12 Sep 2021

Scandalous Mess Amazing Grace [Genesis 38]


The story of Judah and Tamar is an enigma to many. Not that the story is hard to follow, but the reason for it is not obvious to the casual reader. Whilst some think it is a story that simply portrays the ugliness of sin or a story that highlights the impeccability of Joseph, it is best understood to be a story that shows "Scandalous Mess. Amazing Grace. " The God of the Bible is a specialist at turning our mess into glory by grace. He turns our ashes into beauty. He changes our mess into His message. He does not do good to man because man is good (we are, frankly, all a mess!), but because He alone is good. That's the story of Adam & Eve, of the Patriarchs, of Israel, of David, of Peter, and of all our lives. So, do not despair even if you have messed up in sin. This is not to say that you should be emboldened to sin! But you do not need to languish, to wilt, or to despair in sin. Confess, repent, and rejoice in the Lord and His grace to forgive. Then walk in newness of life and serve Him. Heaven will be filled with people who were all messed up! (but who have been mended up by His grace)


Sermon Transcript

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We arrive at chapter 38, I think this is a very difficult chapter to preach, but this is God's Word, it is worthy of our attention. And that's what we will try to achieve today understand God's intent in giving us Genesis, chapter 38.

There are two words that I may summarize this chapter by, in at least the story by, and it will be 'sex scandal'. That will be the two words that would immediately I suppose grab your attention. Now, when we hear about sex scandal, maybe there are stories, there are incidents that may be stirred up in your mind.

For example, I may think about the former US President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. That's a sex scandal that is notorious; infamous till today! You might think about the sex scandal in Singapore with regards to politicians. Now, I'm not trying to politicize things, I'm trying to tell you how pervasive and destructive this might be. Or maybe you might hear about the sex scandal with regards to Ravi Zacharias, a well- known preacher and apologetics teacher in our day and age.

But the story before us is truly also a sex scandal, it's a sex scandal with regards to Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, who will become one of the 12 tribes of Israel. This is a sex scandal between Judah, and his daughter-in-law, Tamar.

The story begins with Judah going to visit his friend, Hirah, the Adullamite. Enroute there, he met this Canaanite woman named Shua (sic unnamed in the Bible), and somehow the two got together and they married each other. From their marriage, they will produce three sons. First, Er the firstborn, then Onan and then, Shelah.

They got a wife for their firstborn son, Er, her name is Tamar. But because Er was a wicked man, explicitly stated there in Genesis 38, he was struck dead by God. So Er passed away, and as was the custom in those days, when your husband passes away without giving you any children, it is quite common that the parents would then allow you to marry the second son.

And that was the case here, Judah got Onan to be with Tamar. Onan here, however being the second son was not willing to do so. Because if there was any offspring born out of this union, it will be given to the name of Er instead of Onan. He was not happy to do that but he had intimacy still with Tamar. Well, the Bible tells us, "He interrupted the course of that sexual intimacy and wasted the semen on the ground." So that was the first case of contraception or birth control we read of in the Bible.

What he did was wicked, and God specifically stated that He took Onan's life. So now Judah and Shua (sic Shua's daughter) are bereft of their two sons, Er and Onan had died and they now spoke to Tamar and said to her, "You go back to your father's house, because our third son, Shelah is still young. Wait for him to be of age, then we will let him marry you." But of course Judah never wanted to let Tamar marry Shelah, he has already categorized Tamar as a black widow. "She is a curse! She's a jinx! Both my sons have died after they married you, so you will never get to marry Shelah, but you go back home and we will give you news."

Tamar then went back to her father's house. She changed into widow's clothes and waited. Probably a few years elapsed, Shelah is now of age, but she did not hear anything from Judah. She ... she must have felt that this is so weird and maybe she started to suspect that she has been played out. So when she heard that Judah would now go to Timnah to shear his sheep, she hatched a plan, she changed out of her widow's clothing and put on a prostitute's clothing. She puts on a veil.

