Grace, Faith, Jesus
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Grace, Faith, Jesus

Ephesians 2:8–9  (ID: 3390)

Burdened by his works-based religion, Martin Luther knew no peace until God’s Spirit revealed the Gospel’s message of grace. At his conversion, Luther acknowledged that salvation is not based on merit; rather, it comes by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. In this Reformation Sunday sermon, Alistair Begg highlights the grace and love of God, who works to call sinners to Himself. Whether we are weighed down by failure or enslaved to pride, we can find forgiveness at the cross of Jesus.

Series Containing This Sermon

Encore 2020

Series ID: 25911

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me, if you can, to Ephesians and to chapter 2, and I’ll read from verse 1 through to the end of verse 10. Ephesians chapter 2. After Paul has explained the wonder of God’s electing love, and then as he has thanked God and prayed for the Ephesians, he then goes on to remind them of what they would still be were it not for the redeeming grace of God. And in the opening verses of the section that we read, we have this diagnosis of the human condition outside of Christ.

Ephesians 2:1:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now is at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward[s] us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not [as] a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Thanks be to God for his Word.

Well, let me invite you to turn again to Ephesians chapter 2, and you perhaps may want to put a marker in John chapter 3. I’m really dealing with this matter this morning topically rather than expositionally, but as I refer to the passages, you may want to make sure that what I’m telling you, or suggesting to you, is actually there in the Bible. Before we turn to the Bible, we ask God’s help.

Father, thank you for the Bible. Thank you that it has come from your mouth. Thank you that you have preserved it in order that we might read it and in order that we might encounter Jesus in it. Meet with us now, we pray. Accomplish your purposes, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

I’ve recently been reading a couple of books by a British author and journalist. His name is Douglas Murray. It’s a good Scottish name; I don’t know if he is Scottish. One of the books on the collapse of Western Europe, and then his most recent book, in which he writes about The Madness of Crowds. And in his introduction to that, he makes the observation how both in public as well as in private, both online and offline, people are at the present time “behaving in ways that are,” as he puts it, “increasingly irrational … and simply unpleasant.”[1]

It’s not an amazing observation. I think any of us who has paid any attention to what’s going on around us would say, “I don’t think there is anything untoward about that assessment.” After all, the media, newspapers, magazines, the events of life, certainly the internet, are filled every day with the consequences of that kind of irrationality and that unpleasantness. The symptoms are there for us to experience, and yet, in its essence, we find ourselves largely unaware of the cause—at least from a secular perspective, which is the perspective from which Murray writes. At one point he says quite tellingly, “People in wealthy Western democracies”—which, of course, includes us—“People in wealthy Western democracies” have now “absolutely no explanation for what we are doing here, and no story to give life purpose.”[2] No explanation for our existence and no big story to try and make sense of where we fit on the journey of life in the unfolding panorama of our world. In short order, as per the children’s nursery rhyme, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot now put Humpty together again. We have as a culture fallen off the wall, and we lie in pieces on the ground. That may sound rather dramatic until you just watch one news broadcast, and you’ll find yourselves saying, “I must get that book by Murray, for surely, this irrationality is here on an ongoing basis, and this very horrible and angry world is almost all-consuming.”

Now, as I’ve been reading these books, of course, I’ve been moving in reference to today. Many of you would anticipate that we would immediately go to 1 Samuel 16, but I held off for one week, purposefully… Well, two reasons. One, I hadn’t studied 1 Samuel 16, at least not successfully. And two, because today is Reformation Sunday. And so I’ve been thinking, “Well, what would Martin Luther make of our contemporary dilemma?” And you know that I am a fan of Luther, that Luther studies with me on a daily basis, and every so often, I bring him out to meet people, especially on Reformation Sunday. And I found myself saying, “I wonder if people would be prepared to consider the possibility that the thing which caused Luther such heartache is actually the cause of our irrationality and chaos, and the discovery which brought him such a transformation is the discovery which provides the cure for the irrationality and for the unpleasantness and for the brokenness of our contemporary world.”

