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Monday, June 24, 2024

The place Jesus Travels: Introducing the Technique of Grace

Right here’s just a little define of the place we’ll be stepping into these periods. On this first one for the Sunday College hour, we’re simply going to speak in regards to the thought of technique of grace. Initially, that God is gracious and that he has his explicit, chosen, appointed means for our lives to dwell within the provide of his grace. Then the sermon this morning will deal with God’s phrase as a method of grace. Jonathan Edwards referred to as the phrase of God the “chief” and “soul” of the technique of grace.

Tonight the subject is fellowship, and we’ll even have a particular accent on the Lord’s Supper as a part of the technique of grace which are associated to the fellowship of the native church. And I imagine we get to have fun the Lord’s Supper collectively tonight. Then tomorrow night time will likely be a deal with prayer and on fasting. Fasting particularly is an accent to prayer.

My coronary heart for these periods is that I’d like to make clear, simplify, and encourage, and right here’s what I imply by that. I need to make clear the supply of the Christian life as God’s ongoing grace. Christianity is to not encounter grace prior to now after which dwell in your personal energy; Christianity is to dwell on God’s ongoing provide of grace. So we need to discuss these means. What are the implies that God himself calls us into, to dwell on the continued provide of his grace?

Then I need to simplify the pursuit of his grace. Generally we take into consideration religious disciplines and we make a protracted checklist, like, “Oh, there’s 12 issues it is advisable do, or really 18, or extra like 24.” Consider your full checklist of religious disciplines. If you happen to had been to attempt to do these disciplines always in your life, it will be your full-time job. So what I need to do is simplify that checklist and ask, what are the primary rules? What does God need us to learn about his ongoing technique of grace? After which how would possibly we, in our numerous seasons of life, with our explicit bent and our explicit calling, see the rules of God’s grace be operative in our lives with out simply checking off someone else’s bins from some lengthy checklist of religious disciplines?

Then lastly, I need to encourage you to domesticate habits of grace via various seasons of life, and to take action for a lifetime. So I’ll communicate in regards to the grace of God, then the technique of grace, after which “habits of grace” is my means of speaking about our personal lives, our personal utility, and the methods through which we entry God’s timeless technique of grace in our numerous seasons of life, in order that we’d know and luxuriate in him, and in having fun with him, we glorify him in our lives via our actions and phrases.

My hope is that I need to put and preserve the gospel and the vitality of God on the middle of this entire pursuit of religious disciplines or technique of grace. And as I hope we see tonight, by taking a full session to emphasise the company dynamics of the Christian life, I need to emphasize these company dynamics in a means that I believe typically will get neglected in discussions about religious disciplines. Typically religious disciplines are actually centered on what I do and what I do alone, like Bible studying and prayer on my own. And I believe a vital dynamic — we’ll see this in biblical texts and we’ll discuss it at size tonight as a result of it’s vital within the Christian life — is the covenant fellowship of the native church that we’re technique of grace to one another. After which I need you, nonetheless previous or younger, to know, to take pleasure in, and to glorify Jesus, and to have some sense of how to try this for a lifetime.

It’s my prayer that this seminar would aid you make God’s technique of grace, and your personal habits that develop round his means, not simply accessible and practical however really God’s means on your figuring out and having fun with Jesus for a lifetime. And also you see there how the connection is made between taking a look at Jesus (seeing him), as we prayed earlier than with Invoice and Dan, and savoring him. I like that language. We need to make use of the technique of grace as a method to that finish.

Taps and Gentle Switches

So right here in session one then we need to discuss in regards to the technique of grace. I like this encouragement from Jonathan Edwards. We’ll get to the quote in context right here in a couple of minutes. He says, “Lay your self in the way in which of allurement.”

Once I discuss technique of grace, it’s useful for me to consider taps and lightweight switches, perhaps as a result of as I used to be instructing this materials to varsity college students, I used to be turning into a house owner for the primary time, and I used to be starting to consider issues for the primary time that I hadn’t considered earlier than. You develop up and switch the tap and the water comes on. With the sunshine change, someone else takes care of that. If in case you have the issue of turning that faucet and no water comes out, someone else goes to cope with that. If you’re a house owner, ain’t no one else going to cope with that. It’s a must to deal with what’s happening there.

