Sermon for Sunday, 08/26/2018
Part IV of Series: A Grace-Full Life (from the womb to the Tomb)
Text: Romans 8:37-39
Theme: God’s Never Ending (Glorifying) Grace
During World War II, a passenger ship set sail from Great Britain headed for port in New York City. The Captain of the ship being afraid of enemy vessels, sought the advice and guidance of the British Admiral. The Admiral calmly assured the captain that no matter what happens, he should be sure to sail his ship straight ahead. “Do not take any detours — sail the ship straight ahead — continue on-ward, heading straight towards the intended mark,” he said.
After several days of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean which was undeniably filled with submarines and enemy vessels of all kinds, the Captain spotted an enemy destroyer off his forward bow. Nervously he grasped the handset and called for assistance. The calm voice replied, “Keep on straight, do not detour, just sail the ship straight ahead. Everything will be just fine. Just keep on going – straight ahead.”
After a couple more days the ship pulled safely into the great harbor of New York City. Shortly after docking the great British battleship “Man-of-War” pulled into port behind the passenger vessel. The Captain realized that while he did not see the British Battleship, she was there, standing by ready to come to his defense should it prove necessary.
Like that passenger vessel, you and I have been surrounded by God’s gracious love from the day we set sail in this life till the day we depart this world. But God does not even abandon us after this life. In the words of Paul in our text this morning, “nothing in the whole creation, not even death can separate from the love of God.” God’s love for us is Never-Ending.
In the song, “In Christ Alone,” we will sing “From life’s first cry, till final birth, Jesus commends my destiny.” God’s All-Reaching or Prevenient Grace is made available before we are aware (Romans 5:8). This is followed by God’s All-Saving or justifying grace which redeems us from sin and give us new life when we say Yes to Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Since then, you and I have been on our faith journey under God’s Character-Shaping or God’s sanctifying grace (Ephesians 3:14-19).
Church, even though God’s Character-shaping grace is shaping and empowering us to take a step each day toward perfection, we never reach this goal in this life because we live in the presence of temptation and sin. Sometimes we slip and fall but God’s sanctifying grace picks us up and keep us going towards the goal of being like Christ. We aren’t there yet, but we keep striving toward our final state of perfection.
Paul could not have it said better in these words, “I am not saying that I have made it. But I am well on my way reaching out for Christ, who has wondrously reached out for me. Friends don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:11-14; Message Bible).
Our goal, like every disciple is to be like our Master Jesus Christ. But it cannot be fully attained in this life, but the next, and God’s gracious love at work at that stage is God’s Never-Ending or Glorifying gracious love. It is the grace that completes our journey.
In the words of John Murry, “Glorification is the final phase of the application of redemption. It is that which brings to completion the process which begins in effectual calling. Indeed, it is the completion of the whole process of redemption.”
Each day, you and I are empowered to love, and to serve as Christ did. We are to be his hands, feet, and voice until we lay down this life, and begins the next, under God’s Never-Ending Love in our glorified state. This brings our journey to completion when we shall be like Christ.
In 1 John 3:2, we read: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
This is our final state of salvation. Not only will we see Christ, but the Bible says we shall be like him. There is nothing that is greater than this.
In Jude (24) we read, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy
This is the scope of God’s grace for us. From birth, to the end of this life, and beyond. God’s grace takes us through and presents us faultless before God’s throne. This gives us hope and security. Among many other things, it does two things to us:
1. It motivates us to live well. That is to love God and serve Him with all of what we are; to be the hands, and feet and voice of Christ and to make a difference in our community and beyond as Christ did.
For Paul says in 1 Cor. 2: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of anyone the things which God has in store for those who love Him.
2. The second thing it does for us is that it prepares us to die well.
In his wonderful book, Dying Well, Ira Byock, MD, He writes, “Over the years I have learned that the actual range of human experience of dying is broad. I have seen tremendous suffering, but I have also witnessed people who in their dying experienced a sense of wellness and peace that can only be called blissful. This what the Christian hope does for us, Church!
Christians should face death with peace and bliss, because we are not abandoned after this life. Our destiny is established by God. With this hope we must able to join the Apostle Paul in our final days, and say,
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2nd Timothy 4:7-8).
May the God, whose All-Searching grace surrounded us when we did not even know him, and whose All-Saving or justifying grace saved us freely, and who is currently shaping us into what we shall be through his Never-Ending or Glorifying Grace, be with you each day
God bless you.