“From Grace to Peace”


Mark 8:27-38 / Romans 5:1-11

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father….

Please pray with me…

You know, this is a pretty good vocation. I can’t think of another occupation that would be as rewarding as the one I am currently blessed to have. How many jobs encourage you to seek God at every moment and work to help others do the same. What other profession gives you more chances to have one-on-one time with the Father. What other trade gives you the opportunity to work so intimately with others. None that I can think of.

One of my very favorite things to do as the pastor here at Redeemer is to visit our shut-ins. Each and every one of them help in many ways to encourage me and prop me up as I attempt to do the same for them. At every visit we are blessed to share Holy Communion together one on one and it never gets old. We talk, we laugh and we pray together. It’s really a rewarding time for me and I hope for them too.

Every time I visit, we go through a little church service together and recently I noticed something about the service itself. It always begins with grace and forgiveness then ends with peace. In the beginning we are reminded of God’s great gift of grace and at the end, we are reminded of what that grace gives us, a welcome reminder in all our lives.

The Greek word for grace is “charis” as it means, among other things, gift of kindness. Paul uses this word in Romans more than he does in any other book. For the people of Rome who had grown up focused on law, for Rome was an empire with law as its very foundation, he emphasized the free gift of grace that no law abiding citizen could ever earn. To Paul’s followers in Rome, his message would have fallen on eager ears towards the promise that with God, you get His gift of grace, His gift of kindness undeserved.

Our New Testament lesson for this morning is yet another reminder of this grace which we all share.  So what is grace to us? Martin Luther says that grace is the gift of God that “signifies that favor with which God receives us, forgiving our sins and justifying us freely through Christ. This kind of grace is not a quality of man but of God.”

Who but God could see us as blameless even in repentance? Who but God would be willing to forget our sins, even as we repeat them time and time again. Who but God would sacrifice His only Son so that this grace could be given to all who look to the cross. Only God is willing and, therefore, only God can provide the purest form of grace.

You and I, we could never hope to share this kind of love. We were born into sin and because of this curse, we deserve nothing but damnation.

We are not capable of this kind of pure love because the old Adam works so hard to lead us to our own destruction. For every righteous act within us, there are 100 acts of unrighteousness fighting to be heard. For every loving action towards our neighbor, there are 100 loving actions that we turn our back on. For every attempt at purity, there is something that Satan uses to blacken us. For every promise to do better, there is a broken promise that follows. We, by ourselves, have no hope. We are broken, battered and bandaged. Our sin has left us desolate and undeserving of any kind of forgiveness. Our broken promises deserve nothing but deaf ears.

But, thanks be to God, that is not where it ends. Thanks be to God that He showers us with His grace despite our unrighteous behaviors, our lack of respect for our neighbors and our impure thoughts and broken promises. Thanks be to God that He is not like the world but instead chooses to provide us unmerited love and undeserved forgiveness just in the asking. Despite their grumbling, God provided water from a rock when Moses struck it and despite our many blemishes, God has provided us with living water so that we will never thirst, a water that, to us, is like a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

The grace of God has been with us from the very beginning. Adam and Eve deserved nothing, but God gave them life.

Abraham himself lived in grace and we witness it in Genesis 15:6 where it tells us that “Abraham believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness.” In our Old Testament lesson the people complained but God provided anyway.

And this same righteousness is extended to us, through the same faith that they shared, not because of that faith, rather it is our faith that reaches up and receives the grace that God has promised. Grace, like faith, is a gift from God to us and not from us to God. That is why we Baptize infants, because it’s not about what we can do, it’s about what God can do.

Together, we stand in the grace of God and that means we have found favor with Him because of that grace which He shares. Through this we all can find the peace that is beyond our own understanding. It starts with grace and it ends in peace. Because of this gift of kindness, we have our peace and security not only for today but for all time and we have a quality of life beyond anything we could ever hope for on our own.

Living in grace changes the way we think as Christians. It changes how we see things and interpret things.