In those days they have what they call cult prostitutes. They are the women who thought that one of the ways to serve their deities is to offer themselves as cult prostitutes. So she changed into that clothing, put on a veil, waited for Judah, and in a sense ambushed Judah. Judah caught sight of Tamar. Now, of course, he didn't know it was Tamar, she was veiled up, but he could recognize from the way she was dressed that she was a cult prostitute.

And Judah struck up a deal with her. He said to her, "Lie with me, and I will give you some rewards." "What would it be?" she would ask. And he would say, "I'll give you a goat from one of my flocks." They agreed upon that, but she said, "It will take some time for you to get your goat to me, so in the meanwhile, what will you give me as a pledge?" Judah says, "I have my staff, my cord, and my signet or my seal with me, you can have it as a pledge."

So it might look something like this, probably not, this is just some artist's impression. But an idea for us that he has a staff, a seal which is kind of like your Visa, MasterCard, or your signature, signatory. He has it with him, he says, "You can have this and after our tryst, after this is over, I will send a goat, and retrieve my pledge from you." So the deal was sealed, they had their relationship and then they parted ways.

Three months later, well before that, of course, Judah wanted to pay off this debt that he owes to this cult prostitute, sent his friend Hirah, the Adullamite again to look for her at the place that he described. But when he got there, he couldn't find this cult prostitute. There was no woman like this! So he got back, and told Judah, "I couldn't find anyone like this!" And Judah says, "Alright, 'bo pian' [Hokkien dialect], what to do! I really tried to pay it off, you are my witness. Well, she will keep my staff, my signet, my cord, but I've tried my best. I hope this doesn't go out. I hope this does not become public, this will be a scandal, let's hope she doesn't make any noise."

Three months later, people came to tell Judah that his daughter-in-law Tamar is pregnant. "What a scandal! She must have committed immorality! Go deal with her, Judah!" So Judah went to confront Tamar and said, "What have you done? How could you commit immorality?" It was at that point of time that Tamar took out the staff, the same staff, the same signet, the same cord. And when Judah saw it, he was horrified. He realized that the woman he slept with is not just a ... an ordinary stranger, not just a cult prostitute, but it was really his own daughter-in-law. And he said, "She is more righteous than I am." He knew that he was the one who dishonored her in the first place.

So because of this story we see Judah, and Tamar get together in sexual intimacy, and from that relationship would spring forth a pair of twins. The pregnancy that Tamar had would result in the birth of Perez, which means breach. You can read of that story there and Zerah, these two sons.

Now, that in a nutshell, in five minutes is the story in Genesis 38. Sermon over! Well, probably not! Story over ... but you did not come all the way here just to hear me recap the story, but this is the deal, we've got to ask ourselves this question: Why is this story here? Isn't it?

I mean, the story is not hard to understand or to follow, if you follow that family line, that chart, you can have a good idea of what this story is. But what is this story really about? What is the spiritual lesson we must gather from this? I mean the Scriptures are given not just to report on facts, but the Scriptures are given so that we may understand spiritual truths.

So what is the story? And why is this story here? If you can recall what we have been going through in Genesis, it's a very weird position, because we just kind of transition from Jacob to Joseph, and then later on we're going to read more about Joseph. But right in the middle of the story of Joseph is this story with regards to a sex scandal. Why?

Well, if you have a hard time figuring out, if it be of any comfort, I tell you I have a hard time figuring it out myself. Of course, I have more time to figure it out than you. I had a whole week; even indeed I've prepared this long time back and it's not easy. So let me suggest to you what some people have said this story is about.

Some people say, "Oh, this is a chapter that teaches us contraception!" Now, I think from the little giggles and laughter you have, you know that that's probably not true. Yes, this chapter did mention about some kind of birth control or contraception, Onan knew about it, but I don't think God is using this chapter to teach us contraception.

Some people say, "Well, this is a sordid affair, this is a terrible sinful affair to teach us about the destructiveness, the horror of sin, how bad sin can become." Possible, I mean this is a very difficult; ugly picture. But then the question is still, "Why here?" Why this placement? Why between chapter 37 and chapter 39? Why? Doesn't quite explain it.