The primary factor that’s useful about taps and lightweight switches (although it’s not an ideal illustration) is that it helps to reveal what technique of grace are like within the Christian life. As a result of for me, I don’t present the water. For me, the town of Minneapolis does that, and I’m not a plumber. I didn’t put it in my home, and I don’t know how you can repair it if it goes awry. Thankfully, I married into the household of a plumber. My father-in-law is a plumber, however he’s two hours north. If we begin to have an issue, that’s a very long time earlier than he can get onsite. I really feel this now as a house owner.

Once I flip that faucet on and water comes out, I don’t have fun what I did, saying, “Have a look at me, I turned the water on.” As the children go to the sink to get water, as they bathe, as they do no matter they do in the home, I don’t say, “Look what your dad did. Your dad gave you water.” They turned on the tap they usually engaged the means, the appointed means. The water was there ready, and the facility, the electrical energy, was there ready as a result of someone else is supplying the facility and we have to simply launch that energy within the appointed place. We don’t stroll round the home saying, “Water,” and water comes out. No, if you’d like water, you flip the tap. In order for you electrical energy, you flip the change, or inform Alexa to show the sunshine on. However you do the appointed means to launch the provision of energy.

There are similarities within the Christian life. We could be susceptible to assume, “Oh, I need God’s energy. I need to stroll within the wilderness and have God give me his energy.” However God has given us appointed means. He has offered water, and he has plumbed the home, and he has put in a faucet, and he has informed you, “That’s the place the water comes from.” He has offered the electrical energy and he tells us the place the change is, as if to say, “That’s the place it occurs.” And get this, it’s not computerized. Simply because I flip the change doesn’t imply the lights will at all times go on. But when I don’t flip the change, the lights aren’t going to activate. Likewise, with God’s technique of grace he has given us his common locations the place he desires us to go to entry his ongoing provide, his ongoing grace for the Christian life.

The Grace of God

Right here is our define for session one. We need to discuss briefly, however not simply briefly, in regards to the grace of God. I don’t need to skip over this. I don’t need to assume this. We don’t need to say, “Oh yeah, God is gracious, transfer on.” We need to linger over the God of all grace and his graciousness. That’s so essential in coming to him, as a result of our consciousness, our consciousness issues to him. He doesn’t need to simply provide grace anonymously. He loves to present donations of grace which are linked to the identify of his Son. So we need to discuss his grace. Then we’ll take a look at his appointed technique of grace. After which on the finish, I’ll say one thing very briefly about our cultivation of habits to usually entry his technique of grace. Then I’ve to speak in regards to the finish of the means once more. We need to finish with that.

I’ve already given you a glimpse of the tip of the means, however let’s come again as a result of we’ve got means, and means are means to some finish. Means means one thing, and it means going to some finish, and we’ll rehearse that on the finish.

The Grace of Justification

First, let’s deal with the grace of God. It’s so essential that we duly acknowledge God and admire him in all his import, as he’s revealed himself to us because the God of all grace. That’s why I’ve 1 Peter 5:10 right here. It says, “After you’ve suffered a short while, the God of all grace . . .” Brothers and sisters, that is the God who made you. That is the God who’s, that is the God who despatched his personal Son, that is the God who has appointed means and desires to maintain you within the Christian life. He’s the God of all grace. All true grace on your life, on your ongoing well being, and on your ongoing survival as a Christian, is in him. He offers the grace. He’s the God of all grace. He has referred to as you to his everlasting glory in Christ. He himself will restore, verify, strengthen, and set up you in struggling and in instances of life that aren’t acutely troublesome. In all seasons, he’s the God of all grace, supplying the grace of our Christian life.

However let’s say that with just a little extra specificity. We will do that massive class of grace generally, however what are a few of the particular manifestations of his grace within the Christian life? At first, let’s rehearse the muse of his grace. Earlier than we do something or take part in any means, he has a basis of grace, and there’s 100% acceptance of us other than what we do in Christ Jesus. We name this the grace of justification by religion. We may go to many texts, however let me provide you with two and summarize the grace of justification by religion alone. That is Romans 4:4–5:

Now to the one who works, his wages aren’t counted as a present however as his due (we’re speaking a couple of reward; wages aren’t the way in which to pursue acceptance with God). And to the one who doesn’t work however believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his religion is counted as righteousness.