A Little Historical Background

Now, just a little history. We needn’t go through it. I think we’re familiar with it. You will remember that Martin Luther was a German Augustinian monk. He, although he was a very religious man, was burdened by the fact that his religion did not seem to grant to him peace. He could not settle in his own mind whether he could find himself accepted by God. “How can I,” he asked himself again and again, “have a sense of pardon? How can I ever know that God has forgiven my sin? How can I ever be in a right relationship with God?”

Now, remember, the way in which he was trying to answer that, of course, was by his increased religious activity. And you might argue that his endeavors in order to settle this question were almost unparalleled in his day. And when you allow your eye to survey history and your gaze settles on him when he’s gone up to Rome and as he makes his way up the Scala Sancta on his knees, hoping that by these evidences of his own despicability and of his own chaos, that somehow or another God will accept these as works of righteousness, you actually are looking at him there, and there he is in the spotlight, “losing his religion,” to quote R.E.M.[3] That’s exactly what is happening to him. And he’s realizing that what he has based his life on to this point—and some of you may feel the same way—has not granted to him the acceptance with God for which he longed. And since he has been trying so hard to earn acceptance with God, what a transforming discovery it is when he realizes that salvation is not a reward that is given out, nor is it an achievement to which we can point, but rather, it is a gift of God’s grace.

And in his journal he says, “And when this dawned on me, I felt myself absolutely born again.” That was his terminology. He was referring, of course, to John chapter 3, and another religious man, remember, who came to Jesus by night and was asking Jesus these various questions. And Jesus had said to him, “You know, Nicodemus, you’re never gonna enter the kingdom of God just because you are a religious man. You will never make it. Unless you’re born again, you’ll never even see it. You will certainly never enter it.”[4] And in that conversation, of course, Jesus was pointing out that he himself was the way of salvation.

Well, of course, Luther then discovered this. He had, if you like, been uncovered by this good news. You might say he was the one who uncovered it, but actually, it uncovered him. It’s always that way. It had been buried for multiple years under layers and layers of religious tradition, in the way that many people’s lives have been lived in the twentieth and twenty-first century with layers and layers of religious activity, and yet never actually discovering the salvation that is found in Jesus.

What he’d done was he had understood, for the first time in his life, the significance of Jesus’ death upon the cross, the significance of his resurrection from the dead, the significance of his ascension, and the significance of the fact that he was going to return, and he would judge the living and the dead. In all of his religious activity, he had never grasped this at all. He had never understood that Jesus had died in the sinner’s place, that Jesus had taken the punishment that was due to us by our rebellion and our disinterest, and that Jesus had granted to those who trust in him a righteousness that they could never earn, because it was bestowed as a gift.

And this brought about a transformation not only in Luther but in the whole continent of Europe and beyond the continent of Europe. None of us is here this morning, in terms of Christian things, apart from the fact that God chose to light a flame in the midst of darkness in the sixteenth century, and that flame has continued and will continue to this day.

Salvation is not a reward that is given out, nor is it an achievement to which we can point. It is a gift of God’s grace.

Now, the cries of the Reformation are five. And I think Luther would have been happy to join me by saying he believes that the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things. For certainly the solas, or the “onlys,” of the Reformation are clear: only Scripture, only grace, only faith, only Jesus, and only God’s glory. Now, we do not have time to rehearse them all, nor do we really have time to unpack even three of them. But I’m going to use three as the framework for the balance of this address.

Grace Alone

So we will consider, first of all, grace alone: only grace, sola gratia.

Now, we have read of this in Ephesians 2. This is not the only passage to which we could have turned. But Paul is here telling us about God’s kindness, about his mercy, about his love, about the fact that he has looked upon a rebellious people and loved them—that although they have turned their backs on him, that he has pursued them; that the story of the Bible, the story of salvation, is not, as the media often suggests, men and women that are out looking for God. Because I don’t meet many people in the course of a week who tell me, “Oh, I was just down on Euclid Avenue.”

“What were you doing?”

“I was looking for God.”

“Oh, you were? Yes. Well, that’s fascinating.” No. Every so often, you may have a conversation that goes there. But by and large, when I find people, if I happen to mention God, it’s pretty clear to me that they’re not looking for him, and they don’t want to hear about him either. Now, your experience may be different.

