Pastor Barry Robinson

Letters to the Camberwell Congregation from Pastor Barry Robinson

Outrageous Grace

September 2009
“Outrageous Grace”

Sermons

Download a PDF version of this letter.

Dear Church Family,

During a conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what belief, if any, was unique to the Christian faith.

They began eliminating possibilities.

Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form.
Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.

The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions.

Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

After some discussion, the conference had to agree. The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity.

The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of Karma, and the Muslim code of law – each of these offer a way to earn approval.

Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.

We should be thrilled and stunned that the Holy and Awesome God of the universe actually likes and loves us. Has this truth penetrated our belief system? For many Christians it hasn’t.

The clinical psychologist Anne Balfour has said,

“In over twenty years of working as a clinical psychologist with Christians, I have discovered that grace is a subject not rooted in people’s personal experience, and therefore one that I am passionate about, and end up exploring in my sessions with clients! When I ask people how they think God sees them, they frequently reply that He sees them as a ‘sinner’, ‘dust of the earth’, ‘a lowly worm’, and ‘condemned’. It’s as if they have a filter to remove words such as ‘loved’, ‘saved by grace’, ‘a new creation’, seeing instead a harsh God of demands and judgements and conditions to be met. When I ask where they got this information from, they quote Bible verses, but leave out vital bits, for example that ‘God so loved the world and so he gave…”

Grace is what we thirst for, and the Scriptures should bring cool water to parched lips.

But grace will only come as we see afresh that God is ‘for me’ not ‘against me’. He travelled such a great distance, has gone through such unspeakable pain, and became so vulnerable in order to call us to himself.

What outrageous grace!

Do we recognise it? Do we see it? Do we feel it? Is it fundamental to our Christianity?

For many, it isn’t. That’s why, in the coming sermon series on grace I want to invite you to take a long, unhurried look at this amazing subject of grace – and more importantly at the God of grace himself.

I’m not going to suggest a plan of ‘fifty-seven ways to exude and overflow in grace in one easy and painless lesson’. Grace takes a lifetime to learn as we allow God’s outrageous kindness to touch, shape and sometimes interfere with our lives. This series will be just a small part of the long journey of grace on which we have embarked as we follow Jesus. And it is to Jesus we must look for as John’s gospel tells us,

‘From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:16-17)

Jesus exuded grace. In Luke’s gospel, we are told that grace rested upon Him from infancy and subsequently He grew in grace, and spoke gracious words.

Now in Him, grace is outrageous, because it is given at the prerogative of God to the undeserving through the scandal of the cross.

His forgiveness is beautiful, in that it leads us way beyond legal pardon, into friendship with Himself. He is the transforming sculptor who can take the fallen mess we are and make us into something like Himself.

Every step in the process of the Christian life is due to grace – our own talents and abilities are but fruits of grace at work within us. And, ultimately, grace will lead us home.

The subject of grace is so vast, so comprehensive, that any kind of exploration of ‘the incomparable riches of God’s grace’ (Ephesians 2:7) is like opening a bank vault, only to discover that it goes on for miles.

My prayer is, as we go through the subject of God’s outrageous grace, that you will see afresh a biblical vision of the God who is truly gracious, that you will be thrilled and excited as we plumb the depths of His grace and that you will ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen’. (2 Pet.3:18)

With love in Jesus’ name,

Barry Robinson
Pastor

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Sermons on ‘Outrageous Grace’

Check back here as the scheduled dates for each sermon will be issued monthly. When the sermon is online the title will become a link to the audio.

  1. Saving Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9 & others)
  2. Guilt and Grace (Various Scriptures)
  3. Sustaining Grace (Various Scriptures)
  4. Healing Grace (Various Scriptures)
  5. Liberating Grace (Various Scriptures)
  6. Offering Grace (Various Scriptures)
  7. Restoring Grace (Various Scriptures)
  8. Party Grace (Luke 15:11-32)
  9. Outrageous Grace – Be Thankful (Romans 5:6-11)
‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake’ (2 Corinthians 4:5).

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