“OUR GREAT GOD IS FULL OF GRACE” Ps. 106:1-23
INTRO – Our lives are so brief. Just this week in our DailyWay reading, we read these words in Ps. 103:15-16 – “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it & it is gone, & its place remembers it no more.”
Louie Giglio tells story about an experience he had several yrs ago in NYC. Was in town for a speaking engagement. Staying in Manhattan. Decided to go for a run. Left his hotel & headed out. Shortly into run, began to rain. Just sprinkling at first. Then got harder. Too far from hotel to turn around. Kept pressing on. Not paying attention to signs. Just trying to survive. Came to a chainlink fence & a concrete divider. Hopped over divider & headed toward a covered overpass to get some protection from rain. Noticed that the 2 lanes of traffic turned to 3 lanes of traffic. Traffic was barely moving & some folks were yelling at him. But he was oblivious to what they were saying & just kept going until he came up on 2 NYPD cars sitting in a wide median. One of patrol cars hit his siren & the officer waved Louis over to car & informed him that he was running down the middle of the FDR expressway, a major freeway that follows the eastern shoreline of Manhattan. As the cops were running his identification in the computer & issuing him a citation for jaywalking, one asked him what he did for a living. “I’m a pastor.” “What kind of pastor are YOU?” “I’m a Christian.” “Well, what are you doing in New York?” “Speaking to a group of college students in Queens.” “What are you going to tell them?” “I’m going to remind them that life is short & our time on earth is really brief. That’s why we have to make sure our lives count for the stuff that lasts forever.” (I Am Not but I Know I Am, p. 14)
OUR GREAT GOD lasts forever!
- His love lasts forever.
- His Word lasts forever.
- His truth lasts forever.
- His peace & presence lasts forever.
- And when you know Him in a real way b/c you’ve trusted in Christ alone through faith alone by grace alone, your life lasts forever!
And it’s all by God’s great grace that we have this eternal life. And it’s all by God’s great grace that we live this thing called the Christian life while we are alive in this world. We rejoice today b/c OUR GREAT GOD IS FULL OF GRACE! Say that w/ me…
Ps. 106 outlines much of Israel’s history from the Exodus when God delivered them from captivity in Egypt through the time of the judges. This history is full of times when God’s people were walking with Him in faith & obedience & times when they were walking away from him in sin & disobedience. There were plenty of times during those years when God would have been justified if He had just gone ahead & destroyed them. But He didn’t, just as He hasn’t with us! And it’s b/c OUR GREAT GOD IS FULL OF GRACE!
God’s Grace Means… What do we mean when we use the term “grace”? Let’s get some foundational planks in place. Grace is:
- “God’s unmerited favor.”
- “God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment” (Wayne Grudem)
- “Grace is the unmerited favor of God shown to man primarily in the work & Person of Jesus Christ” (Charles Ryrie)
- “God is characterized in Scripture by His infinite grace, whereby He bestows the riches of mercy & blessing on the most unworthy creatures. The Greek word charis speaks of a free gift or favor. Grace, simply stated, is God’s unmerited favor granted to those who deserve His wrath” (J. Carl Laney).
- “…the free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners” (John MacArthur).
- “By [grace] we mean that God deals w/ His people not on the basis of their merit or worthiness, what they deserve, but simply according to their need; in other words, He deals w/ them on the basis of His goodness & generosity” (Millard Erickson).
- “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.” (A.W. Tozer)
- “God giving to us that which we do not deserve.”
- “G.R.A.C.E. – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (Adrian Rogers)
Do you get the picture? Grace is all about God coming to us…
- “while we still sinners” (Rom. 5:8);
- “while we “by our very nature were subject to God’s anger” (Eph. 2:3);
- while “we were still His enemies” (Rom. 5:10);
- while we were “far away from God…His enemies, separated from Him by [our] evil thoughts & actions” (Col. 1:21)
Grace means that OUR GREAT GOD takes the initiative to come to save us, to pour out His love into our lives, to bless us in ways we can’t even imagine, & to give us absolutely everything we need to live a life that brings glory & honor to Him.
