Another way to define grace is candlesticks.
FEBRUARY 23, 2021
Zach Van Dyke:
Another way to define grace is candlesticks. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
You’re listening to Key Life. Our message is simple, because life is hard for everyone, grace is for all of us. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to teach this week. Zach’s the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re tired of religion, that just beats you down, pull up a chair and stay while.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thank you Matthew. And thank you all for tuning in today. We’re going to be spending all this week talking about my very favorite subject, grace. And yesterday, I talked a little bit about why this is so important to me. How, when I was starting in ministry as a reluctant youth pastor, a guy who really didn’t want to do ministry as a job. The only way I knew I could survive, the only way I could keep my job, was if it always ended with grace. So I started ending all my talks to these students. I’m so glad it’s all about grace. And even though now, I don’t always end a sermon that way. I still, that’s still the point. That’s what I’m thinking of when I’m wrapping up a sermon. And if I’m ever not landing in grace, I feel like I’ve failed as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it’s what it’s all about. It’s all about grace. And so this week we’re going to talk about what is grace. And then in fact, when I’m here again in March, we’re going to do part two of All About Grace. And we’re going to talk about how grace works. So this week is just trying to understand and define grace, what it actually is and the next week, or next month, we’ll talk about how grace changes us, how grace is effective for making us more into the image of Christ for the sake of others. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, this week we’re talking about grace, what is grace? And I told you yesterday that I was preaching a sermon where I quoted Titus 2:11, and it wasn’t the main point of the sermon, but it was a verse that just grabbed hold of me. And it wouldn’t let me go. In fact, it kept kind of hounding me and I just couldn’t shake it. And so it’s the verse that we’re actually going to look at all the week, we’re going to break it apart bit by bit. So let me read the verse again, Titus 2:11.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
This is God’s word. So yesterday we start talking about, alright, well, what is grace? Like, what is just the purest definition of it? When we talked about how by definition, it’s undeserved, right? It’s a gift. It’s something that you can’t earn. And I mentioned how Philip Yancey in his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace says it’s the last best word, because it’s one of the words that hasn’t spoiled over time. It’s a theological word, that the meaning really hasn’t shifted. It’s, it’s preserved the glory of that original meaning in almost every form of the word that you can find today. And so grace is the last best word, but another way you could define grace is by candlesticks. One of my all time, favorite musicals is Les Miserables, or as, as theatre geeks call it Les Miz or as my dad calls it the most expensive nap he’s ever taken. But, Les Miz is a musical adaptation of an Epic novel by Victor Hugo. And it’s so grand in scope. In fact, it spans like 50 years and there’s all these different characters with all these, you know, intense story lines that intersect at different parts of the story. It deals with the beginning of the French Revolution, but at its heart, it’s really a simple story. It’s a simple story about the power of candlesticks, about the power of grace. The story begins, and we’re introduced to Jean Valjean, and he’s in a prison camp where he’s been in for 20 years. For stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. And he’s just getting paroled. But as part of his parole, he must present paperwork, declaring himself, a criminal, wherever he goes. And because of this, he’s constantly turned away from work. He’s refused shelter, in a lot of ways, he’s probably worse off than he was before he ever even committed that first crime. He’s pretty hopeless. He’s pretty destitute. But then he meets a priest and this priest invites him into his home to share a meal and to get a good night’s rest. And there’s this really powerful, but simple moment in the most recent film version of this story. And there’s been several adaptations of Les Miz, but it’s the, the adaptation of the musical that started, Hugh Grant and Russell Crowe that I was watching the other day. And this moment, I, I think I missed it the first time I saw it, but there’s this moment where the priest prays for the meal. And Jean Valjean has already started devouring, the food set before him like a starved animal. And there’s a few other guests at the table as well. And they’re just looking at him, with such contempt, wondering why in the world, this priest would invite this man into their home? And so the priest prays and in his prayer, he thanks God for their honored guest. He doesn’t see a criminal at his table. He sees an honored guest. Now the point I’m heading towards right now is not this, but this is a bonus. Grace always sees things as they really are. Remember that, we’re going to come back to that. Grace always sees things as they really are. Now after the meal, the priest says goodnight to Jean Valjean. He retires to his room. But Jean Valjean cannot sleep, because he knows that when he wakes up in the morning and he’s set off on his way, he’s going to be still in a really awful situation. He’s not going to be able to provide for himself. He’s going to be rejected and left out in the cold, to starve to death. So what does he do? He looks around, he sees all this silver and he just starts taking it. He fills up a bag full of fine silver belonging to this priest and he runs off. Well, the next morning he’s caught by the local police and brought back before the priest. When the police tell the priest that Jean Valjean claims that he was given the silver as a gift, immediately without missing a beat, the priest says, or rather sings.
