This message was preached at the RegionsBeyond India Leadership conference 2016.
This message was preached byAndries who leades a church in North India
For the audio please click here
I’m here to speak about the Grace of God, the faithfulness of God and tell you my story.
Grace is one of the distinctive of Regions Beyond and New Frontiers.
Titus 3: 3- 8- “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”
Paul is reminding us of the gospel. There was a time in all of when we were foolish. It’s true even for the very nice people amongst us. Deceived... lost. ‘But when the kindness and love of God’- the grace of God is really about his love. It’s because of his mercy that we are saved.
Mercy and grace go together. CS Lewis- walked into the room where people were discussing about the different religions. Someone asked him, “How is Christianity different?” He replied, “It’s grace.”
Grace makes us different from all other people of other religions. Never lose sight of that. We believe in the new birth—the new life which he poured out on us so generously. Having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs of eternal life. Romans- grace of God brought us to a place of faith. This is good doctrine.
1 Corinthians 1: 4- about the divisions that exist in the church. He speaks to a curch with a lot of problems. Yet he starts this way. If you have Jesus, you have grace. He was thanking God for the grace given him in Jesus. Grace is about the riches of God. In verse 7 he talks about the hope of eternal life.
At the heart of this idea of grace is the idea of gift. John 3:16- when you love, you give. Grace is God’s free gift. He says you don’t lack any spiritual gift. A gift is not a badge you get for becoming mature in the God. A new born Christian can operate in all of the gifts because they really are gifts.
v.8- he’s saying that you began by the grace of God and the grace of God will take you till the end. That is how we begin and that’s how we go on. Grace will never end.
v.9- God, grace begins with God. He initiates it. God is faithful.
Grace is not a doctrine that stands on its own. It sets us free from works, striving, etc. but the grace of God takes us somewhere. Where? Into fellowship with his son. Grace takes us to Jesus.
It’s a foretaste of heaven.
1 Cor 1:26- 27 God has chosen us. It’s not about us, but him. He chooses the weak because in our weakness, he is displayed strong. Free us from pride, deliver us from jealousy and competition. Your grace is enough.
Q. Why are you a Christian? Because of him, to hold of you and put you in him. We have no part to play in bringing us to life. We are in Christ Jesus because he initiated it.
Jesus is our wisdom. Jesus is all my righteousness, all my redemption. Outside of Jesus, I have no righteousness at all. He is all our righteousness. I stand in him, and I worship him.
God has no plan to take us out. Gal 2:21- “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” But he didn’t die for nothing.
God called Abraham in Gen 12- “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Many years later- Joshua- 24:2-4 Joshua is reminding us that Abraham was from a family that worshipped other gods- Idol worshippers. But God took hold of him. Not because there was something good in Abraham. But God says, leave... I have a plan for you.
God has a plan to bring blessing to the whole world. Ultimately through Abraham came Jesus.
In 1994, I was living in Cape Town, to become the principal of a small Christian school. I was tired and felt like I needed a holiday. I was excited because I’ll get to rest at this conference- in a nice hotel. Around 3 in the morning, listening to a CD, I started having an encounter with God. He was sending me. I told my wife. And she had an encounter too- commissioning and sending. We were driving to the ground of the hotel and as we drive through there were peacocks. God was reassuring us. At the beginning of the conference they asked for people who were being called to relocate up to the front.
I saw Jesus gathering the nations of the world to himself. Saying, you get a part to play in this. That’s how the conference started. It took us two years of preparation before we could leave. There was a season where people were leaving from place to place to advance the gospel. In our local church, we were the third couple who felt they had a call to India. The other two families came to India, looked and changed their mind. So when it came to us, they were not getting behind us financially.
I did not know how we were going to get through. But God had called us. I’m not in the habit of saying no to God, when God calls you, you go. We had enough money for 3 months. A friend living in Noida offered for us to stay with him. We were praying. Went back to Cape Town. We got a student visa with which we could stay longer. My story is really that God is faithful. After 20 years, there have been some tough times, but God has been faithful. Again and again, God provided for us.
Call to Varanasi- we were in a church, quiet comfortable. While reading Michael Eaton’s book- happiness in God’s will- Nehemiah- these families did not want to go to Jerusalem. God sent us to a new area. It’s not a modern city, with all of its comforts. Jerusalem was not a comfortable city, it was an ancient city. A dangerous city- sometimes God’s will for us is not what we would like to be. Happiness is to be in the will of God- wherever that is. Even it is a place you not rather choose.
It takes some readjusting of our outlook to see that his will is perfect. God places his people in a way that will expand his kingdom. He wants to expand his kingdom. He is sending you so that his kingdom will advance. Where God places a mounting challenge upon us, like relocating a home or ministry, the result is extending his kingdom.
There was a sense of freedom and joy. We don’t have many people, but we have some wonderful people.
When he calls us, we can cliam the promise given to Abraham- that he will make us a nation and children like the stars in the sky. Abraham had only one. It was much later that we have the nation of Israel from one man. God is going to make us into a mighty nation.
Is 60:22- “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.” I believe a day is coming for all of us, to give us an inheritance of sons and daughters.
Life of David: In 2 Sam 7: 1 Samuel anointed David and as soon as that happened he was in trouble. That s the sign that you are full of the Holy Spirit. David went through so many hardships. He was running for his life. He went to the temple and asked for bread. He was starving. They were persecuted by Saul. I think some of us have gone through hardships. We are going through hardship. David went through worse and eventually the days of hardship were over.
Q. What was in his heart?
To honour God, to build him a temple. He was flawed but he was a lover of God. I think God looked at David and saw this heart.
In 2 Sam 6- 8 God says, I took you from following those sheep, and made you a leader of my people. And he was with him wherever he went. That’s the grace of God.
v.9- 11 God’s grace gives us rest.
v.11- the punchline. God spoke to me from this passage. That he will give us the church. He wants to do something for us- to gather people to you, to build the church. The last 5 years have been the happiest years in my life. It is what God does for us. It is astonishing!
v.12the scale of it is astonishing. He says I will not reject Solomon the way I rejected Saul.
God may discipline us, but he will never remove his love from us. Once a son or daughter, always a son or daughter. We are secure in the grace of God. Grace is about what I do, not what you do.
And it may not be what we do but what our sons and daughters do. God’s kingdom endures forever. In Luke he says, fear not, it is the father’s good pleasure to give you to the kingdom. Daniel 7 says that saints will inherit the kingdom forever.
David’s speaks of himself as being God’s servant. He knew it wasn’t about him but about his house and his glory. When we understand the grace of God we just worship him.
Eph 3: 7- 8 Paul- it’s by God’s grace that he calls us to leadership and to serving in the church of God. It is a privilege. We are the foolish and the weak, but the grace of God was given to us to get the unsearchable riches of God.