Sermon for 101021
Text: 1 John 4:7-10
Theme: “Grace Alone”
*In the Name of the Father…Amen. The sermon text for this morning come from
1 John, chapter 4, starting at verse 7: *(7) Beloved, let us love one
another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and
(8) Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(9) In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his
only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
(10) In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and
sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
*This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. *
*Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray: *566 By Grace I’m Saved
By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul, believe and doubt it not.
Why stagger at this word of promise?
Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?
No! Then this word must true remain:
By grace you too will life obtain.
By grace! None dare lay claim to merit;
Our works and conduct have no worth.
God in His love sent our Redeemer,
Christ Jesus, to this sinful earth;
His death did for our sins atone,
And we are saved by grace alone.
* Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. *
§ *God is love. *
ØJust about everybody agrees that God is love, if they believe in God at
ØWe as Lutherans have many slogans: *Grace Alone!*
Ø“Grace” in this case means undeserved love.
ØGod loves us even though we haven’t done a thing to earn it.
ØGod is love.
§ *It is this “grace alone” we focus on this morning.*
* However, our love is often very wimpy. *We have some false
ideas about God’s love that keep us from receiving it and responding to it.
We tend to think about God as if he were just like us.
This is natural; all of us tend to project our own
characteristics on others.
For example, if someone is dishonest, he has a tendency to
think that most people are dishonest.
If someone is selfish, he figures that everyone else is, too.
So when we think about God, we figure that his love is the same
as our love.
However, if God’s love is like the light, our own love is like
the darkness in comparison.
God’s love is deep and high. It surpasses all understanding.
We need to ditch our misconceptions about God’s love and start
to open our eyes to the reality.
*False Idea # 1: If I am Good, God Will Love Me, but if I am Bad, God will
Hate Me *The first misconception is one we often learn when we are
We think that God’s love depends on our good behavior.
If I am good, then God will love me.
If I am bad, God will hate me.
This is a natural way of thinking.
We ourselves love people who treat us well and hate people who treat us
There’s a bumper sticker that reads, “May God give you a double portion of
what you wish me.”
If a loved one hurts us badly, in just a moment all our love can turn into
resentment and bitterness.
*God, however, is different. *God loves us when we are good and also when
we are bad.
Of course, God detests sin, that is, when we do wrong or hurt others.
However, even while God hates sin, he still *loves* those who have fallen
into that wrongdoing.
His deepest desire is that the sinner abandon his ways and turn back to the
Lord – back to his love.
*John 13:1 says, It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the
time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having
loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the last. *God’s love
has no end.
It doesn’t change.
Jesus knew that on that very evening, his disciples would all abandon him.
Peter would swear that he didn’t know Jesus.
Judas would betray him with a kiss.
Nevertheless, Jesus *loved them to the last.*
This incredible love broke Peter’s heart and when he realized what he had
done, Peter wept bitterly and later received Jesus’ forgiveness.
This incredible love should have broken Judas’ heart also. Instead, he took
his own life.
• *Jeremiah 31:3 says, I have loved you with an everlasting
God’s love never ends.
You can’t get to hell unless you run roughshod over God’s love in order to
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son for us.
But many people prefer to go their own way and turn their backs to God and
to his love in Jesus Christ.
That’s why hell is such a terrible thing to think about, because it is the
absence of God’s loving presence, and you can only get there by rejecting
God and his love.
• *As you look at your life, do you sometimes wonder if God could
really love you?*
You think about all those times when you’ve messed up,
when you said things you shouldn’t have,
when your thoughts were not very Christian,
when you did something you regret,
when you failed to do something you knew you should.
Do you wonder if you’ve been good enough for God to love you?
Do you wonder if you’ve been good enough to get to heaven?
*If you wonder, just think about the cross for a moment. *That is the proof
that God loves you, just as you are.
God forgives you.
Because of Jesus, he wipes away whatever you have done wrong.
*Isaiah 38:17 says, You have put all my sins behind your back.*
How can anyone reach our sins if God has thrown them behind his back?
If God has made us clean, how can the devil accuse us of doing wrong?
The devil might be able to get behind *my* back, but not *God’s* back.
*And then there’s that little word “all” – all my sins are behind God’s
back! *Suppose someone speaks lies about me seven times; but later he
regrets what he did and he asks me to forgive him.
Suppose I were to say, “I can pass over 6 of those lies, but the seventh
was just too horrible, and I can’t forgive you that one.”
That wouldn’t help that person at all.
However, God forgives *everything*.
So God is not like us.
He doesn’t love us only when we’re good.
On the contrary, he loves us in spite of our wrongdoing.
He wants to forgive us. God loves us, simply because God is love.
*II. False Idea # 2: If God Loved Me, I Wouldn’t Have So Many Problems *In
the second place, we often falsely assume that God doesn’t love us because
we have to deal with problems and difficulties.
Again, we tend to think that God is just like us.
We ourselves tend to pay good with good and bad with bad.
So we think that if God allows something bad to happen to us, it must be
because he is mad at us for some reason.
• *That’s simply not true*.
*In John 15:9, Jesus says, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.*
God loves us with the same love that exists between the Father and Jesus
Jesus had plenty of problems when he walked the earth – in fact, he
suffered a horrible and messy death on the cross.
