For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich. (II Corinthians 8:9)

I am always deeply touched when I read this passage.  The essential message of the gospel is found in it.  These words cause me to realize the great extent of the humility of Christ.

The opening words are essential, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…Unfortunately many, many people do not know His grace.  For years in ministry I have seen people who have been in church all their lives and yet they do not know the grace of God.  They are religious and moral, but they trust in their own self-righteousness.  I believe they may be harder to reach than rank unbelievers.

Irreligious people who are confronted with their sins usually accept their guilt.  Their sins tend to be more pronounced — adultery, the blatant misuse of God’s name, unethical business practices, etc.  Often they know they are doing wrong things — but so what?  Yet when they come to grasp the gospel, they readily accept their wrongdoing and see the extent of sin against God and others.  They genuinely repent of their sins and gratefully trust Christ for forgiveness.  I have seen this happen often.

On the other hand the religious people, the church attenders, have a difficult time admitting their wrong.  They aren’t guilty, at least on the outside, of such sins as adultery, thievery, etc.  Notice I said on the outside!  Like the Pharisees, often such people are guilty of committing these offenses on the inside.  They may not commit the physical act of adultery, but they lust in their hearts.  As I stated earlier, self-righteous people people are more difficult to reach than the rank “sinner.”  They believe that their high moral standards, their religious practices and good deeds make them right with God.  They are so deceived!  The sternest words Jesus gave were to people like these.  He said, You are of your father the devil.

Even genuine believers at times do not know the gospel.  We forget and quickly return to our self-righteousness which is always our default mode.  Luther said that we must regularly preach the gospel to ourselves.  As a preacher of the gospel, I have always made sure that when I preach God’s Word that the gospel is made clear.  But, even I often forget the gospel.  I quickly move back to my self- righteousness.  I begin to trust in my ministry to others.  You see, hopefully I help others; comfort them; make them feel better; and work with them to sort out their problems.  Notice the word “I” in the passage.  And to make matters worse, I often believe all the good things people say about me.  “You are such a good preacher.”  “You make me feel good inspite of my problems.”  This is when I get careless and forget it is not I but it is Jesus.

The point of all this is to say, do you really know the the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Do you believe the gospel and are you willing to stake your life on the truth of it?

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