All of us want righteousness to face earlier than the residing, holy God. We can’t, as sinners and as people, present that righteousness. However God despatched his personal Son to dwell out that righteousness in our human flesh, and die for us to cowl our sins, in order that being joined to him by religion we’d have our sins paid for in him and have his righteousness with a view to be absolutely, 100-percent accepted earlier than his Father. That is the muse of the Christian life within the grace of justification by religion. Earlier than we do something, earlier than we act (we don’t deserve it in any means), he justifies us by religion by connecting us to his Son, in whom is righteousness.

Titus 3:4–7 says:

However when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not due to works accomplished by us in righteousness (hear the language of righteousness that isn’t by works and is the muse of our acceptance), however in response to his personal mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly via Jesus Christ our Savior, in order that being justified by his grace (justification is a manifestation of God’s grace) we’d change into heirs in response to the hope of everlasting life.

At first, God’s grace meets us earlier than we’re engaged. We obtain by religion. Earlier than we’re engaged with our will, our vitality, our actions, and our works, he justifies us in Jesus. That is exceptional grace.

The Grace of Sanctification

Generally folks cease there. It’s superb grace, the grace of forgiveness, the grace of justification by religion. Could we no means ever decrease the grace of justification by religion. And God’s much more gracious than solely to justify us and settle for us absolutely based mostly on the righteousness of Christ. Calvin and the Reformers had this Latin phrase: duplex gratia.

Anyone know what meaning? It means double grace. It’s grace instances two. All of us need God’s grace and justification. Amen. By no means decrease it. And, what Calvin emphasised — most likely with Luther’s weak point within the background — is that we imagine in double grace. He offers us the grace of full acceptance in Christ and the grace retains going. He offers us the grace of being virtually rescued from the distress of sin. It will be an incredible grace to have our sins lined after which nonetheless must dwell with the distress. However the double grace of sanctification now begins to take away us from the distress of sin.

Sin will not be a great factor. It’s not joyful in the long run. Pleasurable as it might really feel within the second, it won’t be good for you in the long term and for eternity. It’s a double grace to be rescued from the facility of sin, not solely pardoned out of your sin. That is the grace of sanctification, and I rehearse it as a result of it pertains to means. These technique of grace, we find them within the a part of the Christian life that’s about sanctification, about turning into extra holy, about being engaged within the progress that the Holy Spirit is making in us. Justification is other than works, other than our means. We’re not doing something. We’re not studying any Bibles or doing any prayers for justification. However in sanctification we’ve got the dignity of being engaged, of discovering the thrill of holiness.

Right here’s Titus 2:11–12. The looks language is similar to Titus 3:4–7. Titus loves to speak like this. Earlier than he mentioned, “God our Savior appeared,” and down right here we’ve got, “the grace of God appeared in Jesus.” So grace for the Christian has a face. Grace got here. The God of grace has are available in grace incarnate in Jesus.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all folks . . . (Titus 2:11)

Consider how that corresponds with the facets of grace which are in justification and forgiveness. He continues and says this grace is “coaching us to resign ungodliness and worldly passions, and to dwell self-controlled, upright, and godly lives within the current age . . .” (Titus 2:12). So grace not solely receives us other than our coaching to get us proper with God, however grace additionally then begins to go to work on us. Grace trains. It’s like an athlete being skilled. You interact, you’re employed, and also you practice, and it adjustments form over time. The individual is modified. They change into a greater runner, a greater participant, or a greater actor as they do the coaching. Likewise, grace begins to work on us, coaching us to resign ungodliness and worldly passions, and to dwell self-controlled, upright godly lives within the current age. There’s a double grace right here — the grace of salvation coming and the grace going to work on us that trains us. Grace trains us.

