Recognising Grace

What Does Grace Look Like?

Acts 11:23


January 18, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Acts 11:23)


A.    Barnabas came to a church of Gentile Christians in Antioch and instead of seeing pagans, naked, worshipping idols and beating themselves, and saw the Grace of God – plain as day!

B.     So, What does GRACE look like? Would you recognise it if you saw it?


1.      Grace is kind of hard to see in our culture – it is not everywhere

2.      As a matter of fact, it is pretty rare

3.      And even when it is present and visible, Most people are quite blind to it – it is like someone who is colour-blind. Have NEVER noticed it before!


C.     Let’s Define Grace again


1.      A constant Attitude that gives, and gives, and gives towards those who deserve nothing

2.      Holding back wrath and condemnation that people DO deserve

3.      Being kind at no cost to the receiver – paid for by the giver

4.      Something Greater than anything this side of heaven!

5.      Not a license to live as we please – but to live better

6.      God’s work on my life to make me more like Jesus – Changing ME and not the other person

7.      In summary:


a.       Yes, you have rules, Godly expectations of yourself and others – you never throw those out (God’s Grace did not get rid of His laws)

b.      But Grace means Softness, Yielding, Tolerant, Kind, Patient, Forgiving

c.       NOT demanding, exacting, sharp, harsh, fierce, mean


D.    Do you see much of that around these days?

E.     I want to show you how to recognise Grace when it is in action, and how to develop it in your way of living!


II.    Background


A.    Let me show you a couple of examples of people who needed their eyes opened to God’s Grace, or they would have missed it!

B.     Balaam (Num 22:10-12, 21-34)


1.      Balaam was a wicked, selfish prophet

2.      He could only see an opportunity to be recognised, popular, wealthy

3.      He could only see money

4.      He almost missed seeing God’s grace, in the donkey, and in the patience of God

5.      And if it weren’t for that donkey, Balaam would have faced God’s wrath head on!


C.     Hagar (Gen 21:1,2, 8-12, 14-19)


1.      Hagar was a servant that Abraham had brought out of Egypt.

2.      She had been nothing but trouble for both Abraham and Sarah

3.      And her son Ishmael was now causing more problems

4.      So Sarah ordered Hagar and Ishmael out of her home

5.      She was homeless - helpless

6.      She could only see disaster, and hopelessness

7.      And she almost missed the miracle of God’s provision

8.      Oh how wonderful it is when God opens our eyes to His grace – His goodness – His kindness towards us!


D.    Did you know that, the whole Bible is not just full of events, and people – it is full of GRACE

E.     We all need our eyes opened to Grace this morning!


III. Message


A.    See Grace in the Cross (Hebrews 2:9)


1.      What do you see happening on the Cross?

2.      Most people only see a poor travelling teacher dying

3.      But if you look a little closer, you will find… GRACE!


a.       Softness

b.      Yielding to the Roman Soldiers

c.       Tolerant of all the false accusations

d.      Kind when people were yelling Crucify Him

e.       Patient enough to trust God through it all

f.       And most of all, you will find Someone Forgiving those who were hurting Him


4.      You see, GRACE put Jesus on the cross

5.      And Grace KEPT Him on the cross

6.      And Grace was at work all the while Jesus was on the cross


a.       Father, Forgive

b.      Today, thou shalt be with me

c.       Jesus took care of everyone around Him – even though HE was hurting, and abandoned, and alone


d.      Oh, God has laws, expectations of every man, woman, and child in the world

e.       And God’s Grace did not get rid of His laws

f.       So, instead of Demanding, and exacting, sharp, harsh, fierce, mean…

g.      You will see Jesus!


7.      That’s why Christians preach the cross, and honour what happened there!


B.     See Grace in Your Salvation (Titus 3:3-7)


1.      What do you see when you look back at the day you repented, and cried out to God to have mercy on you a sinner, and save your lost soul? What do you see?


a.       You ought to see GRACE!


