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There are Killers on the Loose
Scripture: John 1:14-17; John 8:31-32
Track 1 of 11 in the The Freedom that Comes from Grace series
Running time: 1 hour, 08 minutes, 06 seconds.
The killers I want to talk about today are the ones who kill freedom, they kill spontaneity and creativity, they kill joy as well as productivity. They kill with their words and their pens and with their looks. They kill with their attitudes far more than they kill with their behavior. Every church has these killers lurking around. What is amazing to me is that most of them get away with it without being confronted or exposed. The church more often than not gives these killers all the space they need to maneuver and manipulate others in the most horrible ways.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Freedom that Comes from Grace
There Are Killers on the Loose

There are killers on the loose today. I don’t know about you but when I hear that statement, it makes me pause a minute and I can feel the hair rising up on the back of my neck. But it is true, there are killers on the loose and we need to beware of their presence and the dangers they pose to you and me. The problem is that you can’t tell by looking who these killers are.

Who are some of the most famous killers from history? What made them so famous?

The killers I want to talk about today are the ones that don’t wear little buttons that give their identity away. They don’t carry signs warning everyone to stay away. On the contrary, a lot of them carry Bibles and appear to be clean-living, nice looking, law abiding citizens. Most of them spend a lot of time in churches, some in places of leadership. Many are so respected in their communities that their neighbors would never guess they are living next door to killers.

It is interesting when a terrorist is found in our country, the one statement that most neighbors say is they never knew the killers living next to them were heartless, cold blooded killers…they seemed like real nice people.

The killers I want to talk about today are the ones who kill freedom, they kill spontaneity and creativity, they kill joy as well as productivity. They kill with their words and their pens and with their looks. They kill with their attitudes far more than they kill with their behavior. Every church has these killers lurking around. What is amazing to me is that most of them get away with it without being confronted or exposed. The church more often than not gives these killers all the space they need to maneuver and manipulate others in the most horrible ways.

Can you imagine what it would be like living on death row? If you were sitting in a cell knowing that someday you would be going to the electric chair, what would be the tings going through your mind? What fears would you experience?

This day – at this very moment there are millions living their lives in shame, fear and intimidation who should be free, productive individuals. The tragedy is, they feel that is the way they should be. They have never known the truth that could set them free. They are like the ones existing and living on death row instead of living in the fresh air of the abundant life that Jesus modeled for us so many years ago. Unfortunately, most don’t have a clue to what they are missing.

The whole package we are going to study for the next number of weeks is the idea or practice of “GRACE”. I’m not talking about the grace God freely gives to us, but the Grace we freely give to those around us. Grace is the target the killers are looking to snuff out. Too often the church only talks about grace and how awesome grace is, but unless grace is received and lived out to the fullest, people will never understand the beautiful grace God gives to us.

True or False: Grace received but unexpressed is dead grace!

If true, then what does this mean and how is grace expressed? Give me some examples of expressed grace?

How is grace received? How does a person live by grace?

I want you all to understand this one true point; the by-product of grace is freedom! It is interesting when we look into the idea of freedom as Christians that most Christians really don’t know or fully understand what Freedom in Christ really is all about. They have heard of it before but how many really live freely and experience every moment in their lives. Once a person really claims GRACE in their life, freedom becomes a reality and grace then really is amazing.

How can you tell if a person is really free in Christ?

Let’s take the freedom test:

• How many of you have ever made an unsound loan?
• How many of you have ever voted for a liberal cause?
• How many of you have ever sponsored any extravagance?

According to Dr. Karl Menninger, the author of the book entitled The Vital Balance; the negative personality is a killer amongst people. These are the people who virtually say NO to everything. These are the types of people who cannot permit themselves any pleasures and because they are that way, you can’t have any pleasure either. They are the people who chronically reduce life to rules and regulations essential for survival. Unless you follow their rules, you are not accepted. Unless you believe in the God they believe in, then you are someone to repel. These are the people whose faces shout NO. The worst thing that can happen to a person outside of Christ is to run into a NO faced person.

What type of face do you wear? When people meet you, are you a YES face or a NO face? What is the difference? Yes faces invite us in and encourage us on. No faces hinder any progress and are not inviting.

“There is nothing more powerful to change us from within like the freedom that comes from Grace!”

Grace will not only change our hearts, but it will change our faces.