So these are the superficial reads that one may have. But there are two suggestions I think that are worthy of our consideration.

One possible reason why this story of Judah and Tamar is right here, is so that it may help your contrast. So I'm ... I'm looking beyond this story, I'm looking at the structure so that this story of Judah and Tamar may contrast very sharply, and very nicely with the story between Joseph and Potiphar's wife. That's one suggestion.

Judah succumbed to his sexual lust so easily in this chapter, but the very next chapter, we're going to see Joseph resist temptation so faithfully in chapter 39. So some people have said, "Ah, the reason why chapter 38 is given is so that we might see the impeccability of Joseph!" And again, it comes back to that theory, that hypothesis, that perspective that Joseph is a type of Christ, and we see the way he lived and conducted himself. That's one possibility, that's why it's right here in chapter 38.

But this is a little too isolated in my opinion. So whilst this may be true, I think there is a better explanation for all this. I think the better explanation to why chapter 38 is given is to be seen in line with the entire narrative arc of Genesis. The whole book of Genesis, so far if I may say, "Is really about how God is faithfully, going to work out the plans and the development of how the Savior will come as He has promised."

Genesis, chapter 3 tells us that right after Adam and Eve sinned, when it was hopeless for humanity, God said, "I will give forth an Offspring from Eve who will crush the serpent's head."

And the question then is that tension we hold on to for the entire Book of Genesis, and indeed all the way to the New Testament. Where is the Savior? How is He to come? Who is He really? So Genesis 3:15 presents this major theme throughout the Bible, there will be a Savior who will come.

And then we see that in Genesis chapter 15:3, that God makes a covenant with Abraham, "I will give you the land, a people, and that Seed. That singular Offspring who will be the Source of blessings for all nations." We are keeping to this trajectory. And then we see that this promise, this covenant is passed on to Abraham's offspring, Isaac. [Gen 26:2-3] Same promise. And then from Isaac, we see that this promise is made to Jacob. [Gen 28:14] Same promise.

So we are following a narrative arc, and to be consistent with it, I see that Genesis 38 is also part of the promise of the Savior. You say, "Why? How is the story of Judah a continuation of the story of the Savior?" Very simple, because Judah if you read on the rest of the Bible is the ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah. He will come from his line. And that's why in the New Testament, Jesus is also known as the 'Lion of Judah'. He's not the 'Lion of Simeon', He's not the 'Lion of Reuben', He's not the 'Lion of Joseph', He's the 'Lion of Judah' because Jesus would come from the line of Judah. And that is the emphasis made as well, when you go to the book of Matthew in the New Testament.

Who is Jesus? Well, He is the promised Savior! How do you know He's the promised Savior? Because He's the son of David. God promised David that, "He will have an Offspring who will have an everlasting kingdom," 2nd Samuel, chapter 7. So, Matthew says, "Look at this Jesus! He fits the bill. He's first of all the son of David as God had promised David, and He is also the son of Abraham."

Are you sure He's the son of David? Are you sure He's the son of Abraham? Yes, look at His family line. So Matthew goes on to describe, "Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac, the father of Jacob, Jacob, the father of Judah, and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar." [Matt 1:1-3]] And then you ... if you go on all the way to verse 17, you see, Jesus comes from this specific line.

So, Judah, Tamar, Perez they are recorded right here in ... or Matthew, chapter 1, in reference to what happened in Genesis 38. Why is Genesis 38 given? So that we may see that Jesus, the line of the Savior is perpetuated through Judah, even though it was an absolute mess.