A Holy Work Ethic

In 1 Corinthians 15:10, I like Paul’s expression of this coaching, altering, remodeling grace. He says:

By the grace of God I’m what I’m, and his grace towards me was not in useless. Quite the opposite, I labored tougher than any of them . . .

You already know who the “them” is right here? It’s not lazy Corinthians. The “them” are the opposite apostles. He says, “I labored tougher than any of them,” and I’m assuming Paul will not be prideful at this level. I’m assuming he had such an industrious, Herculean work ethic that the variations had been manifest, in order that he may discuss them with humility and never brag. Everybody knew Paul labored a lot tougher than Peter and John. That’s okay. That was Paul’s explicit reward, no matter it was. He labored tougher than all of them. However you realize what? It was the grace of God. He says, “Although it was not I, however the grace of God that’s with me.”

So God’s grace not solely met him on the highway to Damascus, modified his coronary heart, and saved him other than him doing something, however the grace of God went to work in him and he was a manifest employee. Paul’s a piece ethic man. He talks rather a lot about work, and that work is figure that’s accomplished by the grace of God. So God’s grace not solely saves, forgives, and justifies, however God’s grace trains and goes to work in and thru us.

Philippians 2:12–13 is one other place to point out this dynamic of God working and our working. We have to have a spot in our Christian life the place we consider how God works and we don’t. That’s the place of justification. It’s a vital class to have in our reception of grace, and seeing God because the God of all grace. And we have to have a class for God working via our working. Philippians 2:12–13 says:

Subsequently, my beloved, as you’ve at all times obeyed, so now, not solely as in my presence however far more in my absence, work out your personal salvation with worry and trembling . . .

Then we’re given the rationale why. Now, discover he doesn’t say “work on your salvation.” They’re justified. They’re accepted 100%, based mostly on Christ alone and never their works. He’s saying, “You’re accepted, now work that out.” Don’t work for it, work it out. And right here’s why. Right here’s why you’re employed it out. It’s not in your personal energy. He says:

For it’s God who works in you, each to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

God goes to work by the facility of his Spirit within the Christian. He begins to alter us, he begins to, by his phrase and by the Spirit, give us good needs and encourage us for holiness, and never sin. He offers us the need, and we need to work it out and do it in such a means that we’re not incomes God’s favor. However as a result of we’ve got his favor, we’re delighted to work it out with pleasure for his glory and the nice of others.

The Grace of Glorification

Then lastly, to carry this to an in depth on this parsing out his grace, we’ve spoken of the previous grace in our expertise of justification, current grace in sanctification, and now we’ve got future grace in glorification. It’s superb. I don’t know what the Latin phrase could be for triple grace. We must always most likely do triple grace too. The grace that’s coming is the grace of glorification. Isn’t it loopy that we discuss in that language, that God will glorify us? It’s superb. Second Thessalonians 1:11 says:

Could [God] fulfill each resolve for good and each work of religion by his energy . . .

Simply observe right here this concept of “work of religion.” As a result of there’s religion, the Christian works it out, and does so by his energy, which is what we’re speaking about within the technique of grace, religious disciplines. After which Paul says, “In order that the identify of our Lord Jesus Christ could also be glorified” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Sure, it’s the glory of Christ. Amen. That’s what we’re for, the glory of Christ. Could Jesus be glorified. After which Paul says, “and also you in him” (2 Thessalonians 1:12). Could he be glorified in you, after which you may be glorified in him. He will likely be glorified in you in response to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. So God’s grace accepts us other than our works, goes to work in us, rescues us virtually from the miseries of sin, and his grace will glorify us as we glorify Jesus.

The final textual content right here on this part is Ephesians 2:4–7. That is in regards to the ongoing grace of God into eternity. Don’t assume that before everything we’re saying grace is a previous factor. We don’t dwell the Christian life in gratitude for grace, as if grace occurred prior to now and now we dwell in gratitude. That’s not the way it works. And even going into the longer term it is going to be ongoing grace, upon grace, upon grace. Paul says:

However God, being wealthy in mercy, due to the good love with which he beloved us, even once we had been lifeless in our trespasses, made us alive along with Christ — by grace you’ve been saved (a reference to justification) — and raised us up with him and seated us with him within the heavenly locations in Christ Jesus, in order that within the coming ages (that is future) he would possibly present the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

“Earlier than we’re engaged with our vitality, our actions, and our works, God justifies us in Jesus.”