Now, the amazing thing is that the story of salvation is the story of God looking for us—that you may not have come this morning looking for him, but I can guarantee you in teaching this passage of the Bible that God is the God who’s looking for you. He knows you. He made you. He knows your DNA. There are no secrets from him. Your heart is an open book to him. And this is what Luther discovered.

And that amazing grace of God is then set against the background of the human condition. And what you really have in this section in Ephesians is, first of all, in the opening verses, Paul’s diagnosis—or the divine diagnosis, if you like—of the human condition. Here is mankind, left to itself, if you like. And it’s not a very nice diagnosis. When we go to the doctor, we realize that diagnosis is very, very important. That’s why they examine us. That’s why they take tests. That’s why they do the things they do. And so it’s very important that in examining the symptoms and then in providing the diagnosis, the diagnosis is a truthful diagnosis. There is no advantage to us in being given a very nice one if it’s a flat-out lie. We should run from that physician immediately. No, we have to face the truth.

And so, the Bible confronts us with the truth. We’re not going to rehearse it all, but I want you to notice it. There are absolutely no excuses, there are no exemptions, and there are no exceptions to this. Paul is now explaining to these Ephesians, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you walked. You were dead men and women. You were the walking dead,” he says. Now, what he means by that is, “You were spiritually dead. You weren’t responsive to God. You weren’t interested in God. In fact, you were very, very happy to have nothing to do with him at all.” He’s just explained the wonder of God’s amazing grace. He’s coming back to it again. But the bright jewel of God’s amazing grace is set against the black velvet dark cloth, if you like, of the human condition of men and women.

And what we need to understand is, first of all, that the Bible tells us that we were made by God, we were made for God, and we were made for a relationship with God. Now, I suggest to you that if you have been paying attention to the irrationality and the unpleasantness of contemporary society as outlined by Murray, unless you have a Bible and unless you are convinced along these lines, you will, like everyone else, have begun to explain why things are the way they are without any reference to the fact, “Well, wait a minute, we’re apparently not doing things by the Maker’s instructions.” We just got another appliance the other day that I foolishly ordered on Amazon. As soon as I took it out of the box, I knew I was in deep trouble. And I may as well put it back in the box and write “Sue” right across the box—which is essentially what I did. It’s far too complicated for me, and I’m so impatient that I can’t be bothered with the maker’s instructions at all. Some of us are going through our lives like that: “Forget the Maker’s instructions. I’ll work this out. I can handle it.”

But the fact is, you can’t. And we neglect this reality to our own impoverishment. Because inevitably, if we don’t go by the Maker’s instructions, we’ll have to go by some other’s. If we don’t worship God as he has made us for himself, we will worship someone or something else. And substitute gods can never satisfy. C. S. Lewis, years ago, in one of his writings, he says, “Here’s the situation: we’re too easily pleased, fooling around with ambition, sex, success, power, only to discover that these substitutes cannot deliver what they promise.”[5]

So we were made by God, for God, for a relationship with God, but we’re actually alienated from God. Here in this passage—you can read it for your own benefit as your homework—you will see that he says we are actually alienated from God. Now, alienation is part and parcel of contemporary writing all the time. It talks about relational alienation. It talks about psychological alienation. Social, personal, political alienation. You don’t have to search for it. What the Bible says is that all of those alienations—all of those alienations—are rooted in this one great alienation: that we are alienated from God, who made us for himself. And as a result of that, certain things follow.

Now, if you think about it—you may not accept it—but if you think about it in relationship to how we began, while this may not be an acceptable explanation, it is an explanation for the sense of emptiness and for the sense of futility that accompanies our attempts to make sense of life without him. Right? Why is it that we have so much difficulty in trying to make sense of the whole journey?

You see, five hundred years ago, when Luther was doing his thing—if we can put it like that—when Luther was Luther, there were parameters within the structure of the society, so that even though not everybody believed the things that Luther was going to proclaim, and others like him, at least those things held certain things in place. Churches were built. They were created. They were put in the centers of community. And not everybody went; some people went to the pub rather than the church. But they do recognize, “This is where I got christened. This is where I will be buried. This is the story of life. It is a linear progression. It is not cyclical. There is a beginning, and there is an end.” And so these things provided the context and the framework for thinking about things. Twenty-first century Western culture? Collapsed. Collapsed! Not only theologically and religiously but politically and socially as well.

