Monday, April 26, 2010

By Your Underlining Shall Ye Know Them ...

I always know if a sermon is going to be a fair one, a good one or an AWESOME one by the amount of bold and underlining it receives! I listened to a sermon today that got LOADS of underlining and bold - and it was by Pete Greasley - senior pastor of Christchurch in Wales speaking at New Word Alive. It was so good I actually transcribed the whole thing. Before I post some of my notes (I don't want to post the whole thing as I am concious that I had to pay for the download from the NWA site and don't want to rob any of their income) - I just want to apply a prophecy that Rob Rufus gave recently.

"I have a word of prophecy for someone here today; you have become cynical and sceptical and you feel it is normal and acceptable because of legalism in your past and the religious church world that you have rejected. You don’t almost feel that church is relevant anymore and so you are sceptical and cynical. And the Lord says in a loving way; “You feel this is okay because the religious world and legalism is so bad that you now can live cynically about church”. The Lord says; “The reason you are cynical is not because of the religious world – it is because you don’t believe totally the gospel of pure grace".

I'm tired of being angry at SGM. I'm tired of the whole "SGM-thing". I was the only family member not to be invited to a family birthday party this month. The reason? Because my parent's SGM pastors were there. That hurts.

But I don't want to be in the place where I am cynical and skeptical because I don't believe in the gospel of pure grace! So I listened to this sermon of Pete Greasley's primarily because I was interested to see what he said at New Word Alive and how often he said; "My friend C J" (only once for the record). But I ended up being floored by the pure grace preaching that came out of his expounding of Psalm 103. Grace from SGM?! Yep.

There may be some who have been hurt by SGM (and there are thousands I know of) who refuse to accept that "can anything good come out of SGM". I know - I was one of them for quite a few years! But the thing about being in a desert is that when someone offers you a glass of water - you become remarkably "unfussy" about who you accept it from. Many of us are in a legalistic desert and are hungering for "pure grace" preachers of the Word of God who don't mix law and grace - but unveil the Gospel in it's glorious truth.

I have to say thus far - in my estimation - Pete Greasley is one such guy. Here's why (and as I said - these are my notes. The download is only £1 and I do recommend it strongly to everyone!);

The context of Psalm 103:

"You look into 2 Samuel 7 and you see this wonderful situation with King David where he is made king and he is suddenly carrying this responsibility and he is also pumped up with what he is going to do for God. You have this situation where he is pacing the floor and calls in Nathan the prophet ... !”. Then God comes and speaks to Nathan and says; “David, I took you from the sheepfold when you were nothing and I took the initiative and I brought you this far (past grace) and I have kept you – all your life has been soaked in My grace to you (present grace)”. And then He says;

“David – you won’t build Me a house – I will build you a house. It is not about what you are going to do for Me – it is about what I have done, what I am doing and I will do for you”.

THAT is what this Psalm is about. So I have five points – five ways that we see grace outworking in this;

1. Essential Grace.

From there he opens the whole Psalm up and this is a man amazed by grace. Staggered by it! He looked at essential grace – who God is. A W Tozer says in his book; “The Knowledge of the Holy”;

What comes to a man’s mind when he thinks about God is the greatest thing about him”.

When you imagine how God considers you – when you really on your own and not at a conference in your home – have you ever pleaded; “Don’t quit on me. Am I even looking like a Christian? What kind of a man am I? What kind of life do I lead?”. How does God see me? So often I imagine God as being austere and disappointed. To be honest – I would be disappointed with me. I am disappointed with me.

I know you know these things but to know it here in your head and here in your heart are two different things. You know whether you feel it in your heart here and experience and live and apply it – when you mess up.

2. Merciful Grace.

Whatever happens to you – if you are in Christ – I do not deal with you according to your sin. Jerry Bridges says in your best day you are not beyond the need for God’s grace and on your worst day you are not beyond the reach of God’s grace.

Here’s the good news tonight – because of Christ and because of what He has done for us there is never a day – the worst day of your life (and I hope it has been) – the day you know you have messed up worse than anyone and you think “How can this be?” – You are NOT beyond the reach of God’s grace and because of Christ He does not deal with you according to your sin. He does deal with sin – but He does not deal with us.