It should take eternity for our God to proceed to point out us the bounty of his grace. That’s what’s coming. That’s a strategy to seize what’s going to occur in heaven, and within the new heavens and new earth. God goes to proceed to point out us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Jesus Christ. He’s the God of all grace. At first, we’ve got to start out with God being gracious. Don’t take that as a given or an assumption. Let’s like it and let’s rehearse it.

The Technique of Grace

The second factor we’ll deal with is that he has appointed means. There are technique of his grace. Within the final era or so, there was a revival of this language of religious disciplines. Possibly it’s a revival, and perhaps the primary time the language has been used was within the late Nineteen Seventies. Richard Foster had a e-book on the celebration of disciplines, and there have been many good books which have talked about religious disciplines. That’s the topic we’re speaking about right here. That is about religious disciplines.

Nonetheless, by beginning with this accent on God’s grace and wanting to make use of that time period “technique of grace,” I believe there’s some significance in it. I discover this personally useful. I discovered it useful with school college students and as I’ve talked with of us through the years. Casting it when it comes to technique of grace relatively than religious disciplines places the accent in some completely different locations. It actually helps how we take into consideration the idea. D. A. Carson has mentioned that “technique of grace” is a beautiful expression, and is much less vulnerable to misinterpretation than “religious disciplines.” You may interpret religious disciplines appropriately. It’s okay to have that in my subtitle. That’s the language persons are utilizing, however I actually need to accent that these are technique of grace.

Studying J. I. Packer was the primary time I noticed the connection between religious disciplines and technique of grace. That is really an endorsement for Don Whitney’s e-book, and do not forget that being a disciple means being a learner. J.I. Packer wrote:

The doctrine of the disciplines (disciplinae, that means “programs of studying” or “coaching”) is mostly a restatement and extension of classical Protestant instructing on the technique of grace.

Then he summarizes these technique of grace in his parenthesis in an endorsement for a e-book. I like it. Packer endorsed many books. I believe he noticed these as instructing alternatives. He doesn’t sometimes simply say, “Hey, I like this individual. Get the e-book.” He normally sees it as just a little instructing alternative. He lists the technique of grace because the phrase of God, prayer, fellowship, and the Lord’s Supper. I’ve already informed you our define. The phrase of God is the sermon this morning, prayer is tomorrow night time, and fellowship and the Lord’s Supper I’m placing collectively tonight.

The Necessity of Means

We’ll see extra about this phrase. I discover that J. C. Ryle is especially useful right here. I actually like the way in which that Ryle talks in regards to the technique of grace and the classes he places them collectively in. Right here’s what Ryle has to say. We’ll most likely come again to this tonight as a fast abstract earlier than speaking extra about fellowship. He’s writing over 100 years in the past, so see the timelessness of this. This isn’t stylish. This isn’t an enormous technique of grace pattern. This isn’t stylish, that is timeless. He says:

The technique of grace are comparable to Bible studying, non-public prayer, and usually worshiping God in church . . .

So not less than right here we’ve got the phrase, prayer, and fellowship. And he talks about usually worshiping, which is a company technique of grace. He says, “Right here, one hears the phrase taught and participates within the Lord’s Supper.”

You may have the phrase being taught, and the phrase is the Bible. Then there’s this reference to Lord’s Supper. These guys preserve wanting to say the Lord’s Supper. We’ll see why in only a minute. Ryle continues, and it is a essential sentence:

I lay it down as a easy matter of truth, that nobody who’s careless about such issues should ever anticipate to make progress in sanctification.

That’s superb. He says, “Nobody who’s careless about such issues should ever anticipate to make progress in sanctification.” What are the “such issues”? It’s the phrase, prayer, and fellowship (the native church, company worship). He continues:

I can discover no file of any eminent saint who ever uncared for them. They’re appointed channels via which the Holy Spirit conveys contemporary provides of grace to the soul, and strengthens the work which he has begun within the inward man . . . Our God is a God who works by means and he won’t ever bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so excessive and religious that he can get on with out them (the technique of grace).

