Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered January 22, 2011 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Righteousness by Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9

(RealAudio available)

I was raised in Seventh-day Adventist church.  I went to all of our schools beginning in the first grade and I must tell you that I was raised a  legalist.  I was raised that my works have a contributing factor to my salvation.  I will tell you today that I have moved beyond that.  I would like to speak with you this morning about righteousness by faith.  I think that's a much better way. 

We believe in Jesus.  We believe in His righteousness.  We believe that our works are not able to obtain our salvation.  Jesus is our Savior.  If you begin to think that you are your own savior or even a partial Savior, you're not.  You are a human being that Jesus died to save.  He is our Savior and that's what I want to bring out today.  No matter how wicked you might be, you can be forgiven.  Your sins can be covered with the blood of Jesus and the power of Jesus can flow into your life so that you can live a life in response to His love.  A life better than you lived before.  Not to obtain salvation but because you have salvation.  So God will adopt you as His son or His daughter and He will provide a beautiful gift for you.

 I would like for you to look at our Scripture reading very carefully.  Ephesians 2:8 says, it is by grace that you have been saved.  That's past tense.  You were saved by grace.  When did that happen?  We were all saved when Jesus died on the cross.  That's when our release, our freedom was paid for.  Right now, what do we do?  We don't obtain it.  We accept it.  We accept it by faith. 

If I look through a piece of glass, I have here a little piece of plastic.  I'm looking through here now.  What color do you suppose you are?  You look green to me.  What if I look through a piece of red glass?  If I were to look through an orange piece of glass, what color do you suppose you would look like to me?  You would look orange.  Let me tell you that when Jesus Christ looks at you He sees somebody that He died for and when God the Father looks at you He looks through Jesus.  So when He looks through Jesus, what color do you suppose you are?  You're pure white.  Not a blemish, nothing, because He looks through Jesus at you and He sees something wonderful.  He sees you as perfect.  That's what He sees.  I like that.  God sees in us the holiness of His son Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ takes our sins and His perfect righteousness and accounts that righteousness to us.  We are not saved by our efforts.  Not at all.

There was a big ice storm in Collegedale once upon a time.  I was trying to get our car out of the garage.  Pulled it out and pulled up into the driveway.  Parked it and left it running so it would be warm.  I thought, I'll be a good husband and I'll get my wife's car out of the garage.  So I backed her car out of the garage very carefully.  I even looked backward when I was backing and backed it up and got it aimed to where it was ready to head up the driveway, and then I turned my head from looking out the back window and started looking out the windshield and what do you suppose I saw.  Not 5 feet from the front of her bumper was my car.  It had slid down out driveway ever so slowly, straight thankfully, and stopped right in front of my wife's car.  Imagine the headlines in the Collegedale newspaper.  One person,two car wreck crashing into each other in the local preacher's driveway.  Wouldn't that look great.  That was a shocking experience to look up and there's my car coming down the driveway.  I was saved by grace, I suppose. 

Sometime after that I thought about that.  It's sort of like the Christian life.  It's easy to backslide. My car was a backslider that day.  Slid backwards.  It's easy to do that.  We do that.  We slip away.  Our best efforts of never enough.  You put on the brakes.  You think, I will never do that again.  I hate that sin.  I'll never drink that stuff again.  I'll never take that again.  I'll never do that again.  You put on the brakes as hard as you can and the first thing you know you're sliding backwards down where you were before.  Does God hate you?  Does His grace still cover you?  Does His forgiveness still reach out to you?  If you ask Him for it.  If you want to change He will give you power to change. 

You have to recognize that you can't set your brake.  Only Jesus can stop you from sliding backwards.  Jesus is the brake for backsliders.   We're not saved by our good deeds.  And that's really good news.  We are saved by works.  By Jesus' works.  I haven't earned anything.  Well, I have.  I have earned death.  All my works, I have earned eternal death, but thankfully, Jesus' works provide me with eternal life.  We are spiritually bankrupt.  We are without any hope.  We have earned nothing toward eternal life.  Everybody that will walk into heaven on the streets of gold and enter the new Jerusalem will walk there courtesy of Jesus Christ.  He is our Savior.  We can't earn heaven.  Despite our brilliance.  Despite our creativity or anything else about us.

