Grace has many amazing attributes
By Kayla Rinker
ST. LOUIS–“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me …” The familiar lyrics of “Amazing Grace” echoed through the meeting room Oct. 28 during the convention sermon delivered by Forest Park Baptist Church (Joplin) Pastor John Swadley.
For Swadley, the song was the sermon.
“The world is starved for grace,” he said. “If we are going to work at restoring fellowship and reaching people, we need grace now more than ever.”
Basing his message on the verses found in Ephesians 2:1-10, Swadley described several reasons why he considers God’s grace to be so amazing.
“Grace is amazing because of the depth of my sin,” he said. “You never know how wonderful it is to be saved until you understand how terrible it is to be lost.”
Swadley said that if he averaged three sins a day from the time he was born until he was 70 years old, he would have more than 76,000 “black marks.” He said “Amazing Grace” Writer John Newton said it best when he wrote, “… to save a wretch like me.”
“That’s what we are,” he said. “All of our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Everything good we do comes from Him.”
Unlike every other world religion, Swadley said another “amazing” aspect of grace through Jesus Christ is that it is a gift.
“Praise God, He saved me,” he said. “And I’m not the only one. Our salvation is not based on merit, but on God’s mercy. We don’t have go on a pilgrimage and we don’t have to go door to door to pass out literature. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we don’t even have to tithe. We don’t have to do anything. That is good news.”
Continuing to reinforce more Southern Baptist core beliefs, Swadley said another reason grace is amazing is because once it is received it can never be lost.
“You can’t get unsaved by being bad,” he said. “Jesus will say, ‘I never knew you,’ to those who will see hell. He won’t say, ‘I knew you but I forgot you,’ or ‘I knew you but you sinned too much so I had to let you go.’ Those who don’t see heaven were never known by Christ.”
The last point Swadley made regarding God’s grace is the importance of sharing it. He said if believers truly want to be “Christ-like” they must exude the grace they hold so dear.
“The people Jesus surrounded himself with were not religious,” he said. “He hung out with some of the most unrighteous people there were. And for some reason, sinners liked Him and were drawn to Him. Are they likewise drawn to us? So, what’s the difference? My guess is that it might have something to do with grace.”
Swadley referred to the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15.
“I think the story has more to do with the elder brother than with the prodigal son,” he said. “It’s about how the elder brother should have a heart like his father when it comes to the prodigal son, just like we should have a heart like God. Will Missouri Baptists have the heart of the father or the heart of the elder brother?”
Describing the story of the adulterous woman in John 8, Swadley concluded his sermon by asking the messengers if they had a stone and the law ready to take aim and throw. He stated John 8:11 which reads, “‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”
“The law came from God through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus,” he said. “God makes us people of truth and grace. The past is in the past. Now is the time for truth and grace. Pretend you have the law and a stone in one hand and John 8:11 in the other. Which way do you think is the best way to restore fellowship and reach people?”