Now, the third thing to acknowledge is not only that we are alienated from God but that God is not indifferent to the fact of our alienation. In fact, if you thought it wasn’t a very nice diagnosis to be told that we’re dead in our sins, that we have rebelled against God, and then, finally, we’re told that God is actually wrathful in relationship to this—that our alienation from God is two-sided. On our side, it is because we’ve rebelled against him, and on God’s side, it’s because his settled reaction to our sin is his wrath.

Now, it is at that point that people really start to wriggle in their seats. And some of them have no reason to wriggle in their seats, because the pastor or the minister, he’s been wriggling in his seat so much during the week that he’s decided not even to mention it on a Sunday. Because he said, “People do not like the idea of wrath. They don’t like it in any sense at all. And certainly not God. Because what they have decided is, you can either have the God who loves, or you can have the God who is wrathful. And we’re going for the loving one, thank you very much indeed.”

The bright jewel of God’s amazing grace is set against the black velvet dark cloth, if you like, of the human condition of men and women.

But that doesn’t work, and I’ll tell you why: because it is God’s love which is the occasion—or, if you like, the cause—of his wrath. His love is the occasion of his wrath. In the same way, for example, don’t you find yourself angry when you see those whom you love passionately harming themselves by their foolishness? Does the cancer surgeon not find himself fiercely angry at the cancer which riddles the one she seeks to save? Do you not find yourself angry when you look at the injustice of our world? In fact, if you’re not angry, maybe it’s because you don’t care.

You see, the thing to stumble over is not the idea that God would be wrathful, but that God would be indifferent. Could you actually believe or trust in a God who is indifferent to man’s rebellion, who doesn’t care about sin, and frankly, who says, “Just do whatever you want; it’ll all be fine in the end; maybe you can shore your situation up with another dose of religion”? No. God has made us for himself, we’re alienated from him, and he cares about these circumstances.

Through Christ Alone

And his provision, the expression of his grace—you say, “Hurry up, because we’ve only had one.” Here comes number two: not only grace alone, but Christ alone. Christ alone.

We’ve noted in our studies in the past that Paul doesn’t actually use the word Christian. In fact, it only comes in the Acts of the Apostles, when it is used in a kind of pejorative way by people who were not themselves Christians, and they referred to these followers of Jesus as Christ-ins.[6] It was a sort of, like, “Who are these people?” But Paul uses terminology the other way around, and he speaks about our union with Christ and being “in” Christ, and so much so that when he speaks in terms of the grace of God—the amazing grace of God—he never speaks about it in isolation from the Son of God. So, for example, in 2 Corinthians, when we have the Grace, it is “the grace of [our] Lord Jesus Christ.”[7]

Grace in the New Testament is not a substance. It’s not a commodity. That’s a medieval idea, as my friend Sinclair has helped me to understand. It’s not something that is portioned out by the church: a little grace here and a little grace there. No, the only way that grace is known is in Jesus. So it is no surprise that the great cry of the Reformation was not simply “by grace alone” but “in Christ alone.” Remember, when Paul writes to the Romans, he says, in a different vein, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in [Jesus Christ] our Lord.”[8]

Now, you see, when a person discovers grace, it’s because they’ve discovered Jesus. And when a person discovers Jesus, it’s because they’ve discovered grace. Because when you begin to read the New Testament—and some of you may never have done so, and maybe you would like to take a copy. I’ll sell these to you at the end… No! They’re free, out in the vestibule. But you could certainly take one. I did a funeral yesterday, and people were pinching them all afternoon. I found it quite wonderful, because I hadn’t told them they could have them. And so they were going out the door, just sneaking them. It’s really quite super. ’Cause that’s what they’re there for. They didn’t know that, but I think if I’d said, “If you’d like a New Testament,” they’d said, “No, I don’t want a New Testament.” But I said, “Don’t take the Testament…”

