Following is an expert for a sermon given by Karl Barth in Basel, Switzerland on August 14, 1955. It is a powerful and concise proclamation of the gospel of God’s grace. The entire sermon can be found at the following link Saved By Grace.
“Let us hear therefore what the Bible says and what we as Christians are called to hear together: By grace you have been saved! No man can say this to himself. Neither can he say it to someone else. This can only be said by God to each one of us. It takes Jesus Christ to make this saying true. It takes the apostles to communicate it. And our gathering here as Christians to spread it among us. This is why it truly news, and very special news, the most exciting news of all, the most helpful thing also, indeed the only helpful thing.” – Karl Barth from his sermon “Saved by Grace”
In our Sunday morning education hour, the sixth through twelfth grade students have been studying the classic hymn, “Amazing Grace” by John Newton. This past Sunday, we took a look at the second verse of the song which goes as follows:
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed
The word that stood out to me in the second verse is “precious”. The definition of the adjective precious is “of high price or great value; very valuable or costly”. We can add Grace to precious and get the term precious Grace. Precious Grace could be defined as the gift of Grace from God that is of great value and costly. The question then becomes, “Why is God’s gift of Grace precious?” I immediately thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his book Cost of Discipleship. The quote that came to mind that explains why Grace is precious, and therefore valuable and costly, goes as follows:
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
We were bought at a great price so that we can be united with God, through salvation in Christ, thereby giving up our old lives of sin and living our new lives in Grace for the purpose of God’s glory. Amazing Grace, indeed!
Last summer, I taught my youngest son how to ride a bike. We were using the tried and true formal of me holding the bike upright as he climbed on. I would continue holding the back of the seat as he started to pedal wobbly with the bike swerving back and forth across the side walk.
I would start to push him faster while holding on to the seat and he would peddle faster in response. When we would get to what I though was a good speed, I would let him go. The first time I let go he went a little ways and fell into the grass along the sidewalk. I walked over, picked the bike up, and we repeated the process. He went a little way and fell in the grass again, and again and again. We kept doing this over and over and at one point he said to me “Dad, this is hard”. I told him “I know it is hard but sometimes we have to do things that are hard. Keep trying.”
After we had that brief exchange, I couldn’t help but think what a great example of God’s grace teaching my son how to ride a bike turned out to be. Especially an example of uncomfortable grace, like was mentioned by Paul David Tripp, in my previous post. God will put us in positions that we aren’t comfortable in so that we can grow through perseverance and struggle.
God has a bike for you that he wants you to learn to ride. It may be hard to ride at first and you may fall over and over again but God will keep picking up the bike and holding it for you to try again and again. God will make sure it stays on the sidewalk even though you are swerving back and forth unsteadily. You simply need to keep getting up and on the bike and to remember the most important thing – keep peddling.
See you on the third floor!
God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own – Paul David Tripp
The above quote comes from a sermon video by Paul David Tripp about the grace of refinement. Grace that can be uncomfortable. Below is a video clip from the sermon.