Then we see the same genealogy or the same emphasis, at least this part given by Luke. Luke gives a genealogy that is from the other way around. So he traces from Jesus all the way up to Adam, whereas Matthew is from Abraham down to Jesus, but it is the same link. Luke, chapter 3 tells us that, "Jesus ultimately came from the line of Perez, who came from the line of Judah." [Luke 3:23,33]

So, it's not always easy to reconcile, I don't really think Luke and Matthew give the exact same genealogy. You see the names, they're probably different. And there are those who say that they actually trace both sides of Mary and Joseph. So one postulate is this: the genealogy of Jesus from Adam, I know the words are small but the idea is just to have a feel of what's going on. The genealogy of Jesus is from Adam, then you see to Abraham, then you see to David, and then from his two sons, you will see how it courses ultimately to Jesus.

Like that river, that spring and it goes and it breaks up into two tributaries and amazingly they come back together. So maybe this is one postulate. But the point here is this: there is no question Jesus comes from Judah and Perez.

So my suggestion to you, the reason why God gave Genesis 38 is so that you may see that Judah's story is integral to the perpetuity of the lineage of Christ, the ancestry of Christ. God is making sure that the ... the Messiah will come from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. And it is situated here so that you may now also see together with the story of Joseph. Chapter 37, Chapter 39 all the way to 50, talks about the preservation of the Jewish nation.

So if I may say, "This story is a confirmation, is a double affirmation about the faithfulness of God to His promise, that God will bless Abraham with a nation, and God will bless Abraham with a promised Savior." These chapters therefore talk about the Savior from Israel, and the survival of Israel. So that's what Genesis 38 is here for.

And so if you understand that, that God is bringing out a Savior, something good, something beautiful, something glorious through Judah, and you see that actually Judah was a mess, then you can understand why I think today's sermon should be entitled "Scandalous Mess But Amazing Grace".

That I hope is what we can see in Genesis, chapter 38. That's how I derive at this perspective, that's how I derive at what I think God placed this story here for. That we see that even though, Judah and Tamar and the family is so messed up in their sin, God's grace triumphs over the disgrace and works out something beautiful, something amazing!

We would have thought the family line of Jesus would be filled with impeccable people. Oh no! The family line of Jesus is filled with the Tamars and Judahs, and yet God works beautiful glory out of this mess. And you know, if you really sit down to think about it, this is the story of not just chapter 38, this is the story of the Bible.

The Bible tells us of man's scandalous mess and at the same time, God's amazing grace. In our minds, we always think that we are way better than what, who we really are, and God is not as good as who He says He is. But when you look at the Bible over and over again, you will realize that we are a people of scandalous mess, of a ... of terrible sin. And yet God is a God of amazing grace, when we are so messed up, He would still be so good to us. That is the story of the Bible!

I ... I take you through some of the examples that are very obvious. For ... for instance, think about the very first mess in humanity, in the history of mankind when Adam and Eve chose to listen to the devil and sinned against God. It is a terrible mess! When God gave Adam and Eve everything, they threw it all away and say, "I'd rather listen to the devil. I'd rather listen to my own lusts." And they sinned.

And there are many people in this world who say, "I can't believe in a God like this, because how can He allow this mess to take place? Why can't God stop the devil? Why can't God just snatch the fruit from Eve's hand? Why can't God do that?" Let me tell you, "God could have easily done that." But let me tell you also that, "God intended for Adam and Eve to do that."

Now, let me be very careful, I'm not saying that, "God stirred Adam and Eve to sin." I'm not saying that, "God motivated Adam and Eve to sin." I'm not saying that, "God made Adam and Eve to sin. The culpability and guilt is on Adam and Eve."' No question! But He did allow this to happen. You say, "What! You mean God allow this to happen?" Yes. "But this is a scandalous mess!" Yes it is, but it is an opportunity then for the great God to display His amazing grace.

I'm not saying this out of mere hypothesis, I think the Scriptures tell us that, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to the praise of His glorious grace." [Eph 1:4] Now, this is a familiar perspective and doctrine I've taught in this church over and over again. I'm suggesting to you that Adam and Eve's sin is not an afterthought. It's not as if God is caught by surprise, "Ah, I didn't realize that they would sin! Ah, I shouldn't have placed them in the garden of Eden!" No, no, no, no, no, no!

