Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďGIVING GRACEĒ

Ephesians 4.29

A central concept of Bible truth is this matter of grace. Grace refers to Godís unmerited favor. That is, God sovereignly chooses to bless individuals in various ways, though we do not deserve anything from God because of our sinfulness. Godís grace can be seen in that fact that you are alive, can be seen in the fact that you enjoy a measure of health and prosperity, can be seen in the fact that your mind works reasonably well and that you are intelligent. The sun shines on the just and the unjust, showing that a measure of Godís grace is bestowed upon all men.

Keep in mind, however, that Godís gracious blessings are always sovereignly bestowed; meaning God has the absolute right to give or withhold any and all blessings, as He has shown in the past. For example, though Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, the rest of mankind in the days just before the Flood did not. God graciously provided the Ark for Noah and his family, but withheld such blessing from everyone else, which then perished in the Flood. Another example are the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, where God sent two angels to rescue Lot and his wife and daughters, while choosing not to rescue anyone else in those cities from the conflagration.[1] Grace, to remind you once again, is sovereignly bestowed and is unrelated to those receiving the benefit of Godís grace in any way deserving Godís grace.

Why is grace important? Or, why should it be treated as an important matter? Because the salvation of your eternal and undying soul is a matter of Godís grace. We know that God is gracious from the undeserved blessings He bestows upon us all. However, there is another sense in which Godís grace is seen, in sending His Son Jesus Christ, John 1.14: ďAnd the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.Ē

Owing to the confusion that is rampant in Christendom concerning this matter of grace, please be patient with me while I cover ground that is probably very familiar to a number of you. Though the concept of grace is most fully developed in the New Testament using the Greek word cariV, which at its most fundamental means that which delights, grace is a concept that is found throughout the Bible.[2] By the time Jewish people were returning from the Babylonian captivity the Greeks were using the word cariV to refer to the favor of the gods, with the word also becoming a fixed term for demonstrations of a rulerís favor, oftentimes used in inscriptions on monuments.[3] The first direct Old Testament reference to grace is in connection with previously mentioned Noah, who ďfound grace in the eyes of the LORD,Ē Genesis 6.8. In Genesis 33.5, Esau asks about his brother Jacobís children, who then replies that they are, ďThe children which God hath graciously given thy servant.Ē There is also Psalm 119.29, which shows that the LORD is gracious with the Law. It becomes clear when reading the Bible that the concept of grace means more in scripture than the simple favor of the gods or the favor of rulers conceived by the Greeks. In Godís Word, grace is associated with divine favor that is unearned, unmerited, wholly undeserved by sinful and guilty men. Thus, when the one true and living God bestows grace upon a person or a people He does so for reasons unconnected to any merit by the individual or group who benefits from His favor. Ultimately, of course, grace has a vital connection to salvation from sins and imparting eternal life to those who do not in any way merit Godís grace. Though it is negatively stated in Isaiah 64.6 that no oneís attempt to do good deeds merits Godís favor (ďBut we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy ragsĒ), it is in Romans 11.6 that the Apostle Paul contrasts grace with works, Godís saving favor with manís vain attempts to do good deeds to earn Godís blessings (ďAnd if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more workĒ). Thus, salvation by grace and salvation by works of righteousness are mutually exclusive concepts, and cannot in any way be blended together in a recipe that results in the salvation of any sinnerís soul. This is why Paul writes, ďby grace ye are saved,Ē in Ephesians 2.5 and begins Titus 3.5 by writing, ďNot by works of righteousness which we have done.Ē Grace is when God freely chooses to bless the undeserving.

What better example of Godís grace than His choice to send His only begotten Son by means of the virgin birth to die a substitutionary death on behalf of guilty and undeserving sinners? As is always the case when grace is involved, God does not have to bless, does not have to favor, but does so solely because He sovereignly chooses to do so. He did not have to save Noah and his family in the Ark, but would have been fully justified in judging Noah along with the rest of mankind. Neither did He have to send His beloved Son to die on Calvaryís cross for sins. Having sent His Son, however, God has also chosen to deal with undeserving sinners through the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit of God, who is identified as the Spirit of grace in Hebrews 10.29. Then, once someone has come to faith in Christ, he has an ongoing need of Godís grace in order to make the best use of the life he has acquired by means of his faith in Christ, Hebrews 12.28: ď. . . let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.Ē Please turn to Colossians 1.5-6, where we see the Apostle Paul bringing together this concept of Godís grace and the gospel. Notice that Colossians 1.5 ends with the words, ďye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.Ē Notice, as well, that Colossians 1.6 ends with the words, ďsince the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.Ē Thus, the truth of the gospel in verse 5 is the grace of God in verse 6, showing that in some contexts Godís grace is synonymous with, or is wrapped up in, the gospel.

To this point, grace has been discussed as something one receives from God. It is also useful to recognize that there are various means by which grace is received from God. However, that message is reserved for this evening. This morning we will confine our attention to giving grace.

