- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2000

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Elden Moats at Temple Baptist Church in the District of Columbia.

A mark of Christianity is its magnification of grace. It stands like a tower over the pages of Scripture, and arches across the word of God like a great theme. The definition of grace as "unmerited favor" falls far short. Grace is all that God gives us to live for Him and do His will.
We need grace to live a life pleasing to God, to handle its bruises and tragedies, and to respond the right way, right down to how you respond to that aggressive driver who cuts you off.
In our text [Hebrews 4:14-16], there are two truths about God's grace: It is available to us, and it is sufficient for us. For something to be useful to us, it has to be available. If you're building a project and the hammer is way over there, what good is it?
This part of Hebrews speaks of the priestly role of Christ. It says, "Let us come boldly near to the throne of grace." Boldly means fearless confidence. The writer is saying, "Don't be timid when it comes to the grace of God." In ancient times, only the officials or top advisers could approach the throne of kings, but ordinary folks could not. So we see the contrast. God invites all to find grace in Jesus Christ, the high priest.
In the Greek, the words mean a continuous action. "Keep on coming to the throne of grace." Don't come one day, and then stay away for weeks. Think of the person who got a notice from the bank. "Your check has bounced. Insufficient funds." It can be very distressing, as you might know.
Now, think how different it is with God's grace. There is always an ample supply. God is not stingy with His grace. He is not like us, when we horde our treasures. Through Jesus Christ, God continually pours out His grace, as Hebrews says, "in time of need."
You may ask, "Is God's grace sufficient for my needs?" Or, do I have to go to another workshop or seminar? Do I need to read another book and hear another sermon? It is a question we must confront in our hearts. When the moments of despair and frustration come, and when we don't know which way to turn, is God's grace sufficient?
The Scripture says when you come to the throne of grace, "you will find help." It says you will come upon grace, you will meet grace. Paul discovered that when the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness" [2 Corinthians 12:7]. As a result, Paul would "rather boast in my infirmity, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." In weakness, he learned about prayer and grace. It is when we are weak that God puts out a big banner, "My grace comes out in human weaknesses."
That's where God's grace is exalted. Our weakness comes out when our human capability wrestles with the problems of life. God loves to see His grace manifest. It comes when we say, "God, I'm insufficient to handle this aspect of my life." God waits for that moment, for then He can show everybody His grace, put on display through our weaknesses… .
This week, a mighty Russian submarine, the pride of the fleet, tragically sank to the depths, to an icy, cold grave. What keeps you from sinking to a dark depth of despair? What keeps your life afloat? Do you have a secret reservoir that you draw upon? Does your knowledge, intellect or your spirituality keep you from sinking? What keeps you from sinking when catastrophe hits? When you lose someone in a sudden accident. When family is breaking apart. It is the grace of God that keeps you afloat, and only the grace of God… .
There must be some power greater than what you and I can generate. When Jesus said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you," I believe Jesus meant that. Paul understood, and it changed his life. The writer of Hebrews urges us to come boldly to this grace in our times of need.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. David Sparrow at Lee Memorial AME Church in Kensington, Md.

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