God knew; God ordained that Adam and Eve would sin, without Him injecting evil in their hearts. He is not tempted by evil, neither does He tempt any man. He's not the author of sin, but He did allow it. The reason why I know He did allow it, even before they were made is because the Bible tells us, God chose us in Jesus, before the foundation of the world, even before the world was made, this is already God's plan. And the reason why He made this world, He allowed men to sin, He allowed this mess to come in is so that at the end of it all, when He works out redemption's plan, there will be a whole new redeemed creation and humanity, "Who will show forth the praise of His glorious grace." [Eph 1:6]

This sinful scandalous mess allows for God's bright glory to shine forth. And over and over again, Paul says here in verse 6 and in verse 12, "This is to the praise of His glory." "Scandalous Mess, Amazing Grace!" And this brings glory to God.

John Stott, he said, Grace and glory go together. Glory is the end; grace is the means to it. There can be no glory, at least in redemption's plan without grace."

Why scandalous mess? So that there would be amazing grace. Why amazing grace? So that there'll be glory to God. This is why things happen as they are. So when you have a throwback to Genesis and think about the mess there, please do not think that God has lost control, or that he was caught off guard. It was all part of His sovereign plan to manifest His grace and work towards His ultimate glory - scandalous mess, amazing grace.

Not just the story of Genesis 3, but really the story of Genesis in the stories of the patriarchs. Now, the good thing about all of us going through the book systematically is that I can say now that, "You know the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Were they great people? Were they perfect people? Were they flawless people? No, they were messed up! They had their sins, they had their compromises. But you know what, even though they had scandalous mess in their own lives, we see God's amazing grace shine through."

And of course last week, we looked at the mess that the brothers of Joseph made. They wanted to kill their own brother. It was a mess! But without telling you too much, I would say that, "The mess that the brothers created ended up as a means to show off God's amazing grace to preserve the nation of Israel, and that brings glory to God."

Think about the nation of Israel, they were a mess. God saved them from Egypt, from slavery therein, and then immediately, they worshipped idols. And the rest of their history is littered with terrible stories of how they turned to other gods. They are a mess! But I also tell you that the nation of Israel is a nation that brings forth the amazing grace of God. And that is what you will read in the Bible, in the New Testament, and indeed throughout church history and in the time to come.

How about this: Israel, the Jews by and large reject the Messiah, it's a mess! That the people of God, themselves as a nation at least will reject the God of Israel. "It's a mess!" you say. But let me tell you, "It's a story of grace." How? How is the story of Jews rejecting Jesus Christ today a story of grace of God? Very simple, Romans 11.

Paul tells us, "The rejection of God by the Jews has turned out to be a blessing to the Gentiles." Because now, God is saving Gentile people in great numbers, but the saving of Gentiles is not just for the Gentiles alone, but that God is allowing Gentiles to be saved, so as "To provoke the Jews now to jealousy." They will look at the Gentiles and say, "Wow, so many are being blessed! What about us?"

And there will come a time when many, many Jews would also be saved. And when many Jews are saved, they will go out into all the world and preach the Gospel. There's no people like the Jews, probably. And when they are saved, they will go out into the world and then even more Gentiles will be saved.

So this is the mysterious, but the spelt out plan of God with regards to the mess that the Jews are in today. They reject God but God is going to use that to bless the Gentiles, so that the Jews will be saved in greater numbers, and ultimately even more throughout the world will be saved.

So when Paul thinks about that plan, he can't help but break out in exaltation. He can't help but break out in amazement, and he says, "Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen." [Rom 11:36]

What is this? Scandalous Mess, Amazing Grace, to the glory of God! It's not just chapter 38, it's the story of the Bible, it's the story of human history, captured geniously by Moses in this microcosm here between Judah and Tamar.

So I say to you, "This is unique! Religions all around the world say, "Be good, so that you earn God's favor." The Bible says, "You are no good. You are a mess, but God is so good, He grants Amazing Grace."' What then do we take away from this?

