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. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Once again, Paul reminds us that the “spiritual blessings” outlined in chapter one are not the result of our own efforts to earn right-standing with God. Salvation is the work of God and it is for His glory not ours. Salvation is not us trying to work our way into heaven. If we were able to earn our salvation, we would have something to brag about. As it is, our righteousness is not good enough. Therefore, all we can do is brag about what Jesus has done for us. Our salvation depends upon the grace of God—not upon our faithfulness. As children of God, we may wander away from Him, but He will always make a way back because of His grace. We are saved by God’s grace, and our salvation is maintained by God’s grace. This truly is Good News!
Because we live in a performance-driven culture, many view God and His salvation through the lens of the effort/reward system. Since so much of our culture is built on this worldview, it is easy to see why many would view God the same way. In our culture, we are taught that if you work hard in this world you will be rewarded. The message of Biblical Christianity is countercultural. Scripture teaches us that we will never be “good” enough to merit God’s favor. Instead, we must rely upon God’s grace and the work of Christ for our salvation.
I once heard it described this way: “Religion is man’s way of trying to build a bridge to God. Biblical Christianity is God’s way of building a bridge down to man that he couldn’t build for himself.” Religion puts you on a spiritual treadmill that will always keep you guessing whether you’ve done enough to earn God’s love and acceptance. Faith in the person and work of Christ will allow you to get off that spiritual treadmill and embrace the joy and freedom that comes from being reconciled to God through Christ. No more guessing!
In his book, The Ephesian Letter Doctrinally Considered, Dr. Lewis Chafer wrote, “God’s divine grace in salvation is the unrestrained compassion of God acting toward the sinner on the basis of that freedom already secured through the righteous judgment against sin—secured by Christ in His sacrificial death. Divine love might desire to save, yet be unable righteously to do so; but divine grace is free to act since Christ has died.” Out of His infinite benevolence, God pours out His grace upon sinners without restraint.
Our performance-driven culture grapples to understand the grace of God because the concept of grace is rarely seen or practiced in our society. We who have experienced the grace of God can only testify of it. God’s Word declares it. Jesus demonstrates it. The sinner receives it. The Christian is called to live it out. Because of Christ, we no longer have to get on that religious treadmill in hopes of earning God’s love. Christ has set us free from the bondage of our sinful nature. We are called to live in freedom because “it is by grace we have been saved.”
Questions to Ponder
Do you struggle to understand and accept God’s grace? If so, why? Have you been saved by God’s grace? Do you find yourself constantly performing to win the approval of others? Why is God’s grace necessary when it comes to salvation? What does it mean to extend God’s grace to others?
- Praise God for grace! As Bob typically says: “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” Thank Abba for everything He has freely given us. It costs us nothing, but it cost Him everything—His very own Son.
- Thank Abba that He has given us a robe or righteousness and garment of salvation. We have been made clean by the blood of the Lamb. In the throne room, Jesus states, “Not Guilty! He/she is mine.” Tell the Lord how thankful you are for His glorious grace.
- Invite the Spirit of Truth to come and search your heart and reveal any offensive way in you. Sometimes it’s shocking what He reveals and points out, but He does so with such kindness and tender mercy. He brings me to the place of holy sorrow that causes my heart to say, “forgive me, Lord, for I am a sinner! Have mercy upon me! I am so sorry!”
- Receive His forgiveness. Ponder the reality that He remembers your sins no more. They are wiped away forever! This is beyond Incredible!
Pure and spotless Lamb, thank You for taking on the sins of the world so that I may be with You where You are. Everlasting life is to know you, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of David, firstborn from the dead. Thank You for this amazing grace, Lord. I ask today, Abba, that You would wash over me and Your church at Oak Pointe. Lord, lead us into Your heart. Shepherd us today. Set our gaze on You, and incline our ears to Your voice, Lord. Grant us a willing spirit within us. Lead us out of temptation and deliver us from evil. Lord, I ask that we would each hear You call our name. That we would hear Your voice today and Your impressions upon our heart. Help us to listen and obey, to go where You lead us, and to say what You want us to say. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to abide in You throughout the day and to unceasingly pray. Father, I ask that as we drive by hospitals or nursing homes, fire or police stations that You would draw us into the place of intercession for those in the medical field. Protect and watch over them, Lord, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.