2.      You and I ought to face God’s wrath (Titus 3:3)


a.       Tit 3:3  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

b.      God doesn’t HAVE to give us second and third chances constantly

c.       We all have earned the trouble we are in, and going to be in


3.      Yet, He waited patiently FOR ME

4.      And He saved me out of the goodness of HIS graciousness, NOT because of any value there is in me (Titus 3:4-7)


a.       Tit 3:4  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

b.      Tit 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

c.       Tit 3:6  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

d.      Tit 3:7  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


5.      Take a good look at God’s forgiveness for all your sins
and see the word at work in your heart, the work of God humbling you
All of which are the result of GRACE, and not WRATH

6.      We need to change our focus from our own goodness (which is a lie) and onto God and see His grace toward the ungodly

7.      And THANK God that He looks at us through the grace of His Son!

8.      That’s why Christians get excited when they think about their salvation – because they have experienced AMAZING GRACE


C.     See Grace in Every Page of the Bible (Hebrews 13:9; Acts20:32)


1.      There is GRACE in every chapter


a.       Yes, there is meat to shew on, and hard things to understand, things that must be thoroughly studied

b.      But there is milk; easy to understand things to notice, and to learn from!


2.      Many people only see God’s anger, wrath, judgment in the Bible – and those are all there

3.      But they fail to see all the waiting, and long-suffering that God went through before He had to judge!

4.      AND they fail to see the way God made for everyone to escape


a.       As with Nineveh – by repentance and humility

b.      As with the world in Noah’s day – by repentance and getting in the Ark
120 years God was willing to WAIT on mankind to repent

c.       As it is today – through faith in Jesus Christ alone! (2Cor 6:1,2)


5.      As you read your Bible, page by page, chapter by chapter, look for grace – look for GOD being kind, patient, merciful when he ought to be full of wrath


a.       Adam and Eve – God warned them of the consequences, then when they ignored His law, he was ready to execute His wrath, but He instead offered GRACE by a substitute, that would take the wrath!

b.      Moses – temper led to him becoming a murderer, yet God gave him another chance

c.       David – an adulterer, liar, and murderer, and yet was given mercy, at CHRIST’S expense

d.      Peter – a traitor to Christ, yet given another chance without question or remembrance!

e.       The woman caught in adultery – given another chance to live without sin

f.       Saul of tarsus – a fanatical zealot who murdered and tortured Christians… yet offered another way of life, and Saul took it! Became the greatest Christian this world has ever known!


D.    Make sure there is Loads of Grace in Our Attitudes (Hebrews 12:28; Romans 12:3; Ephesians 3:8)


1.      Yes, you have to have rules, Godly expectations of yourself and others – you never throw those out

2.      But remember, grace means a Softness, Yielding, Tolerant, Kind, Patient

3.      NOT demanding, exacting, sharp, harsh, fierce, mean

4.      So, Have Grace in the way we act and react to each other (1Peter 3:8,9)!


a.       Not reacting like you do naturally… But with grace (Softness, Yielding, Tolerant, Kind, Patient)

b.      Not with anger, wrath, evil speaking… but with kindness and grace


5.      The way we Talk, and what we say when we speak (Col 4:6).


a.       Take a good look at your words! LISTEN TO YOURSELF!

b.      Are they gracious words? Or harsh words, stabbing words?


6.      In the way you look at other people


a.       Do you honour others, or demean them in your thinking?

b.      Do you tear people down, and edify and build them up?

c.       Are people always problems, or are they souls for whom Christ died, that He asks you to minister to at every opportunity?


7.      At the way you look at yourself


a.       People need to see humility – because it is the soil of grace! Pride produces wrath, and anger, and division

b.      You need to believe you are nothing, but that it is God at work in you, and through you!


