Grace & Obedience

Kingdom, Lord's Prayer, Kingdom of God, Sermon, Church, Series, Church of God, Dayton, Pennsylvania, PA, Rural Valley, Numine, Yatesboro, Smicksburg

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Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.

Matthew 19:29-20:16, 21:28-32

Two different parables, both about the kingdom, but separate in what they are teaching. Yet, you can’t have one without the other.

Grace:

  1. Prevenient Grace, also sometimes referred to as common grace, is the grace that comes before saving grace and is at work in the lives of all…               
  2. Saving Grace is the unmerited favor, mercy, compassion, acceptance, kindness, graciousness, goodwill, and divine assistance of God (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
  3. Enabling Grace is the divine life, power, and ability of God, flowing and operating through us in order to give us the supernatural power and ability for ministry and sanctification (see Romans 6). Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

I understand what God shows us about the cost of unfaithfulness and disobedience, but His Word also promises that God will empower us as Christians/believers to follow His Word faithfully and not live in sin.

Obedience: The supreme test of faith in God and reverence for Him. It is “dutiful or submissive compliance to the commands of one in authority.”  Obedience is not legalism, following the Law to the letter out of fear or following a list of divine rules in order to gain God’s love, nor is it just demands we must follow out of gratitude or to gain a relationship with God. In the Kingdom, our obedience flows from our love for God. Jesus said, If you love me…

We tend to distort Jesus’ teaching about being in the Kingdom from “Good News” to bad news—into an impossible call to scale moral peaks that are too high for anyone to climb. Instead, we should read the parables and the gospels as the fact that God has chosen, out of love, to enter into relationship with His Creation, with all of mankind, through what He accomplished on the cross thru His Son Jesus Christ. We know that God gives guidance through His Word about what pleases Him and what does not, and that through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit we can walk in obedience to His known will.  And when we choose to follow that guidance, it is because God graciously enables our obedience as disciples in the Kingdom.

So why do we overlook the empowerment promised us in the scriptures? I mean, it’s right here! The enabling grace of God is written as the spiritual presence of God in us, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are told in Romans 8:9-11,  You,(Believers) however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Did you catch that? The Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ…  The Spirit is given to the true Church, believers who are putting into action what they know!

Through the indwelling Spirit, resurrection power is enabling you and I to live lives of righteousness in obedience to God’s will! You must each decide, if you truly are believers and disciples, to work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

In John 15 Jesus speaks of mutual indwelling: “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing…. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (vs. 4-5). Our transformation, our conversion, our sanctification, all come about because of God’s grace and our obedience in taking the next step. Both as individuals and as a congregation of His Church. This cannot happen outside of knowing the reality of the Kingdom, being a disciple, and having a relationship with its King, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Genuine love for Christ will always manifest itself in grace empowered obedience to the will or God.

Jesus came to save His people from their sin, their willful disobedience, to the known will of God (see Wesley’s definition.) I truly believe that through grace, the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, that we do not have to sin! This does not mean that a Christian can ascend to sinless perfection. but, sin you will and sin you must—to say that we all sin everyday is rubbish, a trick of the devil, a lie from the very lips of our Enemy so that we rationalize staying in sin! And it calls into question the very words of God the Son, “go and sin no more.”

Rare acts of disobedience may still occur. But the new birth gives us a new heart that desires to obey the Word. This happens when we accept God’s gift of Salvation and new life in Christ. In Ezekiel 36:26-27, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”  This is the grace of God that enables us to live our devotion, to take our next step of obedience and “turn communities upside down.”

The parables have hopefully caused us to think, to have a vision of the Kingdom, and to put the reality of the Kingdom 1st as we walk in this world. Seeking the Kingdom first, making Kingdom priorities first, and following our King daily. In the Kingdom, we grow in Christ and our dispositions, intentions, and motivations change. Our outlook and priorities are different and being in the world, but not of it, challenges those around us to the reality of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Digging Deeper

  • Taking your next step in obedience is the supreme test of faith in God and reverence for Him. There are three types of grace:
  • Do you walk in grace and obedience?
  • How are you living out grace and obedience every day?

Further Reading:

 

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