Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Gift of God's Grace

Ephesians 2:1-9 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

This passage of Holy Scripture will be forever one on my very favorite, because it is the first passage that I remember striking me to the heart with the truth that I was not “good enough” to get into heaven, as I previously had thought, and brought me face-to-face with the reality that I was dead in my sins and needed a Savior. I bought the whole line that “everybody is going to heaven” because that’s where you go when you die. It seemed that everyone around me believed this also … not like we didn’t believe in God, but that we believed that God let everyone into His heaven and we all lived eternal life happily ever after. It seemed that everyone agreed that the “good deeds” tremendously outweighed the occasional “bad things” that we did, which were never directed at God. Did you feel that way too? I don’t remember once saying: “God, I am going to sin against you right now.” As the Ephesians passage said, I was just gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. I know that I really didn’t understand what Sin was and God never seemed to come to mind. I was just “living the life” without a care, except what I wanted.

This passage changed my reality. I had sinned against my “just” and “holy” Creator God and the truth that my “not so bad” life was pure disobedience and transgression of the Lord. Transgression - The act of passing over or beyond any law or rule of moral duty; the violation of a law or known principle of rectitude; breach of command. I had taken God off the throne of my heart, my life, or my world and replaced Him with me. I accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, like a “get out of jail free” card, but never accepted Him as Lord. I, obviously, didn’t grasp the seriousness of sin and was playing right into Satan subtly-tempting hands. Looking back now, I see that I didn’t comprehend the spiritual, and relied on the physical … what I could sense (see hear, touch, smell or taste). Where was my faith? Here was my trust? For the first time, I saw the real filthiness of sin and understood that I was spiritually dead and deserving the wrath of God. I could not erase what I had done and the things that I left undone, and had no way to “earn my way to heaven”. I was so sorry. And then I found that I didn’t understand “grace” either. That next line in the Ephesians passage said; “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him. God’s grace is unmerited: undeserved, unearned and cannot be purchased … it truly is the gift of God. And with it comes that favorable influence of God; Divine influence and the influence of the Spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin. Merciful God to the rescue, to send His sinless Son to redeem me and you by exchanging our sin with His righteousness. This gift of God is the gospel. Faith is now in the right person. Now I live for Christ, for it is by grace that you and I are saved.

In Christ, Brian

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