I use the phrase ďgiving graceĒ as it is found in Ephesians 4.29. Please turn to that verse and stand for the reading of Godís Word:

 29     Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30     And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31     Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32     And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christís sake hath forgiven you.

 It is pretty clear that this passage deals with a Christianís speech, since no one who speaks with bitterness and a foul temper, shredding other people as a matter of course when they are crossed or angry, is at all likely to be truly born again. Corrupt communication, born of a mean spirit and a heart that is full of malice, is the speech pattern of the lost and not what should proceed from the mouth of the Christian. With the phrase ďthat it may minister grace unto the hearersĒ being the intent to which all the comments written by the apostle are ultimately directed, it is clear that there are ways believers should not speak, along with ways and things Godís people ought to speak, to the end ďthat it may minister grace unto the hearers.Ē Kindness is best verbalized. Comments reveal tenderheartedness. Transgressors are to be informed that they are forgiven.

What is frequently lost on Bible readers is the meaning of the word minister, found in Ephesians 4.29. It is a form of the Greek verb didwmi, to give. This notion of giving is one we need to pay close attention to, since the entire concept of grace conveys the notion that God possesses a giving nature. It is significant that God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, John 3.16. In John 14.16, Jesus promises to pray for the Father to give us another Comforter, the Holy Spirit. In Romans 5.5, we are told the Holy Ghost is given unto us. Second Corinthians 8.1 shows us that the grace of God to sacrificially contribute to Paulís relief effort was given to the churches of Macedonia. In Galatians 1.4, Paul declares that Jesus gave Himself for our sins. All told, more than 350 verses in the Greek New Testament contain this word that means give, showing that God gives, Jesus gives, the Spirit gives, and believers doing Godís will give.

I zero in on our text for today by taking note of how the Apostle Paul uses the word didwmi in his letter to the Ephesians written from Roman imprisonment. It is no surprise to most people that Paul directly refers to grace twelve times in Ephesians. However, it might surprise some to learn that Paul also uses this Greek word to give twelve times.

         Ephesians 1.17 refers to Paulís prayer that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto his readers the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.

         Ephesians 1.22 speaks of the headship over the church God the Father gave to His Son, Jesus.

         Ephesians 3.2, 7 and 8 declare that God gave grace to Paul to effectively serve Him.

         Ephesians 3.16 deals with God giving the believer strength to serve by His Spirit.

         Ephesians 4.7 speaks of grace being given to the believer.

         Ephesians 4.8 and 11 refers to Christ giving gifted men to congregations.

         Ephesians 4.27 forbids giving the devil any advantage.

         Ephesians 4.29, our text, refers to giving grace to those who hear us. Back to this verse shortly.

         Finally, in Ephesians 6.19, Paul urges prayer for him, that God will give him the proper words to say, in that Roman imprisonment, that he may open his mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.

 Ephesians is clearly a letter in which both Godís grace and giving are prominent. Implied is Godís gift of His Son. Stated is Godís gift of the Spirit, Godís gift to His Son, Christís gifts to His own, Godís gift of grace to believers, and something that stands out prominently in my mind. It is the believer in Jesus Christ giving grace, Ephesians 4.29.

With this in mind, consider two things that ought to prove exciting and challenging for the child of God:

 First, Christian, YOU ARE A RESOURCE

 Christian thought is so shallow these days that many churchgoers never give thought to their own need of Godís grace, or by what manner God provides grace for people. We know that believers are saved by grace through faith, but what about afterwards? This concept of the Christian needing grace and the means of grace were recognized to be important in centuries past, for both the saved and the lost. The means of grace has to do with the activity by which God gives grace to a spiritually needy individual. Christians are, by definition, spiritually needy individuals. As are the unsaved.

Allow me to illustrate by likening a personís need for grace with a profound physical need: We know that people can live for weeks at a time without food, but only for a few days without water. Consider your ongoing need for water to being somewhat like your continual need for Godís undeserved favor, Godís grace. You have been without water for several days, and are aware that you desperately need water to survive, when you suddenly come upon a clear plastic container full of what appears to be water. Sorry, but that is still not good enough. Unless you find a means of getting water from that container to your mouth your body will be discovered desiccated in the desert. You must have a means to get water from the container to your mouth or you will die. In like manner, every Christian stands in continual need of Godís grace to live life the way it is supposed to be lived. The lost need Godís grace to be saved from death to life. It is sometimes an unperceived need, granted, but still the greatest need anyone can have. It just so happens that Godís grace in Jesus Christ is available, was available, and always will be available.[4] What is needed, however, is the means by which Godís grace in Christ can be gotten from where it is to a personís soul. Until that happens, no amount of grace will do anyone any good whatsoever.