Come over here to Galatians 3:13.  This tells us actually how we get eternal life.  If the inheritance depends on the law then it does not depend on a promise but God and His grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.  How do we get eternal life?  We inherit it.  That's there in the first part of this verse.  We inherit eternal life.  You don't inherit something because of what you have done, but because of who you are.  You are a son or a daughter of the King.  You belong to the King of the universe.  You have a relationship with the King.  That's why you inherit something.  That's exactly why. 

A few years ago I saw a television commercial.  You realize that a jeweler can take a rough stone and by hitting a chisel with just the right amount of pressure in just the right direction can make a beautiful facet of a diamond out of that rough diamond stone.  So they had this luxurious limousine they were advertising that you could buy, and in the back was a jeweler.  He had his chisel just right and the diamond just right and he had his hammer just right.  This car was going over chuckholes and railroad tracks and everything else and he hit it and it did exactly what he wanted it to do.  The point of the advertisement was, if this car can do that for the jeweler, it's more than sufficient for you.  You need to buy one of these things.  In Second Corinthians 12:9, He says My grace is sufficient for you.  It is.  So I will tell you about that.  You get it through the dealership.  The dealership is Jesus and the price is free.  All you have to do is give your life to Him.  Give your heart to Him. 

Most of us tend to base our personal relationship with God and salvation on our performance, instead of His grace.  If we have misbehaved that particular week, if you base your personal religion on your performance, you're probably going to consider that you are lost on any given day of the week, because you just don't measure up.  Romans 3:10 tells us that we should expect this.  Look at Romans 3:10 and verse 12.  It says, there is no one righteous not even one.  Verse 11.  There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away.  They have together become worthless.  There is no one who does good.  Not even one.  That ought to be pretty clear.  They were teaching me at Indiana Academy, Jesus saves you most of the way but you've got to earn a good deal of it.  Believe me,  He is are 100% saviour.  We can't do anything.  No, not one is righteous.  That means that God treats all people as equals.  We're all equally sinful.  No one is better than anybody else.  In fact, man is born broken, and grace is the glue that glues us together and holds us together.  We are all bad sinners. 

That isn't the way that I view people.  I view some people is better than other people.  I think that actually some sins are worse than other sins.  Don't you think that murder is worse impatience.  In God's sight is it?  No.  But in my sight it is.  Rape is far worse than habitual overeating.  Evil people steal and lie and get drunk, but nice people do nice sins.  Nice people gossip.  It's a sin but it's not as bad as murder.  They don't forgive each other.  They're impatient.  Maybe they're bitter. They lack faith.  They don't have perfect love.  They don't have perfect patience, but that's the sins of nice people.  God doesn't view it that way.  All sin Is sin.  If you don't have perfect love, you are a sinner.  You are.  Our problem is that we tend to classify sins.  Some sre slightly bad.  Some Are Real Bad.  But God Doesn't, Because in His Eyes, If We Are Guilty of One Sin, We Are Guilty of How Many?  Guilty of All Sins.  James 2:10.  I Don't Really Have Perfect Patient.  I Pray That I Will.  I Think I'm Gaining on it Sometimes but I Don't Have Perfect patience, or perfect love.  Do I Have Complete, Consistent, Control of My Temper.  I don't.  We're All in the Same Boat.  We're All Sinners.  We'er all need to be saved from ourselves by God's Grace.  And God Will Do That.  And Who Can Say That one rotten apple is Better Than Another Rotten Apple.  We're All rotten Apples.  We All Need a Saviour. 

There Is a movie Called the Last Emperor.  It Is about a Little Boy Who Becomes the Last Emperor in China.  The Very Last One.  He Has 1000 Servants That wait on Him Hand and Foot, day and Night.  They Do His Bidding.  Somebody Said, Well What Happens When You Do Wrong Yourself, cause you're Just a Boy.  What Happens to You?  He said, Well when I do wrong, somebody else gets punished.  They said, Wow, that's kind of neat.  He said, Let me demonstrate.  So he had a vase there and he dropped it and broke it, and several people ran up and started beating one of the servants.  He said,  Isn't this neat? 