That didn’t mean that the Father didn’t love Jesus.
*Bad things happen, not because God doesn’t love us, but because we live in
a sinful, corrupt world. *Sin has twisted just about everything around us.
Jesus willingly suffered hatred, pain, and even death because he wanted to
save people who are lost in this terrible situation.
And we, who are followers of Jesus, have been sent into this twisted world
to show Jesus’ love and to tell about Jesus’ love, so that more people can
come to trust in Jesus and have forgiveness and eternal life.
We know that we are going to have problems along the way.
But God is with us.
And even when things look terrible, God loves us so much that he even works
good out of the bad things that happen. (Romans 8:28)
*Sometimes, God permits bad things to happen in order to wake us up. *When
a person has good health, lots of money, and everything is going well,
often they forget about God.
Sometimes we need to be brought up short.
Even death itself can be an opportunity for God to wake someone up.
*Other times, God permits bad things to happen in order to discipline us. *As
a father, I sometimes had to discipline my children.
I didn’t like to scold them or have them suffer certain consequences.
However, I did have to set and enforce limits.
My children needed to learn good behavior.
If I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t care if they behaved well or not.
But since I do love them, I do care.
Sometimes God does the same with us.
*Other times, God permits bad things to happen so that we grow in faith and
show his love, and especially so that we glorify God’s name in the midst of
trouble, so that other people may come to know his love. *However, no
matter what happens in our lives, we know that God love us.
*1 Corinthians 8:3 says, The man who loves God is known by God. *God knows
everything about us.
He knows our names, our addresses, what we are like, what we are doing.
The Bible says that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God
noticing; but we are worth a lot more than sparrows!
The Bible says that God even has numbered the hairs of our heads.
There are many parents who dearly love their children, but none of them has
so much love that they have counted the hairs on their children’s heads.
God knows our situation, and he loves us.
*So if you are going through a hard time, if might be for different
reasons. *But it’s not because God doesn’t love you.
His love never fails.
He knows what we’re going through and he is there with us.
*III. False Idea # 3: If God is Love, I Can Do Whatever I Please *Again,
God is love.
God loves us even though we don’t deserve it, and he loves us even when we
go through hard times.
Does that mean that we can just do whatever we want?
Are there no consequences when we do what is wrong?
Sometimes we act as if that were the case.
With our lips we affirm, “Yes, God is love,” but where is that love in our
What difference does God’s love make?
If we really know that God is love, then where is our response to that love?
*1 John 4:11 says, Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to
love one another. *God’s love changes lives.
God’s love awakens our love.
You simply can’t really and truly open your eyes to God’s incredible love,
and then just go back to the same old sinful ways.
When you plug in a lamp, all of a sudden you have light where once there
was only darkness.
When you connect the gas line or plug the electrical cord into the outlet
of your stove, all of a sudden you’re cooking!
When you connect with God’s love, all of a sudden you yourself are loving!
• *There’s an old movie around titled, From Fury to Freedom. It
tells the true story of a young man named Raul who went around nursing
bitterness in his heart.*
In Raul’s home, his father drank and would hit his mother.
Raul hated his father for hurting his mother, and he hated his mother for
accepting that situation.
In turn, Raul went around picking fights with everyone.
After he got married, he himself began to beat up his wife and his
In the end, full of hate, Raul sat down at home with a shotgun to wait for
his family, planning to kill them all and then kill himself.
However, while he waited, he happened to turn on the television and tune in
to a TV preacher.
The preacher happened to be speaking about God’s love.
*That is how God’s love works. *
The love of God changes our lives.
If you feel far from God or if you are nursing resentment towards someone
else, then focus on God’s love.
Grab your Bible and read about Jesus’ love and forgiveness.
If you try to do it yourself, if you say, “I’ll try real hard,” you
probably won’t succeed in changing your ways very much.
But when we focus on the incredible, undeserved love that God has for us,
loving others suddenly becomes much easier.
To err is human; to forgive is divine.
The more divine love you have in your life, the more you will be able to
*During the time of Luther, most people in Europe thought about God as a
grumpy old guy up in heaven, angry, quick to punish people if they got out
Luther himself despaired because he felt that God was angry with him.
He tried to do good to pay for his sins, but he never felt that he was good
However, as Luther prepared Bible classes at the university, he discovered
God’s incredible love.
He came to understand that God wanted to forgive him through Jesus Christ.
This love of God transformed Luther’s life and the lives of multitudes of
people in the Reformation.
This love can change our lives as well.
*The truth is that God’s love is not like our love. *God loves us in spite
of the sins we have committed.
He loves us even when bad things happen.
His love can warm our hearts so that we love others – even others who have
God *is* love and love is of God and comes from God!
God help us to see how wide and long and high and deep his love is, so that
we can say from the heart, with all Lutherans: *Grace alone!*
Let us pray:
By grace to timid hearts that tremble,
In tribulation’s furnace tried,
By grace, in spite of fear and trouble,
The Father’s heart is open wide.
Where could I help and strength secure
If grace were not my anchor sure?
By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying;
In Jesus’ promise I rejoice;
For though I know my heart’s condition,
I also know my Savior’s voice.
My heart is glad, all grief has flown
Since I am saved by grace alone. Amen.