WELCOME to Harvest Church – Week 4 Part One

This past weekend we wrapped up our four week series that introduced Harvest Church! Here is the manuscript for, WELCOME to Harvest Church, What We Believe About Grace and Salvation, Week 4.

Can We Really Get Something for Nothing…
Can we really get something for nothing? Everyone wants free stuff right? Free stuff is good. We love free stuff. But does anything really come, FREE?

Three weeks ago, I received in the mail a postcard for a free coffee drink at Starbucks. Any drink, any size. FREE. It was a great mail day! It didn’t matter how bills came in, I had my free drink card at Starbucks. So I made a plan, later that week I would use the card to get a coffee while finishing up that weekends message for Harvest. The day came. I packed up my bag, with my free, any size, any drink Starbucks postcard, and I was off! I spent the first 5 or so hours in the office at the church working on things for St. Paul’s. Meanwhile, in the back of my mind all I could think about was, “Starbucks. Coffee. Free. Hmm.”

The time finally came. Starbucks. I packed up my “mobile office” made my way for the car and then Starbucks. I pulled into the lot, found a parking spot and turned off the car. Now I didn’t want to take my entire bag into the store, so I grabbed only what I needed. The laptop. My Bible. My iPad. A scratch pad with some notes on it. And my free drink card.

Wait, where was my free drink card? It’s not here. I emptied the bag. Searched the car. Went through the usually pockets and places I put things. The card was no where to be found. After about five minutes, it was clear, the card was not in my bag. You know that feeling when you look forward to doing something, something special, and it doesn’t happen? Yeah, I was disappointed. I was like a kid on Christmas morning with nothing under the tree but socks, underwear, and a sweater. But it was okay, there would be another day, another time. I just had to find that card.

A couple days passed. I looked everywhere I could think. No card. But then, this past weekend, a blessing from heaven. I found the card. Right here, as we were setting up and getting ready for worship. I grabbed my bible and out from under the cover flew my gift card. If that is not a blessing from God, I don’t know what is. Free coffee coming from my Bible. Truly God was sending me a message. So Monday morning I was in Starbucks, sipping on my free, venti, white chocolate mocha and typing out this weekends message. God really is GOOD!

But as I sat there enjoying the sweet, hot, taste of Monday morning pleasure, I started thinking. This drink really wasn’t free. I earned this treat. You see, I’m a Gold Card Member at Starbucks. That basically means, I drink too much Starbucks coffee. But as a Gold Card Member, if you purchase 15 drinks, your earn a free, any drink, any size, postcard from Starbucks. But right there on the front of the card it says, FREE!!! The reality is, it cost me something to get the card. 15 stars, earned by purchasing 15 grande drinks at $4.25 a pop, plus tax. $63.75 plus taxes, paid out over about 8 to 9 months, because thats how long it takes me to actually get enough extra money to be able to treat myself to a Starbucks coffee. This coffee wasn’t free. I earned this pleasure. It was my hard earned money that purchased the right to step up to the counter and say, “I’d like a venti, white chocolate mocha, thank you.”

But the reality is that the treat isn’t totally free. And that seems to be the way things are today. Companies market free this and free that with the caveat that says, you first have to buy this, or spend that, or earn bonus points by shopping their products. There is almost always something that we have to do to get something free. Something for nothing that just doesn’t happen. And people know that.

I was reminded of our day at the trail passing out waters. People couldn’t believe we were giving out free bottles of water. They thought for sure we were selling them, they couldn’t possibly be free. But they were, in a way. Because we did want something from them, didn’t we. We wanted them to know about Harvest and to come and visit with us.

So is nothing absolutely free?

WELCOME to Harvest Church…
Tonight we wrap up our series, WELCOME to Harvest Church. Over the last 3 weeks we’ve looked at the Faith Essentials of Harvest, 7 statements that present our beliefs, position and understanding of what we believe our foundational, non-negotiable
beliefs must be. In other words, this is what we believe the bible says about important theological and doctrinal ideas such as…
– who we believe God to be
– who we believe Jesus to be
– who we believe the Holy Spirit to be
– what we believe the bible is, and
– what we believe the church is.

So tonight we’ll look at the final 2 statements concerning grace and salvation; 2 extremely important topics that in many ways significantly defines our theology.

Like last week, I’m not going to dissect all that is composed in these statements. To do so would require a little more time. So instead, I want us to look at the statements and talk briefly about what we are trying to express.

What We Believe About Grace…
When it comes to free things, Grace is one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever hope to be given. Grace is, favor, divine favor. Spiritually speaking, Grace is God’s favor. Specifically, grace is; God’s free and unmerited favor for sinful humanity.

There are some keywords in that definition.
FREE: not hard to define that. What God gives is free. 100%, no strings attached. FREE!
UNMERITED: Merit is deserving of reward. Unmerited is undeserving of a reward. In other words, God is giving his FREE gift to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
What is the gift?
FAVOR: is ones kindness, a gracious act, a gift. God is giving his FAVOR, FREELY, to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Who is the someone?
SINFUL HUMANITY: us. God’s gifts is for us!

Ephesians 2, helps to explain this for us. The apostle Paul writes and says, that we were all dead because of our sins. The disobedience in our lives condemned us to a spiritual death. We gave into our wants and the pressures and the leadings of the world. But Paul says in verse 4, [that] “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in [our sins] – it is by GRACE [God’s GRACE] you have been saved.”

Where we willfully stepped away from God, God has said, let me come to you, let me do this for you. What exactly does God do? He sends his son to die that spiritual death that we originally incurred.

In verse 8, Paul says that it is by GRACE [that we have] been saved… not from [or by ourselves but], it is the gift of God- not by works [not by what we can do], so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8&9.

We believe that being “SAVED” is a result of what God does for us. He saves us through his GRACE. So we say this…

Grace is the gift of eternal life to people to whom God has chosen to extend His favor. Through one man, Adam, sin entered this world, infecting all mankind, separating us from the Father. Through one man, Jesus, sin’s curse was broken, freeing mankind from the certain death that sin required. It is God who sacrificed His one and only Son, Jesus, a perfect life lived in submission and obedience. Through this act of obedience, the debt for all mankind’s sin was reconciled and paid in full. This is a gift freely given of God, not attainable by any effort or work of man, that comes only through Jesus Christ who died for the salvation of the world.

The bottom line is, praise God that he has chosen to do something as spectacular as giving us his undeserved favor.

– jay

*This was an excerpt from Jay’s week 4 message at Harvest Church on Saturday, June 09. This is one of two posts that will make the full length message. To learn about Harvest Church, visit our website at; www.HarvestChurchToday.org.

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