Preach Grace

What a privilege it is to preach “The Gospel of God” – a message carrying with it all the authority of the God of heaven and earth! What a privilege it is to preach a gospel that is “The Gospel of Christ” – a message conveying the glorious person and work of the Son of God! What a privilege it is to preach a message that is “The Gospel of Peace” – a message that tells of reconciliation! And what a privilege it is to preach “The Gospel of the Grace of God”!

From its first mention in Genesis 6:8 all the way through the Bible until its final mention in the last verse of Revelation 22, “grace” is seen on the pages of God’s Word and constantly marks God’s dealings with our rebellious and ruined race. Newton was right to call it “amazing.” It is grace that brought the Lord Jesus from heaven (2Co 8:9); grace led Him to taste death for everyone (Heb 2:9); grace brought to us salvation (Eph 2:8), forgiveness (Eph 1:7), and justification (Rom 3:24). Remembering that we, who in the past were children of wrath and children of disobedience, have been made children of God should cause us to ask God, as Ruth did Boaz, “Why have I found grace in Thine eyes?” (Rth 2:10). And the apostle Paul added to his testimony these words, “the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1Ti 1:14).[1]

This, then, is part of our responsibility in gospel work. If we fail to present the grace of God in our gospel preaching, we run the risk of presenting a distorted and confusing gospel. The seriousness of this can be seen in the Galatian epistle, a letter the beginning of which is uncharacteristically lacking in any affectionate greeting or apostolic commendation. Instead, Paul reminds his readers, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal 1:6).

In Acts 15, when certain “teachers” preached that a physical, religious rite was essential to salvation, “Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them” (v2). The evangelists would not permit additional, human-contrived “steps” to be added to the simplicity of salvation by grace. Peter’s summation concerning Jews and Gentiles was, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (v11).

The Gospel accounts are filled with examples of the grace that marked the Lord Jesus in His dealings with sinners – touching a terminally ill leper, seeking out a Samaritan woman, crossing a stormy lake to reach a demoniac, responding to the cry of a Canaanite woman, pausing a procession to summon a blind beggar, delivering a dying malefactor on the brink of eternal fire. No wonder He was called “The Friend of Sinners”! Look over that hastily constructed list: if any of these – or people like them – walked into one of our gospel meetings, would they grasp in our preaching that, despite who they were and what they had done, there was salvation for them because of the super-abounding grace of God?

That sublime fact – salvation is all of grace – should have a monumental impact on our thinking, praying, laboring and preaching. Perhaps you are praying for someone who seems an unlikely candidate for salvation. The grace of God reached a hate-filled man named Saul of Tarsus. Perhaps you are preaching to some who are unresponsive and careless. The grace of God reached just such a man in a jail in Philippi. Perhaps you are laboring in a difficult field where ignorance of the truth is rampant. The grace of God, operating in what is likely the single greatest gospel campaign of all time, reached the entire pagan city of Nineveh.

It is essential that we preach man’s ruin. We would do our audiences an injustice if we hid from them the dire consequences of their sins and the warnings of eternal judgment. But lest we be found guilty of adding to the message, we need to preach a message of God’s grace – His willingness to save any sinner who will repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Our careful presentation of the sinfulness, helplessness and hopelessness of the human condition should be done in such a way that it brings sinners to the point where they are willing to look to God alone for salvation. Isaac Watts “caught” that attitude in his hymn:

“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
on Thy kind arms I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.”

Let us see to it that in all our gospel preaching we are careful to proclaim the rich, undeserved, incomparable grace of our God in giving His Son to die and in offering forgiveness to sinners. More than 100 years ago, a preacher in Bournemouth, England, turned down requests that he run for political office. He said, “I do not disparage the work the parliament can do in the way of bettering human conditions. But the ultimate healing of the world’s hurt is not to be effected by legislation but by the redeeming grace of God, and the proclamation of that redeeming grace is the highest work to which any man can be called.”

[1] All Scripture references in this article are from the KJV