8-10. For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this, what, what's this? Well, that's being saved by grace through faith. All of this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.

Not as a result of works, so that you could get the credit, so that no one may boast. There will not be a single proud person, single proud Christian in God's presence taking the least bit of credit for anything. We will all be saying, thank you, God, that I'm here. Thank you for what you did in my life.

Thank you for everything that I received from you. I deserve none of it. Why am I here? I don't deserve to be here. It's all because of your goodness. Thank you. That will be the heart posture of every single Christian in eternity. And then, whoops, we are his workmanship. Some have pointed out like the Greek, there's a Greek word behind this, poema, which is related to the word poem.

It's artistry. You are his artistry. You're his craftsmanship. Created in Christ Jesus for good work. So, we're, we actually have a part in this, right? We act ourselves, we do things, but God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them so that. No one may boast that he gets all the glory.

Three quick concluding truths were created by grace. God began it all. God is the author of life. He gave us the gift of life. We're sitting here today because of grace. God gave the gift of air in the atmosphere. He gave the gift of lungs to breathe it in. He gave the gifts of eyes to see with and the gift of ears to hear with.

He gave us the gift of brains to think with. A will to choose with. Everything good originated with God. He's behind it all. So, nothing good or beautiful or pleasing that has ever showed up in your life has done so apart from the good gift, the good grace of God. Number two, we're saved by grace. Just as the marble doesn't sculpt itself, dead people can't save themselves.

Apart from Christ, we're spiritually dead. We have nothing to contribute to our salvation except the sin that made it necessary. Sin is a parasite. It has no independent existence. It exists only as a corruption, a stain, or a blight. It's an infection, and it's corrupted all of creation. It's corrupted every human such that we can't escape it on our own.

We are utterly helpless in our sins. Spiritually speaking, apart from Christ, we are as dead as the marble. The only one with the power to remake us is the one who made us in the first place. That's God alone. Number three, we are recreated by grace. Saving us by grace, that's the starting point, not the finish line.

That's merely your first experience in a long string of things that God has done by his grace and for his glory. And just as God created all things by grace, he recreates all things by grace. He renews all things by grace, including our salvation, but ultimately, he will reconcile all things in heaven and earth back to himself, making peace by the blood of the cross, Colossians tells us.

So, we have only yet begun to enjoy all the benefits of His grace purchased for us at the cross. God is the workman. God is the artist. You are the marble. You are the workmanship. The glory is not ours. If we take glory that is boasting and that is explicitly prohibited, the glory goes to God alone. So, this emphasis on grace should prevent us from ever boasting in, in ourselves in any way, for any good thing.

And always giving glory to God is the one who gave it to us, produced it in us, however it came to us. It is all by God and his grace so that he gets the glory for creating us. He gets the glory for saving us, for transforming us. And this is a wonderful, pride shattering truth that should crush our ego beneath the gracious weight of the cross so that we look up and see nothing but the tender love of God who saves us by grace and produced all of these things in us by grace.

It should crucify our self-justification, our excuse making. And that is the very heart that is the most ready for life. To be created within them for growth to happen, for maturity to develop, that is precisely the kind of heart that is most receptive to the transforming power of grace. Let's pray. Thank you, Father for your grace.

We are here by grace. We sing by grace. We worship by grace. We grow by grace. Our thoughts are by grace. And the truth that we understand is by grace, and the love in our hearts is by grace, and the obedience is by grace. So that there is not one shred of obedience or anything in our lives that we could take credit for, that we will always have our hearts oriented towards the glory of God who produced all of those things in us by grace.

Thank you, Lord, for the faith that you've given us. Lord, we don't deserve it. Left to ourselves, we would never choose it, and yet we did because you produced it in us. Thank you for that grace. And Lord, may you receive all glory in our hearts, just as one day everything in heaven and earth and under the earth will bow the knee and give all glory to God for what you've done.

And we pray all these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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