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By Jack Wellman

There are many great natural sermon illustrations. Jesus used natural illustrations in giving examples of the gospel or the kingdom of God. Here are five great sermon illustrations on grace that you might want to consider adding to your toolbox.

1. Grace is…

I love the acrostic for grace: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. That is spot on. God’s grace could be defined as this: God gives us what we don’t deserve. Mercy could be defined as this: God doesn’t give us what we do deserve. We are saved by grace and not by works (Eph 2:8-9) and that’s why the gospel is such good news because if we had to depend upon works, none of us could make it and none of us could ever be sure if we’d done enough good works to be saved. That’s why messages on grace are so powerful and effective in proclaiming the gospel of redemption through Jesus Christ and why every message should include repentance, confession, faith in Christ, all made possible by the grace of God. There is never anything that we could ever do to earn it, otherwise it wouldn’t be grace! God’s grace was the most expensive thing that has ever been paid for and it was paid for by Jesus’ own life. It was free for us but it was of the utmost expense to God. What we could have never afforded to buy came to us completely free because He paid a debt He did not owe for a debt we could not pay.

2. Happy Birthday

The older I get the less I like birthdays because they seem to be coming at an ever-increasing rate. I suppose I should be happy that I made it this far but grace being like a birthday gift is a great illustration of the grace of God. Jesus said that we must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3-7) but the best translation is that we must be “born from above” as the Greek indicates. If we are “born from above” then can we boast about it? Of course not, any more than we can brag about our natural birth. We had nothing to do with it. Did we plan when we would be born? Did we plan where we would be born? Did we plan who our parents would be? No, this was beyond our reach or ability to control and so too is the way in which a person is born again. We are born from above which is brought about by the God “from above.” There is not one thing that we did or anything that we could ever do to cause our being born again any more than we could have talked our parents into having us be born. The only thing we contribute is that we must choose to repent and trust in Christ but we can’t even come to Jesus unless the Father draws us (John 6:44). That is why grace simply amazing.

Preach grace as often as you can, as much as you can, for as much of the glory of God as you can.

3. Raising Lazarus

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, what did Lazarus contribute to it? The answer is nothing! Jesus didn’t go into Lazarus’ tomb and ask Lazarus to contribute to his being raised. Jesus didn’t say, “Okay Lazarus, if you move a finger, I’ll do the rest. If you blink your eye, that’ll show me that you really want to be raised from the dead. If you really, really want to be raised from the dead, at least do something!” No! Lazarus had nothing to do with having himself raised from dead. Paul reminds us that you were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1) and “even when we were dead in our trespasses [He] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:5). Yes, “you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:13-14). We were made alive; we were raised from the dead that sins had wrought on us. God is the One Who made us alive. Salvation is fully a work of God thereby giving Him the glory and it was “not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:9). If it was by our own efforts, knowing human nature…knowing my nature, I would boast and I would imagine that you would too.

4. Jonathan’s Son, Mephibosheth

When David became King over all of Israel, David inquired about any of Jonathan’s family because David loved Jonathan. Jonathan had been killed but David wanted to know if there were any of his relatives that were left alive. There was one and “Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth” (2 Sam 4:4). So David summoned Mephibosheth and he “came to David and fell on his face and prostrated himself. And David said, ‘Mephibosheth.’ And he said, ‘Here is your servant’ And David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always’” (2 Sam 9:6-7). In true humility Mephibosheth said “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I? Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson” (2 Sam 9:8). David told Mephibosheth’s servant, “And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table. Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons” (2 Sam 9:10-11) “And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet” (2 Sam 9:13).

That is grace. Mephibosheth did nothing to deserve this graciousness. Like Mephibosheth, we came crippled, on our face, before the king bringing nothing to the king’s table. Mephibosheth, like we, can be at the King of king’s table. We shall have all the bread we need even though we were nothing more than a “dead dog.” We have no need to fear when we come to the King. Like Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba, the land that belonged to Saul is given to us…the land will produce and provide for us. We were all disabled by sin, we were all “dead dogs,” we all brought nothing to the King’s table, yet we, like Mephibosheth, can eat at the king’s table and be “like one of the king’s sons.” That is grace to the nth degree.

5. Seeing You as He Sees Jesus

One of the most remarkable doctrines of the Bible is that we can have Jesus’ righteousness imputed toward us because it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). It was “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins” (Rom 3:22-25). After a person repents and places their trust in Christ, they receive grace and then they are “justified by his grace as a gift” through the costly “redemption that is in Christ…by his blood” and this was done “to show God’s righteousness” because “he had passed over former sins.” Let’s see just how much we contributed to this: the universal sign of nothing is “0.” When God now looks at us, He doesn’t see the sinful, wicked, wretched sinner but He sees the righteousness of Christ. Again, this is all a work of God.

Conclusion

Preach grace as often as you can, as much as you can, for as much of the glory of God as you can because that’s what grace is. It is unmerited favor at Christ’s expense. It’s what He gives us that we do not deserve, nor can ever deserve, or can ever earn. That’s why grace is so amazing.

Something else for you to read: Walking and Creativity

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

3 Responses

  1. J Rogan

    Homily on Grace Eph 2:8-9 verse 9 reads, ‘not because of works’ rather than – not by works – as stated in the homily. Verse Eph 2:10 reads, ‘For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’.

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