(Ephesians 2:8-9) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”
For an unbeliever and even for some believers, the above scripture is one of the most difficult things to accept in the Bible. When I first heard that I could do no good works that would qualify me to go to heaven, I was shocked. And when I read (Isaiah 64:6): All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. I felt like a grenade exploded in front of me. My thoughts were:- So all this time I was giving up my Saturday evening one hour from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to go to church was all in vain? And all those vagrants we fed on Frederick Street was for nothing? What about the different orphanages we used to donate things to, was that too fruitless? Sadly, the answer is yes.
Before I knew the Lord, I did what I considered good deeds, to try to make it to heaven.
Little did I know that it was regarded as filthy rags in God’s eyes. To be more specific, long ago in the days of the Prophet Isaiah, there weren’t any sanitary pads for women. What the ladies used in those days during their menstrual cycle were pieces of cloth referred to as rags. I hope you are getting the picture. You see, unless you have accepted Jesus Christ in your life as Lord and Saviour, all these things; “good deeds” come to naught.
Most religious people believe that you have to live good to go to heaven and they spend a lot of their time trying to do good things. They try to live good so that they don’t end up in hell. In other words, they do good because they are afraid they will end up in hell. What do you think they would do if they woke up one morning and found out that there was no more hell? Do you think they would continue with all of these good deeds? I doubt it very much.
On the other hand,
A person who has a relationship with Jesus Christ, lives good because he loves God.
He loves God so much because he understands that God sent His Son to die for us while we were sinners and that was the ultimate price that was paid for our salvation. I feel that if a true believer found out that there was no more hell, he will continue to do good works because of his love for God. There is no good work that we can do to pay for our own salvation. The main purpose of Jesus leaving His throne in heaven and coming to earth, was to be used as a sacrifice for us sinners to be saved. That is why just before Jesus died He said “It is finished” meaning, His purpose had been accomplished.
This is God’s grace. All we have to do is to believe and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. The grace of God is a free gift to those who choose to receive it. You can either accept it or reject it. A religious person or someone who does not have a relationship with God, would find it really difficult to believe in this thing called “grace”. What it simply means is favor we do not deserve. Believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died for us and repenting from our sins, so that we can have eternal life. This, is what saves us from eternal damnation.
Jesus Christ is the truth. (John 14:6) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The devil is quite the opposite.
He is not the way, a liar and death. Satan wants us to believe that we have to do all sorts of good works to be eligible to enter the kingdom of God. But it is not truth. All we have to do is to believe in Jesus Christ and repent from our sins.
Whenever I think of grace, I always remember the criminal on the cross next to Jesus. Obviously he was a bad person and that is why he was going to be crucified. The criminal knew that he was a sinner and he acknowledged it on the cross. He then realized who Jesus was and he asked Jesus to remember him when He goes to His kingdom. Jesus responded “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.” That was definitely grace. The criminal did not have to give any special offering, go and be baptized or perform any religious rituals.
All he had to do was to believe who Jesus was and he received the gift of grace.
John Newton was a captain of a slave ship operating between England and the West Indies. Sailing back to England in 1748 aboard a merchant ship, he experienced a spiritual conversion. The ship encountered a severe storm and almost sank. Newton awoke in the middle of the night and finally called out to God as the ship filled with water. It was this experience which he later marked as the beginnings of his conversion to Christianity. As the ship sailed home, Newton began to read the Bible and other religious literature. By the time he reached Britain, he had accepted the doctrines of Christianity.
In West Africa (1748–49), Newton acknowledged the inadequacy of his spiritual life. While he was sick with a fever, he professed his full belief in Christ and asked God to take control of his destiny. He later said that this experience was his true conversion and the turning point in his spiritual life. He claimed it was the first time he felt totally at peace with the Almighty God. He eventually renounced the slave trade and went on to become a clergyman later in his life. John Newton wrote the song “Amazing Grace” in 1779, when he discovered the real love of God. The lyrics go like this:-
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Before I came to know the Lord, this song was just another hymn to me.
Actually, I remember when I was much younger, I used to wonder who was this person called Grace? Now, it has so much more meaning. I can relate to the lyrics and I believe that most Christians can too. Oh, how wonderful is God’s Amazing Grace!
Lord, we thank You for your Amazing Grace which saves sinners like us. Father, we thank You for loving us so much that You would send Your Son to pay the penalty for our wrong doings. Jesus, we love You and thank You for giving us a chance to share eternal life with You and our Father in Heaven. Amen.