He is not even saying from the north to the south and thank God for that! That is a long way! You start at the South Pole and walk north; sooner or later you will come to the North Pole and end up walking south again. You start walking east? You will never start walking west.

Not getting grace so it impacts us and changes us. David wants us to get it, feel it, live it and be amazed by it!

3. Compassionate Grace.

I have got three grown up children now and they are all grown up and doing their thing. For most of you, you won’t get this yet because you are not parents – when you become a parent you will feel this and it will impact you. You will know that there is NOTHING my son or daughter can do. They may disappoint me and may at times grieve me. But there is nothing that will stop me passionately loving them, caring them, sacrificing for them – THAT is the kind of grace we experience that David is talking about.

We have got to feel this. This is one of the problems we have in some evangelical/reformed circles;

We GET the doctrine. But the doctrine doesn’t GET us.

It is not enough to hold to this and see the Fatherhood of God. God wants us to experience and know this – to know we are adopted into His family through Christ and this is how He looks at me – as a Father and to experience and know this.

4. Understanding Grace.

(v14) – “For He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust”. He know at times we fail and He knows at times we fall. He knows that we are not yet sinless. He remembers we are dust! We spend our lives trying to remember how good I am and trying to remind everyone else about how good I am.

5. Unending Grace.

How can all this Psalm be ours? You know how! But I will tell you – it is ours because God in love sent His Son to die on a Cross for you and me. It is ours! We look at this Psalm from this side of the Cross – not that. We don’t come to that point and think; “Forfeited!”. God is just! He proclaimed His Name to Moses and proclaimed mercy and the desire to forgive but justice!

To grow in Christ means to be more amazed at what He has done for you!

It is scandalous! Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said if you are preaching grace RIGHT then people will accuse you of making it too easy. I hope you leave here and say “No this is too dangerous – he said it is all free! He is saying you can live like we like?”. I hope you thought that! Because if you haven’t ever thought that – then you have never got it! They accused Paul of that – and he says; “By no means!”. Doctor used to say if you are not accused of that, then you are not preaching grace!

The biggest issue is not what you do – but what He has done for you and living in the good of it!

Pete then ended the message with one of the most amusing analogies I have EVER heard - and having a nurse's rather darker sense of humour, it tremendously appealed to me. He was appealing to the listeners to preach and hear the Gospel daily. He said;

"If you want to reach people with the gospel then feel it, live it, love it! If you are not like that – restrict your diet and eat the prune juice of grace until you are just flowing! If you are blocked up with religion then feed yourself the gospel!

In this day and age - we do not have the right to be "fussy" where we drink of the Gospel of grace. The Gospel is too important and too life-changing. We need to drink of every life-saving drop we can get! Or at least I do - and I resolve to. And I for one am so glad I heard this amazing message from this amazing servant of God today.


janelle said...

Awesome, Dan. I think you'd be surprised how much of this permeates SGM doctrine. My church recently went through a series titled "Grace Greater than All My Sin." We pretty much heard this for three months straight, and it was AMAZING.

Dan Bowen said...


Glad to hear it and I really hope that's so!

My question: if this is SGM doctrine, then why the accounts of hurt and abuse? What's gone wrong? And more importantly what can "we" (because I do count SG as family) do to set it right?

I'm encouraged from my lunch yesterday with Pete Greasley - an amazing guy who lives this stuff not just preaches it.

dave bish said...

I have four sessions on my laptop of Pete teaching this rich grace to my team from before Christmas - including the first session on 2 Samuel 7. Never had such clear grace teaching. He taught us for 2 sessions and then we did Q&A for 2 further sessions on what this looks like.

Dan Bowen said...


I am l-o-v-i-n-g the gospel of grace coming from this guy and that church, can't believe I allowed my stupid prejudices to let me miss these messages!

I don't know of many other such radical grace preachers here in the UK.

Are those links available? I'd love to get transcribing - especially love Q and A!

dave bish said...

You might have to ask Pete... there's a few points where he talks about situations in his own church that should probably not get broadcast online, but other bits would probably be fine.
It's about 8 hours of material in all..