Jesus reversed that ancient pattern.  When the servants make a mistake, the King gets beaten.  The King suffers.  That's what happens with Jesus.  When you sin, who suffers?  Well You Have Some Consequences for Your Sins , but who suffers the most?  It kills Jesus.  It does.  He gives Himself to pay for your mistakes and your sins.  What a Saviour He is.   What a blessed person He is.  Grace takes our punishment.  It also gives us the power to live the Christian life.  It makes the weak strong and it makes the weak pure.  Grace makes us righteous in God's sight.  It motivates us to live the Christian life.  It covers our sins.  Empowers us.  Draws out from us acts of appreciation.  That's actually what our works are.  Our acts of appreciation. 

There was a man who climbed up a dormant volcano and he finally got to the top and on top was a big hollowed out place.  Up on top of this volcano was this large indentation full of lush vegetation and rich growth, and right in the middle of it was a fairly large pond.  Tranquil, beautiful water, as if it were the eye of the mountain beholding the heavens.  The man thought as he was up there and he thought, this is so beautiful.  Here on a volcano is a beautiful place like this and that is an illustration of what God can do.  Used to be, maybe you were erupting fumes and lava  and hot fire coming out of your mouth and a hot temper, but when God comes upon you, it becomes a place of growth.  A place of beauty and tranquility.  That's what God will do for you.  He will. 

Jesus made an amazing statement when He was on the cross.  In John 19:30 Jesus utters three words.  Probably the most important three word He ever spoke.  John 10:30 Jesus said, it is finished.  What was finished?  Something was completed at that very moment.  What do you think it was?  It was our salvation.  He paid the price.  He completely paid for  the penalty of every person who would ever live, every sinner.  That's extremely meaningful.  He paid the full price.  He secured our salvation.  He did.  It is finished.  Which means, that if it's finished, you can't continue it.  It was done back then.  He finished it, so don't even try to secure your own salvation.  Just respond in love to the salvation that He got for you through His blood.  You don't have to pay for your own sins.  Jesus paid the entire price.  But you do have to accept. 

In my home we have a garage.  That garage houses 2 cars.  These cars are mine and my wife's.  One big door.  We usually leave it open and we were eating our Sabbath lunch, enjoying our meal, after lunch our company left and went out through the garage.  We noticed in the garage a hummingbird.  He'd gotten in the garage.  This hummingbird was flying around the ceiling trying to get out and would crash into the ceiling and I thought,  what are we going to do?  So we moved the cars out and tried to shoo the thing out and it would not go out.  We finally got a broom and kept wearing him out and finally he was very weak.  He would land on the garage door opener and we would shoo him off again, and finally he landed on the broom and we lowered the broom gently down and he could peer underneath the garage door, which was wide open, but he had been operating up in the ceilings, and he spotted that beautiful big  opening, and off he went.  It had been there the whole time, but the bird did not recognize that was the door to freedom.  He had been trying to secure his own salvation.  I think what attracted him in there was the little red handle on the emergency door release. 

You may be attracted into a trap of sinfulness by something or other.   You try your best.  You can't get out.  You cannot find a way, but let me tell you, that door is Jesus.  The opening is Jesus Christ.  It's big enough to accommodate you.  That little hummingbird, the door was more than ample.  More than adequate for his rescue.  Jesus is more than adequate to pay for your sins.  All you have to do is accept it.  You have to walk through that door.  You must do that, and He will grant you, free of any cost, full salvation.  So please do that.  Accept Jesus as your Savior.  Let Him do the saving.  You do the responding.  That's what we call fruit.  Do Christians have works?  Yes.  Not works that pay for salvation, but works that respond to salvation.  That's what we have.  So respond to Jesus' love.  He does love you.  He is the door.  Jesus said, I am the way.  No man cometh to the Father but by Me.  Luke 14.  God bless you.

Hymn of Praise: #20, O Praise Ye the Lord
Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9
Hymn of Response: #109, Marvelous Grace
Sermon Notes:  Sermon notes available as PDF

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 02/04/11