An identical statement I’ve heard earlier than and seen in my very own life is that I’ve by no means met a powerful chief within the church or a Christian (somebody who’s sturdy within the religion and advantages others) who has ignored the technique of grace — particularly, accessing God’s phrase regularly, praying about it, and being a part of the native church. Let any of those slip, any of those three, and the matrix of energy for the Christian life goes away. And barring uncommon circumstances of struggling, anybody who’s simply languishing of their religion, very hardly ever (or ever) have I spoken with somebody like that who couldn’t determine some lapse or sample of neglect associated to the phrase, or prayer, or the native church.

I’m not saying there’s a exact relationship the place in the event you miss a day of devotions and also you’re doing horrible spiritually. Nonetheless, over the patterns of our life, there’s a exceptional correspondence between attending to the methods God has informed us that he has appointed for ongoing grace and religious well being. We’ll come again to the Ryle quote.

Laying within the Means of Allurement

Let me give Zacchaeus and Bartimaeus for instance of what I imply by positioning ourselves. The title right here on “laying your self in the way in which of allurement” is essential. Generally religious disciplines to me appear to be they accent my doing. I’ve to take the initiative and I’ve to make this occur. That is on me. I have to muster up the energy and make it occur.

With technique of grace, I need to accent the positioning of ourselves and the posturing of ourselves. God is the God of all grace. He has informed us the locations through which his grace is flowing, so the accountable response on our half is to place ourselves and posture ourselves to obtain his grace. This isn’t before everything a posture of motion, it’s a posture of reception. See that right here in these back-to-back tales in Luke’s gospel about Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus.

As he drew close to to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. (Luke 18:35)

That is attention-grabbing. Bartimaeus was not wandering within the wilderness, and lo and behold, the Savior of the world comes upon him within the wilderness. He was sitting by the roadside. There was a path, and he was sitting by the trail. The passage continues:

And listening to a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They informed him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those that had been in entrance rebuked him, telling him to be silent. However he cried out all of the extra, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be dropped at him. And when he got here close to, he requested him, “What would you like me to do for you?” He mentioned, “Lord, let me recuperate my sight.” And Jesus mentioned to him, “Get better your sight; your religion has made you properly.” And instantly he recovered his sight and adopted him, glorifying God. And all of the folks, once they noticed it, gave reward to God. (Luke 18:36–43)

Now, we are able to emphasize a number of issues on this passage. The rationale I’m emphasizing the positioning or the place the place Bartimaeus was for our functions concerning technique of grace is that the subsequent story can be alongside the trail.

Positioned within the Pathway of Grace

Now let’s deal with Zacchaeus, a wee little man, perhaps you realize the music. Zacchaeus illustrates this higher than Bartimaeus.

He entered Jericho and was passing via. And behold, there was a person named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. And he was in search of to see who Jesus was, however on account of the gang he couldn’t, as a result of he was small in stature. (Luke 19:1–3)

This comes upon Bartimaeus in a means he didn’t anticipate, however he’s alongside a path when it does. He’s the sort of man who desires assist. He’s blind and he wants assist. So the place do you go to get assist? The place persons are. The place are folks? On the trail. So there’s a motive Bartimaeus was there. Nevertheless it’s all of the extra right here on this passage as a result of Zacchaeus is in search of Jesus. He desires to entry grace. So how do you entry the grace in Christ? You go to the trail the place he’s coming. The passage continues:

He was in search of to see who Jesus was, however on account of the gang he couldn’t, as a result of he was small in stature. So he ran on forward and climbed up right into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to move that means. (Luke 19:3–4)

He postured himself and positioned himself alongside the trail the place the grace was passing. Then it says:

And when Jesus got here to the place, he seemed up and mentioned to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and are available down, for I have to keep at your home in the present day.” So he hurried and got here down and obtained him joyfully. (Luke 19:5–6)

He positioned himself to obtain the grace because it got here. Right here’s a citation from Jonathan Edwards:

Individuals needn’t and ought to not set any bounds to their religious and gracious appetites.

