Is grace powerful enough to change a person?
By: The John Ankerberg Show
| The media player is loading…
|Why is it important to be sure where you will spend eternity? Is the faith that people have in God going to get them into Heaven? Matthew 7 says, “I’m sorry. I never knew you,’ here’s what His message is.” What are two ways that Jesus talked about misplaced faith.
Copyright: 2003, Number of Programs: 4, Cat. No. YBS1
Keywords: Reject grace, Matchless grace, Matthew 21:32,
Ankerberg: Right along this line, Erwin. We’re talking to people that think they’re too good to need this grace. On the other hand, we’ve got to remember there’s a whole lot of people that feel they’re really bad. They have messed up their life. I want to talk about how grace is powerful enough to change a person. And you’ve got a great illustration in your book about a young couple who came to you.
Lutzer: Well, let me illustrate this, first of all, by saying there are two categories of people who find it difficult to accept grace. The first are those who have sinned greatly, usually moral sins – prostitutes, drug dealers. They think to themselves, “I’ve messed up so bad, God is so mad at me, I can’t accept grace.”
The other people who find it difficult to accept grace are the “goody-two-shoes,” the religious type. I mean, don’t they volunteer to do social work? Haven’t they given some money to charity? Don’t they pay all their bills? They don’t have a criminal record, why do they need grace? The simple fact is, both categories of people desperately need grace and both can accept grace. This is why I think,… by the way, Jesus said that the prostitutes will go into the kingdom of Heaven even sooner than the religious types of His day because they saw no need for God’s matchless grace (Matt. 21:32). Let’s hand it to the drug dealers and the prostitutes. At least they know that if they are going to be saved, it will be by grace.
You know, one day, John, I was in a church and a young couple came forward and I was counseling them. And this is their story. Okay, she had come to know Christ as Savior. But they had belonged to a wife-swapping club and as she brought her husband to church, I don’t think he wanted to be there. I think she probably dragged him there. I think he wanted to be there about as much as a counterfeit coin enjoys being on an offering plate! But there he was. His wife had dragged him to church and now he came forward after the meeting. He said, “I believe in a wife-swapping club. Or at least,” he says, “I’m attending and we’re part of that.” But I knew that his wife had come to know Christ recently. So I said to him, “Are you willing to accept Christ as your Savior?” And I’ll never forget. He said, “If you think that I’m going to stop doing what I’m doing,” he said, “I can’t. Because,” he said, “There’s no way I can get out of this.” You know, the addiction is too deep basically is what he was saying. And I said to him, “Are you willing to acknowledge that you are a sinner and that you need to accept Christ as Savior and that you need to be received by God’s grace if you’re going to be accepted by God?”
And he said, “Yes.” And so I did something that I was very hesitant to do. I gambled on grace. I said, “Why don’t you accept Christ as Savior. As long as you realize, number one, that you’re a sinner. You cannot contribute to your salvation. You’re throwing yourself helplessly on God’s mercy and accept Christ as your sin-bearer and then let’s worry about your wife-swapping club later.”
He accepted Christ that night. And I wondered to myself, “I wonder if his life ever changed.” A couple of weeks later he made an appointment to see me and I wondered, “What are we going to talk about?” You know, the only thing on his agenda was what Bible college to attend because he wanted to go into the ministry.
Now, here are two powerful lessons about grace. First of all, that grace is communicated to those who are in desperate need no matter of their lifestyle. Grace is available to them. But there’s a second lesson. Once we’ve received God’s grace, we are never quite the same again. In another program we are going to be talking about what it means to be born again and we’ll see that God gives us a new nature with new desires, new aspirations, so that for this man, he could not go back to his former lifestyle. God had given him a whole new set of inner priorities. That is grace, and that’s why it is so amazing.