Well, some people, I say tragically may end up with this thinking. They say, "Ah, let's sin! Oh, at least we are now free to sin, since God will turn them into stories of grace! It's okay to get into a mess. We should sin all we want, then it will show forth grace!" Well, if you think like that, you're exactly what Paul warned against in Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?" Oh, what a perverse way of thinking! He says, "By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

No, of course not! The aim of the Bible in extolling the grace of God is not that we will use this as an excuse for our lustful, fleshly lifestyle. Of course not! By the way, if you think that you can always sin and always get away with it, I think the story here tells us you won't. Er sinned against God, he was struck dead. Onan sinned against God, he was struck dead. So, sometimes God does allow you to be struck dead, sometimes He doesn't, sometimes He does and certainly we should not therefore take things for granted.

But in any case, the key thing as to why we should not sin against God is because we know His love, we know His grace, and we must not take it for granted.

So, the point of the sermon here about "Scandalous Mess, Amazing Grace" is not giving you a cloak of cover to say, "I can sin all I want." But I hope to encourage you, I hope to grant hope, I hope to help you away from a period of languishing and wilting away and despair because some people may feel absolutely downcast, because you have messed up in life. You have sinned against God and you feel like there's no way back. God can never forgive you, God can never use you, you have really messed up, and it's the end for you.

I want to say to you, "It doesn't always have to be like this. You don't have to wilt away. You don't have to wallow in despair. You don't have to give up on your spiritual life." I say today that, "God is a specialist at turning our messy situations around for His glory, by giving you amazing grace."

Now again, I'm not saying this out of thin air because I read in the Bible stories about God, turning the sins of individuals for His own glory. God can still use a man who has fallen into sin. I ... I share with you the story of David. Amazing! Scandalous mess, but amazing grace! David had adultery with Bathsheba and in order to cover up this sin, he instigated and schemed the death of his faithful general, Uriah.

It was absolutely wicked! It was a scandalous mess! I mean if there was social media in David's time, it will be all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, and whatever you have. It will be the talk of the town, COVID won't even be right up there. It was a mess! But God sent a prophet, spoke to David, and David was convicted of his sin. I think, as a result of that he gave us Psalm 51:12-13, amongst other Psalms. And he said, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, uphold me with a willing spirit, then I will teach transgressors Your ways."

I think this is so significant. He didn't say, "Oh let me wallow in my despair. I'm a no-gooder, I'm useless now!" But he understands that when God forgives him of his sins, he can still be useful for the glory of God, "Then I will teach transgressors Your ways." So don't give up on your life! God did not take you home, if He decided to take you home, you will be like Er and Onan. Gone! But if He has left you here, He has not given up on you.

How about Peter in the New Testament? Well, you all know the story of how Peter was so arrogant, he was so confident in himself. He said, "Even if others would betray you and leave You, I'll never deny You. I'll never leave You." Well, just as Jesus had told him, he denied the Lord Jesus Christ three times.

He was filled with remorse; with sadness; with sorrow. He did not pray because he thought he could do it. He messed up! It became, I think the talk of the town. "Hah, the disciple of Jesus, what a coward! He messed up!"

But he did not give up on his life in and indeed Jesus did not give up on Peter. Jesus restored Peter in John, chapter 20. And then we see later on, I suppose, this story of how Peter under-estimated the wiles of the devil and overestimated himself came into full picture, when he wrote his epistle, 1st Peter. I think it must be that he had thought about this, how he was in a sense a prey to the devil, because he was not vigilant, he was not alert. And so he writes to the diaspora, he writes to the people scattered throughout, the people of Israel, he says, "Be sober minded, be watchful for the devil is like a roaring lion." [1 Peter 5:8]

Well, God still used Peter in a wonderful way, isn't it? God used Peter after his sin, to open the gates of blessings to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, to open the gates of blessings to the Samaritans in Acts chapter 8. To open a gate of blessings to the Gentiles in Acts chapter 10 in Cornelius's house. Well, Peter is still used by God, even though he was a mess. And why do you think God will give up on you?

