Friday, November 18, 2011

An Old Sermon Outline Inspired by John Piper - 2002

“A Debtor’s Ethic”
Rev. Russell A. Kinney
Sunday, August 11, 2002
Altoona Assembly of God -

Text: Ephesians 2:1-10 (Read text – NLT) vv. 4-5 “…(4) But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, (5) that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!)…”

Subtext: Romans 5:6-11 (Read text – NLT) vv. 6,8 “…(6) When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners… (8) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners…”

When the day came for us to purchase a home in Davenport we were given by the lender a copy of an amortization table. On this document was a listing of a certain amount of payments. Each payment line on the document showed how much money was applied to the interest as well as the principle.

Over the course of many years the debt that we owed would be incrementally paid off, so as to eventually be debt free. We would eventually owe the lender nothing and we would receive a warranty deed that was stamped and documented as paid in full. This indeed is the goal of every homeowner.

But as one looks at this schedule of payments one needs to ponder the fact that often we approach God and what he has done for us as if we owed him something.

Now granted, I really do owe him everything that I am and that I have, because He did indeed pay a debt that I could never have paid. But even so, we frequently error in our understanding of His grace toward us.

A Debtor’s Ethic
This morning I would like to speak with you about the problem of “A Debtor’s Ethic”.
When each of us applies for credit, when we purchase on credit, when we get phone or utility service in our name, or even when a piece of real estate is purchased… We are promising by our word, our signature and by our past history that we will be faithful to repay the debt in full. And this is proper and right. None of us would dispute the proper ethic of this type of repayment. As a matter of fact we would consider it unethical and even immoral when debts go slothfully unpaid.

But what about what God has done for us? All too often we fetter ourselves with “A Debtor’s Ethic” because we believe somehow that we are obligated to repay God for what he has done. When God saved us, he entered into the realm of our lives and paid the spiritual and eternal debts caused by our sin. Indeed, God did us an immeasurable favor.
And in the world we live, there is a natural inclination to payback to someone a like favor in kind. These patterns are not bad, as long as we don’t apply them to God and what he has done for us… by faith through grace.

To Nullify Grace…
As far fetched as it sounds, if for any reason we find ourselves in the posture or mindset to “repay” God with good behavior or our righteousness, we are sorely mistaken. We run the risk of nullifying the grace that He has already extended to us, as well as the grace that He sends us daily. If we, by default and cause of the world around us try to payback God for the good He has shown us and done for us, we make THE GIFT OF GRACE AND MERCY to be a transaction of debt and repayment. It is NO LONGER A GIFT, BUT SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE PURCHASE BY OUR REPAYMENT SCHEDULE OF GOOD DEEDS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!
If in anyway this pattern exists in us, we must renounce it and reclaim the free gift of God’s grace shown toward us while we were still sinners.

Three Ways to Avoid a Debtor’s Ethic
Turn in your Bible to Ephesians 2:1-10. Follow along as we discover the three ways to avoid a debtor’s ethic.

1. REALIZE YOU “WERE” DEAD IN SIN – vv. Eph. 2:1-3
• Spiritually Dead
• Doomed Forever
• Full of Sin
• Obedient to Satan
• Followed Evil Desires and Passions
• Born with an Evil Nature
• Under God’s Wrath and Anger

2. REALIZE GOD “IS” RICH IN MERCY – vv. Eph. 2:4-7
• God Loves Us
• God Gives Life to the Dead
• God Has Special Favor Toward Us
• God Gave Us a Special Place with Christ (because of Christ)
• God Uses Us As Examples of His Favor and Kindness

• God Saved You
• All You Did Was Believe
• No Credit is Extended to You
• God Gave You a Gift
• Salvation is Not a Reward
• None of Us Can Boast

Now let’s look at a few other passages of scripture to affirm and confirm the above truths.

Romans 5:6-9 “…We were utterly helpless…”
Colossians 2:6-23 “…And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus…”

The bottom line is that we can never go back to living in a DEBTOR’S ETHIC… We cannot ever repay what Christ did for us. We can simply live by FAITH in what he HAS DONE on the cross and what He IS DOING AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO. Since we are saved by GRACE, through faith, then my friends we are kept by GRACE through faith.
I cannot merit more of His grace for today or tomorrow. I can only by faith accept more and more of his grace.

Bow your heads with me…

1. REALIZE YOU “WERE” DEAD IN SIN – vv. Eph. 2:1-3
2. REALIZE GOD “IS” RICH IN MERCY – vv. Eph. 2:4-7

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