But if you start to read the New Testament, one of the things that will become apparent to you is that the story of Jesus and the words of Jesus… Jesus is not in the New Testament giving us instruction about how to make ourselves Christian: “Try and do this, and try and do that, and stop doing this and stop doing that.” That’s the story of religion. No. What—and this is John 3—what we discover, for example, in John’s Gospel is that Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, but he came to save the world.[9] And he didn’t come to say to us, “Now, try your best to clean your act up, and if you get at least up to a B average, I’m gonna be prepared to accept you.” No. No, he takes us with all of our Fs, all of our Ds, all of our mess, all of our brokenness. In fact, it’s only when we understand that that we would ever go to him for salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, [so] that whoever believes in him should not perish but have [everlasting] life.”[10] There are only two destinies. Two destinies. And there is no position of neutrality. Either we believe, or we remain in our unbelief.

By Faith Alone

Grace alone, through Christ alone, and finally, by faith alone. By faith alone.

Having quoted Luther, we should probably at least give Calvin a shout. And he says in his Institutes at one point, all that Christ has done for us is of no value to us so long as we remain outside of Christ.[11] And what Paul is saying here is that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith.” Grace is the source. Faith is the conduit. This is not a transaction whereby God brings to the table grace and we in and of ourselves bring to the table faith. Faith is not our contribution. Faith is our response. For the very faith itself, says Paul, is “the gift of God.” Because you think about it, you say to yourself, “Why would I even listen to the Bible? Why am I actually beginning to consider this notion? How did this come about? It didn’t come about as a result of argumentation. I can’t fully explain what’s going on.” And then we discover that we come to Christ only with empty hands. In fact, if you like, the grace of God is extended to us from, if you like, the hand of the Father, through the person of the Son, in order that I might reach out my tiny little hand and have it laid hold of by Christ. I wonder, have you ever done that?

You see, because it was this that transformed things for Luther. And it is this, the discovery of salvation, that transforms religious or irreligious people into those who have become the followers of Jesus—the realization that salvation is neither an achievement of mind, but it is a gift. Nor is it a reward for my endeavors. If it were a reward for my endeavors or your endeavors, then we could boast about it. But since it is not, then we couldn’t boast. So if we wouldn’t boast and couldn’t boast, we shouldn’t boast.

That is why there is nothing uglier than the religious snob, the person who in their proclamation of their following of Jesus looks down their nose at everybody else, like the elder brother in the story in Luke chapter 15: “Well, what are you doing with my brother here? He was a complete disaster. I’ve been here, the good boy all the time.”[12] You see, his problem is, he’s consumed with his own success. The other boy is dispirited and discouraged by his sense of failure. Fascinatingly, it is the gospel that answers both. Because, if you like, the pendulum swings in our lives either from the one side where we’re saying, “I think I’m doing very, very good; I think I’m going to be fine,” to the other side where “I’m so screwed up, I don’t think there’s a possibility in the whole universe that I could ever get fixed.” What is the answer to both? The answer to both is the cross. Because the cross removes any boasting from us, and the cross actually deals with all of our sense of failure and disappointment. That’s why it’s good news. That’s why it’s good news! Grace. Faith. Jesus.

Well, this belief, incidentally—the believing, the faith—means, as we rehearsed in question 21 from the Heidelberg, the nature of faith is to trust entirely on what God has done for sinners in Jesus. It is to look out of ourselves, not into ourselves. Why then is it that everybody doesn’t just do this? You know, I’m doing my best to explain this. I mean, there’s probably non sequiturs in what I’ve said. It’s not anywhere close to perfect, but I think there is at least a measure whereby you can track with what is being said. Then you have to determine, “Is what being said faithful to what you find in the Bible?” ’Cause that’s the real test. But then you’re still left with the question: “Why do people not just go, ‘Okay, I get it, I believe’?” Because I’m here to tell you, they don’t.

Well, the Bible actually tells us why too. And that’s why I said you might want your finger in John chapter 3. You say, “Oh no, we’re getting another one.” No, no. Don’t worry. No, no, no. No. What John 3 explains is that our natural human response is to run from God and to run from the light rather than to run to God and to run to the light. So why would we be surprised? That’s what it actually says: “[Here] is the judgment,” John 3:19. “The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” I mean, if somebody’s gonna burgle your house, they’re not gonna come at eleven o’clock in the morning when everybody’s around. They’re gonna come under cover of darkness. They might come at eleven o’clock in the morning and take out a few bulbs—the ones that are on the motion detector around your garage or whatever else it is—so that they can then do their things in the darkness. Well, what is being explained here is that our natural bent is to hide in the darkness—the reason being that we’re rebels, and we’d actually like to stay that way, at least for a while.