There are people we meet who have definite NO faces. You can tell right away that they are a NO person. But there are also people who from the very beginning are YES faced people, when you meet them you know they are open and welcoming. I believe that Jesus had a YES face. I have never seen the face of Jesus but from what I read about him, his face had to announce YES to all he met.

In contrast, Jesus was surrounded by NO faced people. His disciples started off with NO faces. The religious leaders of the day were definitely NO faced. They were lettered men, religious men, robed, righteous, law-quoting, professional men whose very attitude announced NO! They were pious without but killers within. There is nothing worse within a large crowd of “NO faced” people to inject one “YES faced” person. That “YES faced” person can really upend all the NO attitudes and cause unrest. That is exactly what Jesus did. All his actions were based on YES.

Listen to what the Apostle John had to say about the “YES faced” person of Jesus and the affect He had on John’s life.

John 1:14-16 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

What affect did Grace have on the disciples that followed Jesus? What are some of the characteristics of a Grace filled life?

John plainly points out the difference between the ministry of the Old Covenant and the ministry of the New Covenant.

John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

What was the ministry of the Old Covenant? The Law, rules, regulations, unattainable expectations, guilt, shame, duty and the constant focus on right and wrong. All of this led to judgment. Obedience became a matter of compulsion instead of a joyful act of love for God.

What was the ministry of the New Covenant? A revolution of the heart set in causing the captives to be set free. Bondage motive by guilt was replaced with a fresh motivation to follow Jesus. Focus changed from accomplishment of the flesh to heart felt living. Replaced the long list of requirements with faith…only the size of a mustard seed.

The change spelled FREEDOM.

John 8:31-32 “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

At last, a rigid, barren religion was replaced by a grace oriented relationship – liberating Grace. His followers loved it. His enemies hated it…and Him. Without a doubt, the earliest Grace killers were the Pharisees.

Grace – Understanding the Term

So what is grace? What is fascinating, Jesus never used the word. He never said it. Jesus just taught about it and more importantly, Jesus demonstrated it. Nowhere in the Bible do you see the definition of Grace but it appears all over the pages of scripture…not only in word but with numerous demonstrations of it.

I think the best definition of grace was stated by the Bible scholar, Donald Barnhouse:

“Love that goes upward is worship, love that goes outward is affection, love that stoops is grace”.

To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it. Every time grace appears in scripture, there is the idea of it being undeserved. Favor is being extended simply out of goodness of the heart of the giver. Grace is absolutely and totally free. There is no paying for it.

The word Grace is used to describe some of the splendid things in life:

• A well-coordinated athlete or dancer
• Good manners and being considerate of others
• Beautiful, well chosen words
• Consideration and care for other people
• Various expressions of kindness and mercy

These statements remind me so much of Jesus. Think back to some of the illustrations of Grace that Jesus used? Woman caught in adultery, The death of Lazarus – being accused for not having been there sooner, how he handled children, how he handled sinners, how he handled his enemies.

Does Grace mean that God tolerates sin, goes easy on the sinner? Grace is a byproduct of love, Grace flows from love. Discipline is also a byproduct of love, it flows from love. Jesus disciplined but he never turned his back…he never sent his child to Hell. Neither do we fall from Grace and get slammed behind the bars of the Law. He deals with his own in Grace…beautiful, charming, unmerited favor.

What can we expect to happen if we get a better grasp on the gift of Grace?

1. We will gain a greater appreciation for God’s gifts to us.

What are the gifts that we have from God?

2. We can expect to spend less time and energy critical of and concerned about other’s choices. When we begin to operate in a context of freedom, we will find we become less petty. We will allow others room to make their own decisions in life even though we decide to go a different way.

3. We can expect to become more tolerant and less judgmental. Externals will not mean as much. Our desire will be for authentic faith rather than to endure a religion based on superficial performance. We will quit laying a guilt trip on others who don’t go in the same direction we are going.

4. We will begin to take a giant step toward maturity. Grace causes our world to expand and allows our maturity to enlarge. It is like skydiving for the first time, going to a major university football game in a large stadium and never seeing a football game before or riding down Pike Peak on a mountain bike. These experiences open the senses and the world all of a sudden becomes larger and you are introduced to newer and better things.

Once a person begins to live a life of freedom in Christ, to feel and know the true wonders of Grace, never again will a person want to go back and be in bondage to the mundane life the grace killers want us to live under.