It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. Tomorrow we have the privilege of celebrating Communion as a church. Joni Eareckson Tada said: “Sometimes I know that I come to Communion unprepared, not paying attention to the housecleaning that my heart needs.” Paul says in 1st Corinthians 11:28: “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.” So, as we prepare for worship let’s be sure to do some housecleaning on our hearts and let’s be sure to examine ourselves before we come to the Lord’s table tomorrow.
The last 4 weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for four weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, God’s power, and God’s patience. This week I want to focus on the grace of God.
A.W. Tozer writes that: “grace is an incomprehensibly immense and overwhelming plenitude of kindness and goodness. If we could only remember it, we wouldn’t have to be played with and entertained so much. If we could only remember the grace of God toward us who have nothing but demerit, we would be overwhelmed by this incomprehensibly immense attribute, so vast, so huge, that nobody can ever grasp it or hope to understand it.”
A.W. Pink said that: “Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in bestowing blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded. Nay, more; it is the favor of God to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but also who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed.
Grace cannot be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is said to be of “grace” we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it, that it was in no wise due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.”
God’s grace should continually stun us. We should be constantly amazed by His amazing grace towards us, but often times we are not stunned by His grace. Sinclair Ferguson helps us understand why we often times fail to find God’s grace amazing. He writes: “There are many reasons, but usually they involve three things. First, we have such a low sense of the holiness of God and we are insensitive to the sheer intensity of it. To whatever extent our sense of God’s holiness is diminished, to that extent our sense of amazement at God’s grace will be diminished. Second, we adopt superficial views of our sinfulness and too often guard against the ministry of the Word and Spirit exposing it. Jesus said that it is those who are much forgiven who love much. The reason is that those who are most conscious of their sin become most conscious of their need of grace, and therefore most aware of the wonders of grace. Third, we think too little of the costliness of grace. It comes freely to us because it was so expensive to Christ to satisfy the justice of God on our behalf.”
So, as we prepare for worship let’s think about the holiness of God and the sheer intensity of it. Maybe we need to spend time reading through Isaiah 6. We should also think of the costliness of grace. We should spend time reflecting on what it cost Jesus to satisfy the justice of God on our behalf. As A.W. Tozer said: “If I want to know this immeasurable grace, this overwhelming, astounding kindness of God, I have to step under that shadow of the cross. I must come where God releases grace…I must look…to that cross where Jesus died. Grace flowed out of His wounded side. The grace that flowed there saved Abel―and that same grace saves you. ‘No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). And Peter said, ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).”
Tozer ends his chapter on God’s grace with a wonderful little prayer. He says: “Father, we pray for all of us, that You will sweep away our self-righteousness, even any little, ragged traces of self-righteousness that may be left. Save us from ourselves. Let grace abound from Calvary, and teach us that it is not by grace and something else, but by grace alone, Thy goodness, Thy kindness in Christ Jesus. This we ask in the name of the Lord who loves us. Amen.”
Let’s be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Ethan as they lead us in worship tomorrow. Let’s also pray for Jerry as he will lead us in a time of confession tomorrow. Let’s also pray for Mark as he will be opening up God’s Word to us. We will be starting our study of the book of Galatians. Mark will be preaching on Galatians 1:1-5. The link to the ESV text of chapter 1 of Galatians is below.
Picture of Symmes Chapel in South Carolina from here