I often use the following illustration when trying to explain grace: if I was to gather a few of you and your children, and my wife Karen and I began handing each of you an elegantly wrapped present, and told you to please open them, what would the reactions be? How would the children react? That’s right, they would tear into their presents with great delight and expectation.
But what about the adults? What would the most probable reaction be, mentally and/or verbally? “What’s this for?”
See the difference? Children delight in any free gift not caring the motivation behind it. Adults, there always has to be a reason for a gift. That’s why Jesus said:
“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:2-4)
Salvation is a gift from God motivated by His love and mercy, elegantly wrapped in grace. It comes by grace alone; you cannot earn it or obtain it through your efforts. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Apostle Paul greatly understood and extensively wrote of the doctrine of grace. It was the Book of Romans that most greatly impacted Martin Luther. Luther read Paul’s explanation of justification:
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
In Romans we can read, as did Luther, of this wonderful free gift of grace:
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)” (Romans 5:12-17)
And Luther, as did I, having been taught that there where works that one had to do to receive forgiveness of sins, learned from Paul’s Gospel (aka the Book of Romans) that works eliminates grace:
“And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” (Romans 11:6)
Being saved by grace means there is nothing you have to do to earn your salvation. You couldn’t anyway, but you do not have to. Grace is receiving what you do not deserve. Mercy is not receiving what you do deserve. Through God’s mercy and unconditional love for us, He freely sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to be the propitiation for our sins. We did not deserve it; we deserve the cross. But through Christ sacrifice we are freely saved if we believe, through faith, in Christ for salvation. Our sins must be paid for; they cannot be overlooked by God. Oswald Chambers explains it this way:
“Sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot touch it; God touches sin in Redemption. In the Cross of Jesus Christ God redeemed the whole human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin. God nowhere holds a man responsible for having the heredity of sin. The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin, but if when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from it, I refuse to let Him do so. From that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation.”
Dear friend who has yet to receive Christ, you have that seal of damnation. These are tough words, but they are Jesus’ words:
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:18-21)
Come into the light. Don’t listen to Satan tell you your life will never be the same. He being the Father of Lies is using the truth to seem as though it is a bad thing. You won’t ever be the same because you will be a new creation in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Come into the light.
Place your trust in Jesus.
Your faith will make you new, just as if you had never sinned.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers