Sermon Illustrations: Grace
James Berry (1852-1913) was an English hangman for eight years in which time killed 134 men and women. His profession took its toll on him and he became a heavy drinker and constantly irritable. Aged 52, while sitting at station, a young man walked up to him and started to talk to him. He invited Berry to the mission hall where he gave his life to the Lord. Berry became an evangelist till he died aged 61.1
Heaven's Entrance Exam: A man died and went to heaven. Of course, St. Peter met him at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter said, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in." "Okay," the man said. "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart." "That's wonderful," said St. Peter. "That's worth three points!" "Three points?" said the man. "Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithes and service." "Terrific!" said St. Peter. "That's certainly worth a point." "One point?!! Well, I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans." "Fantastic, that's good for two more points," said Peter. "Two points!" the man cried. "At this rate the only way I'll get into heaven is by the grace of God." "Bingo, 100 points! Come on in."
There could have been up to 80,000 people in the World Trade Centre when the terrorists struck, but there weren't. The planes were only 20% filled, and the Pentagon had just been strengthened. So, was it God's judgment or was it really God's grace, when so many more people could have been killed?
A little girl got saved and applied for membership to a church. "Were you a sinner?" she was asked. "Yes," she replied. "Are you still a sinner?" "Yes." "Then what real changes have taken place in your life?" "The best way I can explain," said the little girl, "is that I used to be a sinner running after sin, but now I'm a sinner running away from sin."
A man went looking at real estate. The current owners realised that the property didn't look that good and assured him that they would do it up before he took possession. "Forget it", he said. "I don't want the building. I want the site." God isn't interested in our trying to fix up the building before we come to Him. He's interested in the site. Then He can build what He wants on it.
Law says that you have to slow down to 40 km in school zones. The person under law either says, "No way!" or "Well, if I have to. I don't want to get fined." But there's a reason for the law. It's nothing to do with the police or speed traps or legislation. It's for the protection of children. If a child runs onto the road and you're doing 60 km, you'll run him down. But if you're only doing 40 km, you have a much better chance of stopping. So the law acts as a means of grace for the children.
The camp director ran the most amazing camps. They were well organised, there were games, sports and everybody had a great time, especially at the Saturday night rally. One boy, Nicky, was from a severely dysfunctional home. He disrupted everything, bullied smaller kids and swore at others. The camp director had an idea. When he shared it with his leaders, they were shocked. He called Nicky in and got him to answer honestly how many stripes of the cane he thought each of his bad deeds was worth. When they had gone through the list, it totalled 25. "You can't cane me that much," said Nicky. "It wouldn't be human." "You're right," said the camp director. "I'm not going to cane you 25, or five, or anything." The director took off his shirt and sat on a chair hugging its back. He took all 25, by which time Nicky understood the meaning of grace.
Imagine you've been sent to India to preach the Gospel. And you meet a leper. God says to you, "Embrace him, and kiss him on the cheek." You look at him and see a deformed face that's been eaten away with disease, running sores, and you think, "Lord, you've got to be kidding. I could never do that." Most of us would find that difficult. But did you know that that's what God has done for us? Only more so. See Isaiah 1:4-6
Just before Christmas Day in 1943, in WW2, Charlie Brown - a real person - was 21 years-old, and an American pilot fighting for the British. Charlie had been on a mission to bomb a factory in Germany, but they'd taken a lot of hits. Their B-17 was in a bad way. The nose was smashed, the tail section was shredded, one propeller had stopped working, holes everywhere. And to make matters worse, the compass had stopped working, and instead of heading back to the UK, they were headed deeper into enemy territory. Three of his men were seriously wounded and they were 400 km from Britain. German pilot Franz Stigler was ordered to go up and shoot them down. But when he got up there, he was stunned. He had never seen a plane in such bad condition, and he didn't have the heart to shoot them down. Instead, he signalled for them to turn around, and he escorted them all the way to the North Sea. Then he returned to Germany and told his commanding officer that he'd shot them down over the ocean. It would be 46 years till these two men would meet and that amazing act of grace would become public knowledge.
A soldier made it his practice to end each day with Bible reading and prayer. As the others gathered in the barracks and retired for the night, he'd kneel by his bunk. Some of them saw this and began to mock him. But one night the abuse went beyond words. As he bowed in prayer one soldier threw his boots and hit him in the face. The others jeered, looking for a fight, but there was no retaliation. The next morning when the boot-thrower woke up he couldn't believe what he saw. There at the foot of his bed were his boots - polished and returned. Word for Today 24-6-08
The difference between your ability and your calling is the grace of God. Mark Driscoll
The grace of God allows you to be someone you're not, and do something you can't. Mark Driscoll
Our faith is not a condition for God's giving salvation, but it is for our receiving it. Nonetheless, the act of faith (free choice) by which we receive salvation is not meritorious. It is the giver who gets the credit for the gift, not the receiver. Norman Geisler in Predestination & Free Will p80
1 Bailey, Brian Hangman p132