GRACE UPON GRACE UPON GRACE
GRACE UPON GRACE UPON GRACE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
2 OCTOBER 1994
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Probably the most important aspect of our participation in World Communion Sunday (the first Sunday in October) is that it demonstrates and witnesses to those things that people all over the world have in common.
We have these things in common because of the grace of God.
This grace manifested itself in Jesus Christ, and continues through all those who believe in Him, no matter who they are or where they are from, for all are offered the same forgiveness of sins.
Our Communion Service is our reminder of this, that we not only participate in the eating and drinking but, more importantly, that we live the changed life that came through the grace of God.
It's as we are told in our preparation verses for this morning, Colossians 3:9-11.
9. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,
10. and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
11. --- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
What God wants us to understand, as a Church, is that we are to love one another unconditionally, in the same manner as He loves us.
If God makes no distinction, neither should we.
But this same love, this same grace, extends way beyond those who believe, and even beyond every other person, to all of creation.
That's what we sang about in our opening hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King.
With God, we have all things in common; for we understand, or I pray we understand, that His creation was given to us, equally, as stewards, and equally for our enjoyment.
It is only when we separate ourselves from God, that we begin to abuse creation (humans, animals, and the environment) for our own personal gain.
And without having the Holy Spirit as our comforter, we often get frustrated; and in our fear and anger, we abuse creation.
We do this because we see others taking advantage of it to our exclusion.
We fail to understand that it is all ours, and that we are only hurting ourselves by our actions.
And the Church, as a whole, has failed in many times and places; for from the pulpits we have "justified" wars and slavery and all sorts of cruelties and abuses.
Unfortunately, we have made salvation something we have to fight for, and not something that is equally and freely given by grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Note what we are told in Hebrews 2:1-12.
1. For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
We are told, "…we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard."
This refers to the truths of God's word, but if we hear and follow false information, we can be led astray; and that is the way we miss or neglect salvation, as we are told next.
2. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense,
3. how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,
4. God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
This is God's grace.
He shows us the truth, if we care to see and understand.
Do you remember what we are told in Romans 1:20?
20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
We are without excuse, if we fail to recognize this.
We need to recognize who we are as human beings and the responsibility we have been given by God.
We fight and fume over a piece of land or some other thing, and we fail to see that God has given us His whole creation.
5. For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.
6. But one has testified somewhere, saying,
"What is man, that Thou rememberest him?
Or the son of man, that Thou art concerned about him?
7. "Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels;
Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor,
And hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands;
8. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet."
For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
We're speaking of us.
All things have been given to us as protectors and stewards.
But we fail when we don't recognize this fact.
We fail because, without salvation, we can't imagine ourselves as joint heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17), and thus equal heirs with each other.
17. and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
We fail because we don't recognize or understand the price Jesus paid to save us from the wrath to come.
We fail because we don't recognize Jesus Christ as God.
We fail because we don't receive the grace of God.
What about us, who really believe?
9. But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
10. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
11. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
"I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren,
In the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise."
By the grace of God, we are all equal.
The time has come to learn from our past mistakes, and today is a good time to start on anything we haven't corrected.
All over the world, believers in Jesus Christ are gathering to celebrate Communion, with Him, and with each other; and we are part of this gathering.
It would be wonderful if everyone would resolve to fully live their life with unconditional love and compassion, for each other, and for all of God's creation.
It would be wonderful if everyone accepted the gift of salvation, and recognized the fact that they, individually and collectively, own all of creation.
And that in this recognition, we all would care for God's creation.
We, as Christians, have so much in common, if we would just recognize it, and then live like it, which is proof of our faith.
But if no one else resolves in their heart and mind to make a positive difference in the world, let us, at least, resolve to do so.
Let us be the shot of love felt around the world.
But don't be surprised to feel other love coming towards us, even from places we least expect.
For God's grace is everywhere and for everyone.
And He continues to pour out His grace upon grace upon grace.
Your Comments are welcome
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