Dr. E. Dale Locke and Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon series: Grace: the Overwhelming, Never-ending, Reckless Love of God
Week 2: Reconcile: My Part
Link to pdf for printing: 01-13-18
- We celebrated the baptisms of 12 people across the weekend. Each baptismal candidate shared their story of how they came to faith. Briefly share how gave your life to Jesus Christ.
- We invite you to join your church family as we try to memorize Ephesians 2:8-9 over this sermon series: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Practice it together with your group now. You can do this!
- We often misunderstand God’s grace, and there seems to be two extremes to the misunderstanding. Some people think we have to earn our way to God by doing good works. This can come from growing up in a home where love was conditional. In this scenario, people often get tired of trying to be “good enough” and so they just quit faith altogether. On the other extreme are people who believe in “cheap grace”. Since we know God is loving and full of grace, these people don’t even try to live God’s way. They just live however they want to and count on getting God’s forgiveness later.
Talk about why each of these extremes is mistaken, and share which of them you tend to fall into more.
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21: So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
What questions or comments do you have as you read these verses?
Grace comes to us in four movements.
The First Movement is “Grace Before”
- Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that before we even start looking for God or are interested in Him, God pursues us. Think about your own life before you became a Christ-follower, and tell your group about some of the ways you can now recognize God was working in your life to draw you to Himself.
- Read Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own live for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The uniqueness of the Christian faith compared to other world religions is that we don’t have to clean ourselves up before coming to God, and we don’t have to earn our way to God. We can come to Him as we are, because he loves us and died for us, even while we were still sinners.
Second Movement: Grace Enough
- The second movement of grace is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17. It’s where we take a step to accept God’s grace into our lives. If we don’t respond to God’s grace, we won’t be able to fully experience God’s grace. Look at verse 17. What does it mean to be “in Christ,” and how does a person get there?
- Reconcile = To be made right in relationship; to restore
Reconciliation is a biblical word that reminds us that – even though God created the world perfect with complete relational harmony between people and between us and God – now in our current world, things are broken and need repair. What signs of that brokenness do you see in our world?
- Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:18 that God has given us – his followers – the ministry of reconciliation. It’s MLK weekend when we remember how Martin Luther King, Jr. dedicated his life to seeking to bring about racial reconciliation in our country. Abraham Lincoln spoke about how our nation began by declaring that “all men are equal” – but he confessed, even back then, that we haven’t really lived out that ideal. God’s desire is that His followers would be part of bringing reconciliation – of all kinds – into our world and certainly into our church family. Name some practical ways you could be a reconciler at church and in our world.
- John Paul Lederach, in his book Reconcilewrote about four behaviors that are opposed to our God-given ministry of reconciliation.
- Whenever we act superior
- Whenever we dehumanize
- Whenever we divide
- Whenever we lack integrity
Talk about these together with your group. And if you’re willing, share where you feel God’s conviction regarding any of these 4 points.
- If your political position ever comes into conflict with your faith, your faith in God must win – every time. Every political party has some ideas that are in line with the Christian faith, and some ideas that are not in line with what God wants in this world.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Pastor Dale shared how he seeks to be a reconciler in his own life. What are some ways you have been a reconciler in the past? Consider how you could be more of a reconciler than you have been in the past and talk about that.