he Grace that Redeemed the World ( 16 Dec 2007)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Sharon Hanby-Robie

Special Music

O Come, All Ye Faithful
The First Noel
Glory to God
Good Christians, All Rejoice
Joy to the World

The Blind Boys Of Alabama- Go Tell it on the Mountain
The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Silent Night
The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Last Month of the Yea

The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

Well you know when I was in high school; my father told a story that I remember to this day. You know different stories you hear can be very impacting. And this story was obviously very impacting to me because gosh it was 15 years ago that I heard that story, at least. At least. Maybe double that, almost. But I was sitting in the Arboretum which is the old church and I listened to my father tell this story and it was about a little boy who built a boat. And I pictured in my mind a great big sailboat and this kid went and he manufactured this boat, he polished the hull, had it all painted and spent weeks and months building this boat until it was just right. And then he took it down to the river to sail his boat. And as he put it in the water, he watched with great dismay as this boat; first he jumped up with glee because the boat sailed so good but then when he couldn’t run along the shore fast enough to catch it, his glee turned to sorrow as he watched his boat just sail off into the distance, never to be seen again.

Well some time later, he was downtown with his mother and he’s walking past the toy store and there in the window of this toy store is this magnificent beautiful boat and his eyes popped out of his head, he couldn’t believe it. It was his boat! In the window of the toy store! Somebody had found it, taken it to the toy store, sold it to them and they were so impressed by this boat that they stuck it in the front window with a for sale sign on it. So he went marching into there and goes excuse me sir, that’s my boat. And he goes, I’m sorry son, you have to buy that boat before it’s your boat. He says no, no, you don’t understand. I made that boat with my hands. That’s my boat in the window! And he said son I don’t know whether you built that boat or not, but I bought that boat. And that boat is mine but I’d love to sell it to you, it’s in the window. All you have to do is get the right amount of money and you come back here and that boat is all yours. And this little boy was very discouraged because he didn’t have any money.

So he went and he worked himself to the bones, saving all of his nickels and dimes and dollars, whatever he could until he finally had enough money. He went running back to the toy store and he bought his boat back. And he held on to that boat and he walked out of that store saying you’re my boat, you’re my boat, you’re my boat. You’re twice my boat! First you’re my boat because I made you. Secondly you’re my boat because I bought you.

And that’s the way God looks at every single one of us. You’re twice His boat. First because He made you. He made you just the way you are with all the beautiful characteristics that you have. Every tweak and nuance, every idiosyncrasy and gift that you have is part of what God wanted you to have because God made you that way. And then God sent His Son Jesus Christ as a baby. He sent Him into this world so that whoever believes in Him will experience the joy of His grace. And God buys you back and you’re God’s twice over first because He made you, then because He bought you.

There’s a text I wish to read this morning. It’s from Ephesians it’s, gosh it’s one of my favorite verses. I’ve got a ton of favorite verses but this is one I’m sure you’re all familiar with: “It is by grace that you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God. Not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. For it is by grace that we have been saved.” I can’t tell you how often I’ve shared the gospel with people in a conversational form and in a manner and one of the questions that I’ve been asked numerous times is saved from what? You ever heard that question? You ever been asked that question if you’re talking about the gospel? Saved from what? And you know the traditional answer to that question is well you’re saved from hell and you’re saved from damnation and fire and it is the traditional answer that we have when we say we have been saved by grace. We are saved. And the answer is true. But I would say in addition to that, the answer is incomplete because we have to remember that God’s grace casts a big net. His grace is all encompassing.

One of the first miracles that Jesus did after He rose from the grave, was He appeared before the apostles and the apostles are out there fishing and they’ve been out there all night and they haven’t caught a thing and He yells to them and says ‘cast your net on the other side.’ And when they do they cast their net and they pull in such an incredible harvest of fish that they practically break their nets. And I believe it is an example of what Christ does in our world today. He casts a huge net and His nets are full with the grace of His redeeming love.

One of the things we’ve doing for many years now is we’ve been distributing a little card. I keep it with me in my money clip here. Here it is: my ticket to heaven. How many people here have a ticket to heaven? There’s one, there’s another, there’s a few of you have a ticket. There’s one sticking up in the air. How many people have a ticket to heaven? There’s quite a few of you but there’s more of you who don’t have a ticket to heaven. Well this is just a little something that we’ve printed a long time ago, probably two, three years ago. Which simply says this: “Anyone who comes to Me I will in no way cast out, Jesus Christ.” And underneath that you simply sign it to say you accept it. And that’s the ticket to heaven. A very simple little piece of plastic. All it costs is about 50 cents to send this little piece of plastic out, and when we do we ask people to send a donation and most people do and we have sent out literally thousands of these.

