God’s Amazing Grace is Received by Faith
These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.
God’s Word for This Week
Today we see the sincerity of our Savior’s love. God keeps waiting to show his children mercy. God is ready, even anxious to forgive us. He pleads that we come to him and be saved. Such constant and free forgiveness doesn’t make sense to human logic. But God’s ways are greater than our ways. If his grace were not so great, it could not cover all of our sins. We rejoice in God’s amazing grace which always gives forgiveness for all sins.
Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 12:1-6
Who alone can save us from God’s anger?
“The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation” (v 2). It is the LORD himself who saves us from his own fierce anger over our sins. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is God’s grace that he has turned away from us his anger (which we deserve because of our sins) and shows us, instead, his love (which we have not deserved) by sending his own Son to provide salvation for us through his suffering and death on the cross.
What does God’s saving grace do for us?
God’s saving grace drives away all our fears (v 2) and fills us with an eternal joy in Christ (v 3).
What does God’s saving grace lead us to do?
God’s saving grace leads us to express our joy in heartfelt worship. “Give thanks to the LORD…. Sing to the LORD…. Shout aloud and sing for joy” (vv 4,5,6). It also leads us to share the Good News of salvation in Jesus with others—our family, our friends, our neighbors, and people all around the world—so that they too may know the glorious things that our God has done for us!
Supplemental First Lesson – Judges 10:6-16
In this preamble to the story of Jephthah the judge, what do the Jews do again? (See Judges 10:6.)
The Jews again served many other gods besides the LORD. They did not worship the LORD or serve him.
What did God do in his anger to cause the Israelites finally to call out to God for help?
God let the Philistines (on their west) and Ammonites (to their east) oppress them, even crush them, for 18 years. Then they finally admitted their sin as a group.
At first, God said he would no longer save his people. They surely didn’t deserve it. How did he feel in the end, though? (See the second half of Judges 10:16.)
In the end, the LORD could bear Israel’s misery no longer.
Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
In what way is the message of the cross “foolishness”?
With this bit of sarcasm, Paul describes how the world foolishly views God’s amazing grace revealed in the cross of Christ.
For whom has the “foolishness” of the cross now become the wisdom and power of God?
Those whom God has called to faith, who believe the “foolish” message of the gospel, are saved through faith in Christ (v 21). They see Christ for who and what he really is, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v 24).
Supplemental Second Lesson – James 4:7-10
Submitting to God does not come naturally. List a few other commands God gives here that we would never obey on our own.
On our own, we would never resist the devil. We would just give in. On our own, we would not come near God; we would try to avoid him and try to create personal pleasure apart from him. On our own, we might apologize for sin, but we would never grieve, mourn, and wail over our sin. Lastly, humility does not come naturally to any of us.
Why would any sinner humble himself or herself before God?
James says that if we humble ourselves before the Lord, he will lift us up. (Note that James doesn’t say when or how; part of our humility is not dictating any terms to God, just trusting God’s promises.)
Gospel – Luke 15:1-3,12-32
What do we learn about God’s grace from the wasteful younger son?
From the younger son in the story, we learn, amazingly, that our sins do not nullify God’s grace. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). God gladly receives and forgives every penitent sinner, no matter how many or how terrible our sins.
What do we learn about God’s grace from the “faithful” son?
From the older son in the story, we learn that we cannot earn God’s grace by our steady service. God gives us grace freely in Christ. God’s grace is always ours through faith. (See Luke 15:31.) Therefore, we should not be offended when God gives his grace freely also to another, no matter how notorious a sinner we might consider them to be.