That is right, but my friend you left so early, surely something slipped your mind. You forgot, I gave these also, would you leave the best behind.
Now y’all, can’t see this, but I can, Jeremy, our producer, he’s an accomplished musician and singer. He loves it when I sing, because every time he’s like, man, what raw talent, but enough about me, with that, the priest hands Jean Valjean two, silver candlesticks. That’s grace. It’s completely undeserved, unearned. In fact, grace is getting the opposite of what you deserve. It’s getting the opposite of what you deserve. What does Jean Valjean deserve? He deserved to be thrown back into prison, but not only did the priest say no, he didn’t steal, but then he lavished on him an even greater gift, candlesticks. And then for the next three plus hours, we watch, as we see the power of candlesticks. We see the impact act of grace on one person’s life. Now we’re going to talk a lot more about this when I’m here in March. When I talk about how grace works. So between now and then you should watch the film. You can watch the musical version, or you can watch the non singing version, if that’s more your speed, but you should watch Les Miz, because we’re gonna come back to it next time, when I’m here for part two of All About Grace. So, what is grace? Grace is getting the opposite of what you deserve. Now, let’s go back to our verse, Titus 2:11.
For the grace of God
the grace, the opposite of what you deserve
Grace isn’t just an idea. The word appeared, epiphaino, showing off my Greek there, was often used in Greek literature for the sudden arrival of a God or some other hero who would rescue his people. In the gospel of Luke, that same word, epiphaino, is used to describe Jesus’s birth as shining God’s light to those who sit in darkness or who are in the shadow of death. The apostle Paul, when he wrote to the young pastor Timothy, he said,
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it meaning grace has now been revealed through the appearing epiphaino of our savior Christ Jesus.
Grace isn’t just an idea. Grace is a historical reality. Grace is a person. Grace is Jesus. Jesus, the son of God, the second person of the Trinity is grace. So it’s not just this thing. It’s not just this thing you show one another. It’s not just an act. It’s an actual embodiment of God, a historical man, who was also God, who physically walked the earth, who was crucified, buried and three days later got up and walked out of the tomb is grace. Our verse, Titus 2:11.
For the grace of God has appeared.
Epiphaino, the hero has arrived on the scene to rescue his people. It reminds me in the beginning of the gospel of John, where John says
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son who came from the father full of grace and truth.
Grace is a person, and he came and I’m so glad that he did.
And that was Pastor Zach Van Dyke, speaking to us about grace and about how grace always sees things the way they are. I can’t promise that Zach will sing again tomorrow, but he definitely will be back teaching us. So hope you’ll join us for that. So it’s always a challenge to show others grace, and particularly so when we think we’re right about something, in fact, when we’re certain that we’re right, we sometimes develop a mindset of us against them. Well recently in our talk radio show, Steve Brown Etc, we spoke about this with Pastor and author Scott Sauls. Scott says when it comes to this issue, believers actually have a secret weapon to overcome that division. We put that entire episode on a CD that we’d love to send you today for free. So grab your copy now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email Steve@keylife.org and ask for the CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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