This message was preached by Colin D'cruz at Word of Grace Church on March 11th, 2018. To listen/download the audio please click here. To listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.
Grace- God’s amazing Grace towards us- Sometimes we can have a partial understanding of Grace and that is a misunderstood. Romans 8:29- 30 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”. In eternity past, God chose us to be a part of His family. Our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world. We are a blessed and privileged people. As a result of that calling, we were justified.
Justification is being declared righteous. There is nothing we can do to take away the penalty of our sins. But because of justification, we are as righteous as Jesus because his righteousness has been credited to us. We are not sinners but saints. In all the epistles, the believers are referred to as Saints. That is the beauty of grace. When we look at our brothers and sisters, we need to look at them as saints, because that’s what we are in God’s sight. The message of grace is so liberating.
But we see that from time to time we do sin. Then we looked at Hebrews 9:14- “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”. In the Old Testament, they sacrificed a lamb, but for us Jesus’ blood was shed. So we look at the blood of Jesus and we remember two things:
1. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Hell is not an option. The Israelited coming out of Egypt crossed the Red Sea and their adversaries were killed once and for all. So, no going back to Egypt. The same way, the gates of Hell are shut for us.
2. For those he has justified, he will also be glorify? No, he has glorified. In God’s sight it is as good as done. So, nothing we do can change that fact.
Q. So does it matter how we live today?
Yes. But why?
Many Christians live under the belief that now that we are saved, we do not need to do anything else. They think “Let me eat, drink and be merry”. Or do whatever is the basic minimum we need to do as Christians. We can live like that and miss out on what God has in store for us. They are called carnal Christians.
We think Salvation is only about going to heaven. But it is much more than a ticket to go heaven. Heaven is great but more than that, he wants to lavish his grace and blessings more than we can ask or imagine. God has a bigger plan for us. He has got in store for us a great inheritance that is available to us. The difference between inheritance and salvation is that salvation is free but you earn your inheritance.
Q. When we get to heaven, will all believers have the same glorified bodies, the same responsibilities and privileges?
That is not true. There are many things that are the same:
1. We will be free from sin
2. We will see Jesus and be like Him.
3. There will be no more death, sin and sickness
But God speaks about rewards in heaven. There are 5-6 crowns mentioned in the Bible. Heaven is not a destination, it is a starting point. In heaven we will be rewarded with an inheritance based on what we have lived on earth.
Q. So, is God pleased with me or is there something else that needs to be done?
Yes, he is pleased with us to be justified. In Christ, we are justified. But throughout scripture we see that there are things that please God and things that don’t please God.
We can displease God. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, the Bible says. On the other hand there are things we can do to please Him.
· 2 Corinthians 5: 9-10 Paul writing says, “whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him”. He wouldn’t say that if we automatically please God. There is some way we behave that pleases God and doesn’t please Him.
· Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”. The way we use our bodies we can use it to sacrifice to Jesus, not do it.
· Colossians 1:10-“so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” there are ways of living in which we are not pleasing God. There could be 2 Christians, both loved by God, going to heaven, but one is growing in the knowledge of God and producing fruit, but one is not. God is more pleased with the one who is growing in the knowledge of God and producing fruit.
· Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” When children obey, it pleases God.
· 1 Thessalonians 4:1 “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.”
· 1 Timothy 5:4 “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” when we care for parents, it is pleasing to God.
· Hebrews 11:6-“Without faith it is impossible to please God”
· John 8:29- “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him”. Jesus learned to please God.
Grace is marvellous- God accepts us, our sins are forgiven and our destiny is heaven. But we can still be living lives that are not pleasing to God. The Father will discipline a child, but won’t disown him. If God doesn’t discipline us, we are illegitimate children. He will not cut us off from himself, but we can displease him and then he will discipline us. God gives us commands and when we do that we are more pleasing to God than one who does not do it.
We are not trying to earn the Father’s love, we are not trying to prove ourselves or repay Jesus for anything. The Father loves us, but how we live determines whether we please God or displease Him.
John Piper says “Christians are confusing this understanding justification by overextending its meaning.” God is equally accepting everyone, but is not equally pleased with everyone.
Imagine a rich businessman who adopts a lot of children who were poor and on the streets. He takes them in, feeds and clothes them. But when it comes to passing on his business empire, who will he choose?
He will choose the one who is most qualified to take it and do something good with it. That is a logical thing to do. This is what God has done for us. He has given a great inheritance for us. There is some authority that God will give us in heaven. Our time here is a test. Based on how we do on earth, we will be rewarded in heaven.
Revelation 22:12 ““Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” He didn’t say to give to each one equally, but according to what we have done. He has placed us in a way that we can do something. We will be rewarded far more than what we have done. We have to make the best use of our time and resources.
Jesus said, even for giving someone a glass of cold water, we are assured rewards in heaven. Invite those who can’t invite you back. The Bible is full of rewards. When we serve God’s church, we will surely get a reward.
Hebrews 13:16 “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Q. How are you living as a Christian?
God wants to give you far more than just taking you to heaven. Apostle Paul says, in 1 Cor 15:10-11 “”. Paul worked harder, to please God. Don’t confuse Justification with pleasing to God.
Based on how we live, we will be given a glorified body. 1 Corinthians 15:41-42 “The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable”. When we go to heaven we will not be equal. There will be some things that are the same, but how we live determines the kind of resurrection bodies we will have.
Hebrews 11: 35 “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.” they were being tortured for their faith, but they didn’t mind it because they wanted to gain a better resurrection.
Matthew 5:11-12 ““Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
If you are suffering today and being persecuted for the sake of the gospel, be glad because your reward in heaven is going to be great.
How are you running? What are the changes you need to make in your life to get the grace gifts that he wants to give it to us?