And so, when somebody who has been that way for a while—and we’re all that way by nature—actually then comes into the light, it is like getting a bad diagnosis. Because when you come into the light, you’re exposed. We already said that God—there are no secrets hidden from God. There is no way that we can hide from him. That’s why I mentioned in my prayer Terry, who was totally living on the streets and strung out on drugs. And he said, “I had to get clean.” He was talking about medicinally. “I had to get clean to discover how dirty I was. I had to get clean medicinally in order to discover how dirty I was spiritually.” And he came into the light, and the light shone on him, and then he realized: there is no refuge apart from Jesus; there is only refuge in Jesus. And every time, as verse 21 makes clear, that happens—every time somebody accepts the gospel—it is only on account of God’s amazing grace that this has happened; this has been, in the final phrase of verse 21, “carried out in God.”[13]

Faith is not our contribution. Faith is our response.

So let me end in this way. Let’s ask ourselves—we can just do this in our own inside, as it were. Number one, you say to yourself, “Who or what am I trusting in? Who or what am I trusting in for the living of my life and the facing of my death?” Then, “Am I ready to run to Jesus rather than to run from Jesus?” Because as John chapter 3 makes clear, the natural bent of a man or a woman is to run away from the presence of God. From the very beginning of creation, that is the story. Isn’t that the story of Adam and Eve? God comes to them in the garden, and he says, “Where are you?”[14] The story in the media is that everybody is out looking for God, as we’ve said. The story of the Bible is that God is looking for men and women. And you remember, in that context, that Adam and Eve went and hid. Why did they hide? Because they knew they were naked. It hadn’t been a problem to be naked up until that point, till sin entered the world. And so they decided, “We’re gonna have to cover ourselves with something.”[15]

And that is exactly what we find ourselves doing. By nature, we’re attracted to the darkness of moral confusion. We want to go into darker places so we can find a cloak to cover our unrighteousness. The Bible says you will never find that cloak, you will never find that covering, until you find that covering in the provision that the Lord Jesus has made by taking our rebellion, taking my sin, taking my indifference, and bearing the wrath of God, the righteous curse of God upon sin, out of the immensity of God’s love for those who are rebels like you and me.

Loved ones, there is no other story like this in the whole world. It is grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Christ is the only Savior, because Christ is the only one qualified to save.

Six hundred years before Jesus even came, Isaiah the prophet, anticipating all that will be ours in and through the work of the Messiah, is able to say prophetically, “I will [rejoice greatly] in the Lord … for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation [and] covered me with the robe of righteousness.”[16] Not that we have gone and hidden ourselves, nor that we have come out wearing our own best religious robes, but rather that we have come out of the darkness exposed by his just judgment and then gathered up in the immensity of his love.

“And when the father saw him, he had compassion on him, and he ran to him, and he embraced him.” And he didn’t just say, “Well, yeah, that’s a good idea. You should live like a servant.” No. He said, “Bring a ring. Bring shoes. Start the party. Let’s dance. For this my son was dead, and is alive again. He was lost; he’s found.”[17]

That’s the story. Do you believe it?

[1] Douglas Murray, introduction to The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (London: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019), 1.

[2] Murray, 1.

[3] Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe, “Losing My Religion” (1991).

[4] See John 3:1–8.

[5] C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (1949; repr., New York: HarperOne, 2001), 26. Paraphrased.

[6] See Acts 11:26.

[7] 2 Corinthians 13:14 (ESV).

[8] Romans 6:23 (NIV).

[9] See John 3:17.

[10] John 3:16 (ESV).

[11] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3.1.1.

[12] See Luke 15:28–30.

[13] John 3:21 (ESV).

[14] Genesis 3:9 (ESV).

[15] See Genesis 3:8–10.

[16] Isaiah 61:10 (ESV).

[17] Luke 15:20–24 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.