8.      Gracious attitudes towards those that upset you will not come naturally.


a.       It is NOT in you and me

b.      God gives us grace so that we can extend grace to others (John 1:14,16)


E.     Look for Grace in Your Marriage (1Peter 3:7)


1.      What would people notice about your relationship with your husband or wife?


a.       A Softness towards each other? That’s grace

b.      Yielding to the wishes of the other? That’s grace

c.       A Tolerance of differences, and pet-peeves? That’s grace

d.      Kindness when the other is angry and upset? That’s grace!

e.       Patient with each other, letting each other grow, and mature? That’s grace!

f.       And most of all, each Forgiving each other instantly, and completely? That’s grace!


2.      Make sure your mate SEES grace in how you treat them – whew!


a.       Not just exacting the law

b.      And NOT only your expectations, and condemnations for failures

c.       But a deep kindness, and giving of second and third chances


3.      Make sure that you mainly notice the good things in your marriage instead of always only seeing faults

4.      Let’s make our homes places of grace – places where we see GRACE interacting with Grace

5.      Because it is in the place of Grace, that God is there!


F.      Look for and develop Grace in our Church (Acts 11:19-23)


1.      Barnabas travelled 300 miles north of Jerusalem to a church of Gentile Christians in Antioch of Syria, and instead of seeing pagans, naked, worshipping idols and beating themselves in worship of false gods…

2.      He saw what God’s grace had done TO them, by watching how they now treated each other, as they followed the life of Jesus Christ:


a.       He saw thoroughly Converted people – different than they used to be


1)      Grace is not God tolerating your sins

2)      Grace is paying off every one of your sin’s debts

3)      And then transforming you from a sin-loving sinner, into a Saviour loving saint!

4)      Changed! Changed desires, changed loves, changed purpose, changed mind

5)      Converted!


b.      He also saw, A Loving people, compassionate towards each other


1)      Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are MY disciples, if ye have LOVE one for another!”

2)      Grace is when people from so many nationalities, cultures, get along like FAMILY

3)      Grace is when people overlook pet-peeves, and aggravations – because we are FAMILY!

4)      Have very short memories about hurts, disappointments, let-downs

5)      God will bring us all into judgment based on how much grace we have with each other! Take it seriously!

6)      People are WAY too thin skinned!

7)      These Antiochan Christians loved to be together!

8)      Loved preaching

9)      Loved giving

10)  And loved serving

11)  That’s when you see GRACE in action!


c.       Barnabas also saw, People who lived by faith instead of by force, or by fear


1)      The people in Antioch were used to being beaten into believing whatever their king believed

2)      They were used to living in fear of their religious ruler’s wrath

3)      But now, they feared ONLY God

4)      And they believed with all their heart because they made the choice themselves!


d.      Barnabas saw the grace of God in those people as a church!


3.      That’s what I want to see here, in our church. Not just a bunch of religious people, but a body of believers, who have been affected, by the grace of God in their lives!


IV. Conclusion/Invitation


A.    Tell me if you see grace anywhere – real grace!


1.      You will learn what it looks like FIRST on the Cross

2.      If you are born again, you OUGHT to see AMAZING Grace in Your Salvation

3.      Take the time to notice Grace in every page of the Bible – don’t miss the goodness of God in every page towards those that do not and never could have deserved His kindness!

4.      Make sure there is loads of Grace in your way of living and thinking and acting and reacting

5.      Make sure there is abundant Grace in your Marriage

6.      Let’s all develop Grace in our Church!


B.     If you do not see Grace in your life, You only get your eyes opened by conversion (Acts 26:18)


1.      By being shown what really happened on the cross

2.      Until you accept by faith that THAT was grace for you, when God should instead pour out His wrath, then you will NEVER see the goodness of God

3.      You will only see opportunities to succeed, make money, take power, have power, become popular, revenge wrongs, get rid of enemies

4.      And you will miss the grace of God, that has been patiently at work, leading you to a changed life! Rom 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


C.    Will you let Christ open your eyes to His amazing grace this morning?