According to Ephesians 4.29, my Christian friend, you are the means by which grace can be ministered to the hearer; you are the means by which grace can be given to the person who hears you. Look at verse 29 once more. Clear away some of the descriptive qualifying words and you will see that Paul writes ďout of your mouth . . . minister grace unto the hearers,Ē or ďout of your mouth . . . give grace unto the hearers.Ē What is Godís grace? It is Godís unmerited favor. Considering Colossians 1.5-6 and the context of Ephesians 4.29, it is clear that from his Roman imprisonment Paul is pointing out to his Ephesian readers that they are the means by which others will by their speaking be given the grace of God, with the grace of God ultimately referring to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the case of those who are not saved. In the case of believers, it will be instruction, guidance, wisdom, insight, correction, and encouragement for their benefit. Think of it, my Christian friend. You, a means of Godís grace being imparted to another human being.

However, there is an additional consideration for you to ponder.

 Christian, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE

 Why is it that since you are a means of imparting grace to another human being you are responsible? Think about it and you will see.

In Luke 12.48, the Savior explained His parable and said, ďFor unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.Ē The child of God has tasted that the Lord is gracious. The believer in Jesus Christ knows by experience that you are saved by grace through faith. He is the recipient of the greatest of Godís graces, in that he has graciously been saved from the penalty of his sins, is being saved from the power of his sins, and will be saved from the presence of his sins someday. On top of that, he is informed that he is a means whereby Godís unmerited favor can be communicated to another needy human being by means of the words he speaks. Thus, he can witness the gospel message of Godís grace in Christ to that sinner who needs the Savior, and he can provide instruction, correction, exhortation and encouragement to his brothers and sisters in Christ. Do you honestly think such a spiritual treasure trove as has been given to every believer in Jesus Christ is supposed to lie buried somewhere because a Christian remains silent when he or she should speak? Not suggesting that everyone is a teacher or preacher. However, Proverbs 25.11 reads, ďA word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.Ē Meaning? Meaning just the right word, spoken at just the right time, is a beautiful thing to be treasured.

In Romans 1.14, Paul writes: ďI am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.Ē Paul understood that the great need of the lost, be they sophisticated or rude, whether they thought themselves wise or knew they were unwise, was provided by means of the gospel message. In words he would use when he was a prisoner in Rome, Paul recognized that he needed to minister grace to them. His duty, of course, was to preach. However, he was an apostle, a preacher, a theologian, and a missionary. While you may not be any of those things, you are still a debtor. Obligated to preach sermons or teach lessons? Not necessarily. However, you still have a duty to say something, even if it is only a word fitly spoken.

You are in the position of the Good Samaritan spoken of in our Lordís parable in Luke 10.30-37. He came upon a Jewish man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead, but who was not helped by his countrymen. Therefore, seeing the great need and his unique opportunity, though the victim might have hated him as a despised Samaritan on any other occasion, nevertheless he tended to the manís needs and did what he could. When teaching the parable about responding to a neighborís need, Jesus said, ďGo, and do thou likewise.Ē My friend, how does that parable not apply to you and me? How can we who have such a supply of water in our canteens as we pass through this desert called life not share a sip with those dying of thirst?

 Think of it. The God of glory and grace has made it possible for you and me to actually serve as the means whereby God imparts grace to needy souls. We know sinners are saved by grace. We know that Christians grow in grace and serve by grace. Just imagine, then, what it must mean in cosmic terms for such as you and me to actually be useful to God as the physical and organic tools by which grace is imparted to others.

Perhaps the grace you impart will be as simple as a kind ďHello,Ē or a gentle ďMay I help you?Ē It may be that you observe an expression on someoneís face and ask, ďIs there any way I can help you?Ē It can most frequently be you introducing yourself in a relaxed and friendly way, showing yourself to be friendly when there is always room in someoneís life for another friend.

However, you are not like other friends. You want nothing from the person you met, but have a desire to be used of God to give something to your new friend. You want to give grace. Somehow, and in some way, your desire is to be useful to God and beneficial to your fellow man, to put on display Christís great work on your behalf by being kind, by being gentle, by making a friend, and saying the words that are useful to bringing a soul to church, and perhaps to bringing a soul to Christ.

From his confinement in the Mamartine Prison in Rome, shackled to a Roman soldier, Paul wrote to his friends in Ephesus about grace and about giving. Approaching the end of his letter, he instructed those Christians how they should talk to people. Not the kind of talk that came out of the mouths of lost people, that only grieved the Spirit of God, but words useful to build people up in the faith, words of kindness, words coming from a tender heart, words of forgiveness.

There is no Christian who has ever lived who cannot give grace to others in this way. I cannot imagine a Christian who could not be excited at the prospect of being so useful to God and to actually be the means by which grace is given to those who are in need.



[1] Genesis 19.1-25

[2] Gerhard Kittel, Editor, Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol IX, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974) page 373.

[3] Ibid., pages 374-375.

[4] 1 Corinthians 1.4-8



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