Your needs for God, your holy needs for the one who made you and confirmed you himself in his Son, and rescued you, it is advisable put no bounds on these appetites. We have to put bounds on numerous earthly appetites, and but in our religious appetites for Jesus and for God, put no bounds on them. Edwards continues on how you can pursue it:

Somewhat, they should be endeavoring by all potential methods to inflame their needs and acquire extra religious pleasures.

That’s what we’re after in technique of grace. These aren’t mere duties to test the field, as if to say, “You have to do that.” We need to inflame need and acquire extra holy, religious pleasure. And Edward continues on to say, “Endeavor to advertise religious appetites by laying your self in the way in which of allurement.”

Due to the character of our God as a God of grace, and since he has given us his typical patterns, his appointed technique of grace, the counsel is, “Do you need to know him? Do you need to take pleasure in him? Do you need to improve your religious pleasure? Lay your self alongside these paths. Know what the paths are, after which domesticate habits of life that put you alongside these paths.”

The Lifeline of the Early Church

Right here’s an instance within the early church. That is Acts 2:42–47. What an incredible second. It’s just like the honeymoon second of the native church earlier than issues get actually unhealthy with rising persecution.

They devoted themselves (recurring language) to the apostles’ instructing and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

The apostles had been instructing the phrase, folks had been praying, and folks had been devoting themselves to the fellowship. In that context, there was the breaking of bread, which most likely meant consuming collectively. And in that consuming collectively, they had been taking the Lord’s supper collectively as properly. We wish this, and folks need this. That is thrilling:

And awe came across each soul, and lots of wonders and indicators had been being accomplished via the apostles. And all who believed had been collectively and had all issues in widespread. They usually had been promoting their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had want. And daily, attending the temple collectively and breaking bread of their properties, they obtained their meals with glad and beneficiant hearts, praising God and having favor with all of the folks. And the Lord added to their quantity daily those that had been being saved. (Acts 2:43–47)

All of us need this impact, however do we would like the technique of grace? The surprise, the indicators, the generosity, the sharing, and the including to their quantity comes out of Acts 2:42. That is their patterns, their habits, and their devotion. It’s the apostles’ instructing, the fellowship, and the prayers.

Historic Confessions and the Technique of Grace

I’ll skip via this, however I simply need to point out meaning had such an essential basis within the Reformed and Baptistic confessions for hundreds of years. For this reason Packer referred to the basic Protestant doctrine of the technique of grace. The language of “means” comes time and again within the New Hampshire Confession of 1833, which is a Baptist confession. It’s used time and again. It additionally goes again to Westminster and the Belgic Confession, which is sort of 100 years earlier than Westminster. It talks about “our gracious God” — be sure that to solid him when it comes to grace — who “nourishes and strengthens our religion via the means the place he works by the facility of the Holy Spirit.” And Jesus Christ is offered because the true object of them.

The Canons of Dort from 1619 refers to means time and again, and the Westminster Confession of Religion in 1648. Many times it speaks of “the usage of means.” And so, we come again to Acts 2:42, the place they devoted themselves to the apostles’ instructing, the fellowship, and the breaking of bread, and the prayers. These are a method of God’s ongoing grace.

Hear His Voice, Have His Ear, Belong to His Physique

So right here’s how I summarize them. That is what we’ll be doing within the sermon tonight and tomorrow. How will we put ourselves, how will we place ourselves alongside the trail of God’s grace? Primary, we hear his voice in his phrase. Quantity two, we’ve got his ear in prayer. Quantity three, we belong to his physique within the fellowship of the native church.

The rationale I’m placing them in these phrases is that I need to seize the private nature of the Christian life, the private nature of a relationship with God in Christ. We shouldn’t consider phrase, prayer, and fellowship as merely issues, however facets of relationship with God and with one another. So we hear his voice. You’ll see within the sermon right here, I’m not going to accent listening to his voice other than his phrase. The voice that’s in your head is you. Do you need to hear God communicate? Open the e-book, hear the e-book, and listen to him communicate by the facility of the Spirit in his e-book. I’ve to cease myself earlier than I get into the sermon.

