No One Else: Stories of Desperation & Salvation

No One Else: Stories of Desperation & Salvation

Introduction 

  • His name was George. He grew up in a small town, but always had big dreams. 
    • Life had different plans, and through a series of events he found himself taking over his Father’s business in the town he so desperately wanted to get away from. 
    • Yet, he had a good life there, making a home with his family and children. 
    • Until one day, thanks to an irresponsible employee, he lost a large sum of money which belonged to his business and would soon face serious jail time for embezzling funds. 
    • Absolutely desperate, that night he found himself in the local bar, crying out to God: “God, oh God, dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way oh God.” 
    • Maybe this story sounds somewhat familiar to you—“It’s a Wonderful Life.” 
  • The best stories have a moment of desperation. A moment when the character has nowhere to turn, and yet somehow find a way. 
    • When we open our Bibles we see its no different: the best stories of salvation are born out of utter desperation (Noah, the Israelites, David, etc.). 
    • But, within scripture, it isn’t to lay the foundation to show the cleverness, wit, and strength of the human character, but to show the power, glory, and abundant grace of God. 
    • The Bible constantly highlights the helpless, and in so doing, exalts the absolute dependency we have on God for salvation—this is seen, within its greatest extent, within Jesus Christ. 
  • Within Jesus ministry, the most desperate people come to him—demon possessed, lepers, blind, lame, etc. 
    • They come to Jesus, not as a first choice, but as a last resort: they have nowhere else to turn, nowhere left to go. No one else can heal. No one else can help. No one else can save. 
    • We’d like to think that Jesus would be our first choice, but often he isn’t. In times of tragedy, like George Bailey, we go to every possible option, before finally turning to the Lord. 
  • But that’s ok—because the Lord only saves desperate people. 
    • People who realize that they have no one else to turn to, no hope in anything/anyone else; who accept Christ, not because it is convenient but because it is necessary. 
    • People who are disillusioned by their own ability and power, and simply reach out to Christ in a desperate cry of salvation: “Lord, save me!” 
  • Over the next several weeks we will look at some of these desperate stories for the same reason we mentioned early: to put the spotlight on our great God. 
    • Yet, I also hope that it will transform how we view our relationship to Christ. 
    • Too often Jesus becomes a convenient part of life, a good garnish on the side of life, but not the everything of life. 
  • Series: “No One Else: Stories of Desperation and Salvation.” 
  • Text: Acts 3:1-10; 4:12. 

Context 

  • Key part of the text: “Name of Jesus” (3:6, 16, 4:7, 10, 12): by his power and authority these events occurred. 
  • Immediately drawn to this man who was “lame from birth, being carried.” 
    • Drawn to similar situation (John 9:1-3). 
    • Jesus isn’t saying they aren’t sinners, but that his ailment wasn’t a direct result of sin. 
    • Even more so: don’t simply see people as what they have done, but what God can make out of a desperate situation. 
      • Like the apostles, our initial reaction is one of judgment and not grace: “They made their bed, and they can lie in it!’ Peg people down. 
      • Don’t misunderstand: we need to see people in their sin; but if we fail to see what God has done, can do for that sin we’ve stopped short. 
  • In fact, this entire context sets us up for grace and gives us a pattern that we will witness throughout our series. 

The Requirement of Grace 

  • Put in this man shoes: parents never saw him walk; not married; can’t take care of himself. 
    • Pitiable. So desperate has to have others carry (the impersonal ‘they). 
    • Contrast to Beautiful gate; he shouldn’t be here. 
    • People passing by. He has no one who can address his deep need for help (need goes deeper than the dollar). 
    • Side note: how many people do we pass every day who need a little grace? 
  • Notice the emphasis on “asking and giving” (v. 3-6) and then the final result (v. 10). 
    • Prerequisite of grace isn’t: try and crawl and we will help you walk; if you can make it to your knees, we will lift you up the rest of the way. 
    • Requirements of grace: have a need, receive the gift. 
  • Audacious. Have to do something to be worthy, to make ourselves good enough. 
    • Yet these are the mathematics of grace: your deep need is met by God’s great good. 
    • Contrast between power and piety of apostles and power of Christ (3:12). 
    • This then is a picture of our salvation (Acts 4:12): 
      • Have a need: salvation. There has to be a “must” when you come to faith. No other option. No way you can save yourself. 
      • Receive the gift through “faith in His name” (3:16). 
  • The only hope of desperate people is grace; remember they don’t have anything left in them—they are broke and broken, and grace comes in to save. 

The Results of Grace 

  • Grace recognized and received always results in transformation. 
    • Whenever people really have faith in Christ, when they recognize their need for Him, it changes them. 
    • Blind, see; lame, walk; demons, vanquished; addicts, sober; prostitutes, become devoted mothers; drunks become penitent fathers—grace has a way of changing everything. 
  • This man’s life will never be the same again; I doubt anyone could get him to lay down for days. 
    • This is the transformation of grace: from inability to capability. 
    • Grace makes possible for us to live the life God intended; in holiness and righteousness before him (Tit. 2:13-14). 
    • Literally rise to walk with new life (Rom. 6:4). 
  • Notice after: “the one who sat”: grace enables us to use the past tense; that’s who I was, but by the grace of God “I am what I am” (2 Cor. 15:10). 

The Response of Grace 

  • When desperation leads to salvation then adoration is the inevitable result (3:8-9). 
    • When desperate, hopeless, helpless, broken people meet a capable, hope-filled, helpful, healing God amazing things happen. 
    • This man went to the fountain for a coin, and he came home carrying his bed that others carried him on—that’s a reason to rejoice. 
  • The trajectory of grace is always praise (Eph. 1:6). 
    • Legalism, which states if you are good enough and just do the right things, then God has to save you—we praise ourselves. 
    • Grace says you could never be good enough, you are utterly and completely desperate, and yet God still saves you—Hallalujah! 
    • Grace is the fuel of worship; hearts devoid of grace are robbed of wonder, and therefore have nothing to praise. 
    • Like the difference between a man going to the Grand Canyon and saying “I’ve seen better” and a blind man seeing for the first time: “I’ve never seen anything like it!” 
  • Jesus takes desperate situations and makes them altars of praise for the glory of God. 

Conclusion 

  • End of Its a Wonderful Life, George’s prayer is answered: sends the lovable angel Clarence who shows George what life would be like without him. 
  • Yet, the crowning moment of grace in the movie is when, at the end, George’s insurmountable debt is lavishly covered by the town he loves. 
  • If you are hear this morning and haven’t received Christ, then you truly are desperate.
    • But if you will allow Him, God can take you and save you and pay the debt that you owe. 
    • You have need, receive the gift—there is no one else who can save you (Acts 4:12). 

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