And this past week we were talking about different budget cuts that we may have to enter into because we’re having some financial struggles and this was brought up that well you know, it cost us about $15,000 last year to print and distribute these tickets to heaven. Do you think we should cut it out of the budget? And guess what I said: What’d I say? What did I say? We’re going to keep distributing tickets to heaven, is that a good idea? We want people to realize that God casts a big net and I want to encourage people to get one of these. You can go online, you can order one. We’ll send it to you. And if you want to send us a contribution you can. It doesn’t matter. We want to send you tickets to heaven. We have sent out thousands of these and we’ll continue to send out thousands of these because God casts a big net. But I think we’re far more than just saved from separation from God, from hell.

And I think the message is far more profound when we realize that there’s something that takes place when we accept the grace of Jesus Christ. We are saved from our negative thinking. And it is negative thinking that just continues to demoralize us as individuals, as people, as a nation, as a community. The demoralization talking says I’m not good enough. I’m not rich enough. I’m not slim enough. I’m not whatever it is. And you can get into this enormous enough-ness thinking where I’m never enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not happy enough, and the grace of Jesus Christ redeems us from this negative thinking so we can understand the beauty and the reality of who we are in Christ Jesus. And we can get away from the lies that hold us back from being all we are. The lie says that hah, I am a sinner because I sin. And that is a lie. You may not even recognize it as a lie and you may not recognize it until I tell you the truth and the truth is that you are a saint who still sins, but you are a saint. You have been redeemed by God. You have been surrounded with His grace. You’ve been purchased by Him and you are a saint. The lies are that my identity comes from whatever I can do. The things that I have done make me who I am. And that is a lie. The truth is that your identity comes from God and what God has done for you. That is the truth. The lie is that my behavior tells me what to believe about myself. And the truth is that your belief about yourself determines your behavior. Negative thinking is eradicated when we accept and realize this beautiful promise of Jesus Christ that through His grace we are redeemed.

But then I’d go on one more thing and we are saved from what? I would take it maybe a little different and say we are saved for what. What are we saved for? We have been saved for a purpose and for a reason. God has given us His grace and redeemed us so that we can be empowered and strengthened and motivated and inspired to be the people that God has called us to be. To do what God has called us to do. And to aspire to that which He has envisioned for our lives.

December 10th in Oslo Sweden, the Nobel Peace Prize was presented to a gentlemen from Bangladesh. His name is Mohammed Yunus. Do you know what he does? He loans small amounts of money to extremely impoverished people. That’s all he does. He’ll loan two, three hundred dollars, sometimes even a hundred dollars to someone. And as far as they’re concerned, it’s a years worth of salary. And it gives them the ability to be able to get out of the trap that they have found themselves in, and to free themselves from this financial bondage and give them the ability to be what they’ve been called to be. And for this he has received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Today, there are many people who are doing this. That they can get out of that extreme poverty situation. Now extreme poverty, I’m talking about the 800 million people in this world who live on less than $350 a year. And you loan somebody who makes that much money $300, and it’s an enormous sum of money. And they can go and I was listening to one illustration of a young woman who said she was able to go and buy a sewing machine and now she can sew clothes and she’s now making money and earning a living to be able to get an education for her children.

We are called by God for a purpose, for a reason. We were created by Him with special talents and gifts and abilities. We have been saved by Him to be able to use these talents in a way that’s going to glorify His name. But, let us remember these words: We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, but we are not saved by our good works, we are saved by His grace, a gift given to us because of His enormous love for every single human being on planet earth, He gives it to us. And that’s why we’re going to continue to give away our tickets to heaven. We have a gentleman who found his purpose for living. He writes to us and he asks for a thousand tickets to heaven at a time. I’m questioning whether he cuts those up and gets a new one every day just to make sure it’s good. And so we contacted him to find out what in the world do you want with a thousand tickets to heaven? He says well I’m giving them away. I’m going to the prisons and I’m giving them to people in prison.

God casts a huge net, a net which reaches out and redeems His people and saves them, not only from hell, but He saves them from their negative thoughts which demoralize and tears us down. And He gives us the positive thoughts. Then in addition to that, He saves us so that we can be the people He’s called us to be.

A few weeks ago my wife and I were in Landstuhl Germany and we were praying for some of the troops that were there and the other people who had been injured in Afghanistan or Iraq and flown to this medical center in Germany. We met a gentleman there who was from SriLanka and he had literally had his arm blown off but sewn back on. You could see the stitches going clear around his arm. And he was sitting there saying you know I was blown up not once but three times. I was involved; there were three mines there that went off all around me, three separate occasions. And I’m still alive! He said I know why I’m alive. I’m alive because Jesus Christ bought me with His grace. And Jesus Christ wants me to go home and share it with my family because they don’t know who Jesus is. They don’t know what Christmas is all about. And so I’m going to get well and I’m going to go home and I’m going to tell my family why I’m alive today.

Jesus Christ was born 2000 years ago. And He’s casting His nets today and He’s bringing in an incredible catch. A catch of hope and joy. A catch of peace and goodwill. A catch of brothers and sisters from every corner of this globe. And He’s redeeming our minds with positive thoughts and good works.

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