God’s Grace Meets Us in Our Sin & Rebellion – Ps. 106 is full of accounts of God’s people continually turning away from God. He had blessed them in so many wonderful ways. And yet, they turned away from Him again & again. The psalmist clearly confessed his sins & the sins of his ancestors (v. 6).
- He said that they had “sinned” – missed the mark; done wrong against God & offended Him. They were blameworthy & guilty before God.
- He said that they had “done wrong” – They had become twisted & confused; they acted perversely & crookedly & had gone astray.
- He said that they had “acted wickedly” – They were unrighteous & were leading a delinquent life. They were gravely guilty & worthy of condemnation.
Then verse after verse throughout this Psalm shows how quickly & frequently they sinned against God:
- “gave no thought to His miracles….did not remember God’s many kindnesses…rebelled by the Red Sea” (v. 7).
- Forgot what He had done – v. 13
- Gave in to their cravings – Put God to the test – v. 14
- Grew envious of Moses & Aaron – v. 16
- Gave in to idolatry – v. 19-20
- “They forgot the God who saved them…” – v. 21
And yet, we see OUR GREAT GOD meeting them in the midst of their sin & rebellion & saving them, providing for them, delivering them from their enemies. Love what v. 44 says: “But He took note of their distress when He heard their cry.”
Isn’t that what OUR GREAT GOD does in our lives, too? We so quickly turn away from Him in moments of temptation. We so quickly forget all that He’s done for us as we give in to our sinful cravings & desires. We give no thought to all the things He has done in our lives. Like His people here in Ps. 106, we, too, miss the mark. We, too, offend Him, & are guilty & blameworthy. We, too, become twisted, confused, perverse, crooked, & wicked in our thoughts & actions.
And what does He do? Strike us dead w/ a bolt of lightning? Get fed up w/ us & destroy us? Pour out His anger & wrath into our lives? No! OUR GREAT GOD comes to us, meets us in our sin & rebellion, & forgives us & delivers us when we cry out to Him in our sin & distress!
Which should lead to the final point:
God’s Grace Motivates Us to Live a Holy Life –
“The radical gospel of grace as it is found throughout Scripture, has always had its critics. Jimmy Swaggart told me a few years ago that by trusting in God’s justifying and preserving grace, I would end up living a life of sin before long — and thus, lose my salvation and be consigned to hell. Paul anticipated that reaction from the religious community of his own day after he said, “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20, NKJV). So he asked the question he expected us to ask: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (6:1) Should we sin so that we can receive more grace? In other words, “If people believed what you just said in Romans 5, Paul, wouldn’t they take advantage of the situation and live like the dickens, knowing they were ‘safe and secure from all alarm’?” That’s a fair question. But it reveals a basic misunderstanding of the nature of God’s saving grace. Paul’s response is unmistakable: “Certainly not? How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2, NKJV).
Someone confronted Martin Luther, upon the Reformer’s rediscovery of the biblical doctrine of justification, with the remark, “If this is true, a person could simply live as he pleased!” “Indeed!” answered Luther. “Now, what pleases you?” Augustine was the great preacher of grace during the fourth and fifth centuries. Although his understanding of the doctrine of justification did not have the fine-tuned precision of the Reformers, Augustine’s response on this point was similar to Luther’s. He said that the doctrine of justification led to the maxim, “Love God and do as you please.” Because we have misunderstood one of the gospel’s most basic themes, Augustine’s statement looks to many like a license to indulge one’s sinful nature, but in reality it touches upon the motivation the Christian has for his actions. The person who has been justified by God’s grace has a new, higher, and nobler motivation for holiness than the shallow, hypocritical self-righteousness or fear that seems to motivate so may religious people today.” (Michael Horton, The Agony of Deceit, Moody Press, 1990, pp. 143-144.)