Then have his ear in prayer. It’s superb that we’ve got the ear of God Almighty. The truth that he revealed himself is superb, however much more the truth that he stops, and stoops, and listens, and says, “I need to hear your response to my phrase.” It’s such a privilege we’ve got in prayer that we’ll linger it over tomorrow night time.

After which we belong to his physique. We’re technique of grace to one another within the physique of Christ. Specifically, I’m going to linger in Hebrews. The sermon this morning will likely be Hebrews, and these would be the texts that I’ll use within the sermon. You may discuss having his ear in Hebrews via these two massive exhortation passages that parallel one another. Would you like a pleasant Bible examine? Take Hebrews 4:14–16 and Hebrews 10:19–23 and work via them collectively and see the connections, and be drawn into prayer. After which the primary focus for tonight earlier than we discuss in regards to the Lord’s Supper will likely be to have a look at Hebrews 10 and Hebrews 3 about being technique of grace for one another.

Habits of Grace

Let me end shortly with this. I informed you the final two factors are very transient. That is about our numerous habits of grace. What’s a behavior? It’s sort of a unfavorable phrase. There’s been a sort of revival of the language and it’s turning into extra constructive. Folks discuss behavior formation.

There have been two books that had been highly regarded to assist result in this concept of habits and faucet the neuroscience of behavior formation, which is basically new within the final era since MRIs had been obtainable. I imply, neuroscience has been enormous within the final 25 years, and behavior formation has been a part of these discoveries. Habits, scientists say, emerge as a result of the mind is continually searching for methods to save lots of effort. Left to its personal units, the mind will attempt to make nearly any routine right into a behavior as a result of habits permit our minds to ramp down extra typically.

Now, listed below are a few issues which are essential in religious life associated to that. I’ll summarize it in a second. The actual key to habits is decision-making, and extra precisely, the dearth of decision-making. A part of this in making an attempt to domesticate habits in our Christian life is to not drain down the facility of decision-making that we could possibly be placing towards God’s phrase, and prayer, and fellowship, and in addition not undergo making the choice time and again in order that generally you determine to not make it. And then you definitely select different much less useful issues than his phrase, prayer, and fellowship of their correct proportions and patterns.

Right here’s a abstract: Habits free our focus to present consideration and be extra absolutely conscious within the second. Habits shield what’s most essential; that’s, they preserve us persevering within the religion. And habits are individual particular. I’m not making an attempt to put on you Saul’s armor, as if to say, “Right here’s how I do my devotions and right here’s how I pray. And right here’s the patterns of Cities Church, and you must do the identical ones.” This isn’t Saul’s armor. You’re not imagined to have someone else’s armor on, however you possibly can develop these in your season of life along with your bent. After which, habits are additionally pushed by need and reward. Habits are fashioned since you are being rewarded in a roundabout way. You don’t type habits when there’s no reward, and all of the extra within the Christian life.

The Finish of the Means

So we finish the morning session right here with the tip of the means. I need to put textual content with this. I don’t need to simply say, “Jesus is the tip, Jesus is the tip.” Let’s put two texts on it, amongst others. We’re speaking about means right here. Means are means to some finish. That is the tip:

And that is everlasting life, that they know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you’ve despatched. (John 17:3)

That’s the essence of everlasting life, figuring out the Father and the Son in him. And in our technique of grace, we need to transfer towards that nice finish. That’s the objective. That’s the reward that will inform and domesticate our habits.

In Philippians 3:7–8, the apostle Paul says:

However no matter achieve I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Certainly, I depend every part as loss due to the surpassing price of figuring out Christ Jesus my Lord.

So brothers and sisters, in speaking about these religious disciplines (the technique of grace) this morning, this night, and tomorrow night time, that is what we’re pursuing. It’s the surpassing worth of Christ. It’s not the worth of accomplishment, nor the worth of feeling good about myself, nor checking bins, nor the worth of doing what someone else informed me to do, however the surpassing worth of figuring out Christ Jesus my Lord via his phrase, via a relationship with him in prayer the place I reply to him based mostly on who he’s revealed himself to be, and doing so within the physique of Christ, within the covenanted native church group the place we’re technique of grace to one another, in order that we all know extra of Jesus in and thru one another.

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