Paul says in our New Testament lesson, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith (through grace), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

God Himself provides us with this grace in which we stand and, because of His grace, our hearts have been changed and our response to suffering has been changed. No longer does suffering defeat us because now we have cause to “rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope which does not put us to shame, because God’s love has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

If our attitude is different than this it is because of the sin that lives within us. Rather, we should understand that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) As Christians we no longer have to live in a state of panic and depression, which only serve to destroy our health and ruin our relationships. Because of the grace that God offers us, we can live with the assurance that our sins will be forgiven and our everlasting life has been secured.

God doesn’t wait for us to clean up our lives on our own because we are simply not capable. He doesn’t wait for us to fulfill our promise to be a better person because He knows that this is beyond our capability without Him. He doesn’t wait for your invitation, He waits for you to accept His.

We are rightfully dead in our trespasses and because of this Christ died for us. It is a rare thing for one person to die for another. It takes an incredible love that is hard even to understand. It might be that you would die for someone who is dear to you like your spouse or children but there is a very short list for people who would even do that. Many have stepped up to defend this great nation and preserve our freedom but their desire is never to die.

No, what Christ did was remarkable because He knew the fate that was His and He willingly died a most horrible death so that you and I could be free of the sentence that our sins deserve. It’s amazing because Jesus died for His enemies. He died for us when we did not love Him, when we were on the other side.

And, because of the grace of God, we have a future to look forward to with eager anticipation. If the Lord treated us that good while we were enemies, think of how great He will treat us when we claim our inheritance in heaven with Him.

Verse 10 in our Romans passage says that we have been saved through His life. It’s just a little ways past our lesson for this morning but it bears noticing. We make a mistake of we only notice the word, “saved,” because that’s not the climax of the sentence. We have only been saved because Christ was willing to give up His life. Because of this we have been delivered from death to life, from damnation to salvation.

Whatever you have in life that you need to be delivered from, Christ is the answer. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that,  To Him who is able to do immeasurably more then all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations, forever and ever.” There is nothing too big for God, no problem that cannot be covered by His grace.

The word grace and the word gift can be used interchangeably. In this chapter alone, Paul uses it 20 times. It’s true that every good thing that we enjoy is because of God’s grace. Every victory, every joy, every happiness is a gift from God to us. That is God’s gift of kindness towards His people, even those who turn their back on Him. That is a gift that can only come from a God-sized love.

2 Corinthians 9:8-11 says, And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”

If any season in the church year tells the story of God’s grace, it is most certainly the one we are currently celebrating. Lent reminds us of God’s grace every time we hear of the savior’s sacrifice. Every time we reminded of the new life we have found in Him, God’s grace shines through as the very reason we enjoy such a gift.

You can really do two things with the gift of kindness that can only come from a loving God, you can accept it or you can reject it. One might not take it because of procrastination or neglect, another might reject it because of unbelief, but the reasons don’t matter. To fail to receive this greatest of gifts is to fail to be a child of God and to fail to have life. To accept the gift, one must come to God in repentance and faith in the finished work of Christ.

Will you accept His gift to you? Will you claim the prize? God sent His Son to die on a cross in the hope that you would. How about your neighbors? Could they benefit from this gift of grace that only God can give? If so, are you willing to tell them it’s waiting for them?

Lent is a time we remember God’s grace and what He was prepared to do in the name of grace for all who come to Him but this message was never intended to keep to ourselves. Lent is for all of God’s people, even those who deny Him. Christ died even for His enemies of which we, regretfully have to claim a membership in.

Due to the grace of God, we were blessed with the perfect sacrifice for our sin. So what does the death and resurrection of His son give us?

A love that can never be fathomed
A life that can never die
A righteousness that can never be tarnished
A peace that can never be understood
A rest that can never be disturbed
A joy that can never be diminished
A hope that can never be disappointed
A glory that can never be clouded
A light that can never be darkened
A purity that can never be defiled
A beauty that can never be marred
A wisdom that can never be baffled and
Resources that can never be exhausted.

Share the message of Lent, proclaim the promise of Easter, claim your inheritance and help other’s to claim theirs.  May the grace of God be with you now and always and give you peace. Amen


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