Yes, I've messed up, you've messed up! Maybe today you have messed up in your marriage, you're a divorcee. Maybe you have messed up in parenting, your kids are a mess. Maybe you have messed up in ministry, you have done wrong things, you have made poor decisions, but it's not over. I'm not saying, "Keep on sinning. I'm not saying keep on doing mistakes." I'm not saying, "Keep on being careless about walking with God." I'm not saying these things, but I'm saying that, "Even after these things, it does not mean the end of a meaningful; healthy; faithful; fruitful walk with God."

Confess your sin, trust in God's offer of forgiveness, and walk in that newness of life. Our God is a master at turning our mess into a message, and into a ministry. He can turn ashes into beauty, because that's what He specializes in doing, scandalous mess, amazing grace for the glory of God.

So I just want to end: Are you living in a scandalous mess? Don't keep at it, but confess your sin, repent, turn. What a beautiful promise it is in first John 1:9, you realize? "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Be confident about God's amazing grace. You may not even find it in yourself to forgive yourself. But realize that God has said He will forgive if you're willing to confess, and then rest in that promise of God. He is faithful and just. It's not ... it's not appealing to the grace and mercy of God anymore, it's appealing to the faithfulness, and the justice of God, because He sent His Son Jesus to die for your sins. It cannot be that when you confess your sins, He will not forgive. He must forgive!

And that speaks of His amazing grace, that's the story of Genesis 38. Story of the Bible, the story I hope of all our lives. I want to say a word to friends, guests who are new today. You're not a Christian, I'm glad you're here. I want to tell you today that your life like mine, must be a mess. We have sinned, we have done wrong things, we are filled with guilt, and shame, and fear. But the Bible is not about people, it's not giving a message to people to say, "Shape up, and then come to God." It's a message that says, "You can never shape up. You are messed up." But God is so great and so gracious and so merciful that if you're just willing to come as you are, in all your scandalous mess, He's going to pour out His amazing grace on you and lift you up. That is the Gospel! That is the Good News of Jesus Christ!

You know when we go to Heaven? Heaven, the new heaven and new earth will be filled with people. What kind of people? Perfect people, sinless people in their lifetime here? No! it will be filled with people who are messed up, previously messed up, but now all mended up! It will be filled with people who would say "Yes, I was an ... I was a scandalous mess, but God poured His amazing grace on me."

As John Newton said in his last years, he said, "My memory is fading. But there are two things I remember, "I am a great sinner, and God is a Great Savior." That is what means to the praise of the glory of His grace forevermore.

My friends, look to the cross. The cross was a scandalous mess. That the creature would crucify the Creator, that sinful man would crucify the sinless Son of God. But the cross is the story of scandalous mess and amazing grace. That's what Christianity is all about. And I pray as followers of Jesus Christ, we will really receive this into our hearts. And for all friends and guests who are here, I pray you will come to the cross of Jesus Christ and be saved. This is the Good News!

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

What grace is mine! Lord, we thank You that You're such an amazing God, not just amazing in wisdom and intelligence and power and knowledge, but You are such an amazing God in grace, in mercy, in love.

We don't even understand how gracious You are until we begin to see how messed up we are. How messed up Abraham was, Isaac was, Jacob was, Judah was! And so we thank You for the stories in the Bible, that brings across this sharp contrast that we might be a people, who would begin to understand more and more, Your amazing grace.

May our hearts today soak in this message of the Good News. O Lord, help us to then drink in this Good News, this Gospel. That Your love will melt our hearts and inspire and motivate us to worship You, and to live out the Gospel. We pray that we will be a people who will faithfully go out and give out the Gospel.

Father, please encourage those whose hands have dropped, whose hearts are down, whose eyes are kept low. Help them to see that they do not need to languish or wilt away, but that they can be confident in Your merciful forgiveness and turn back and walk with You.

We pray for salvation for souls. And we pray that You will be glorified through the preaching of Your Word today. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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