Romans Part Two: Dive
SAVED BY GRACE ALONE
For the Dive this week I wanted to look at a topic that is quite big but incredibly pertinent to our lives as Christians, and I feel like a child with Kindergarten knowledge trying to tackle a topic like Quantum physics. The topic that I am talking about is Salvation. The theological debate over salvation and how we are saved is a massive topic, even in the 1st Century church, Paul was passionate about not adding to the gospel message anything of works or human tradition. That is why time and time again in the New Testament we hear his call, that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8). We are not saved by works so that no man can boast (Ephesians 2:9). And again in Romans 3:20-24 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law, we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Paul is passionate about our salvation being based on one thing and that through faith in Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross. We can’t add anything to that gospel message. Even today we need to be really careful that our salvation and assurance of salvation is based on one thing alone, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not saved by our good works, we cannot earn our salvation, we cannot gain “brownie points” into heaven by being a better Christian. There is only one way to get into heaven and that is to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). That’s it, that is the only condition and entry to heaven. Serving in the church is not gaining your way into heaven, even attending church each week is not gaining your way into heaven, doing everything perfectly is not gaining your way into heaven. There is only one way and that is Jesus (John 14:6)! The Christian life is built on a foundation of grace.
Now I know that grace can be abused and some people get very nervous about preaching on grace because they feel that it gives people a free licence to sin. But as you read the New Testament you can see Paul’s revelation of grace is really quite different. When Paul preaches on grace he isn’t giving people a licence to sin but giving them a reason to live for God. FF Bruce in his book Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free states it perfectly: “Marcion probably, and Paul certainly, knew the love of Christ to be all-compelling power in life. Where love is the compelling power, there is no sense of strain or conflict of bondage in doing what is right; the man or woman who is compelled by Jesus’ love and empowered by his Spirit does the will of God from the heart. For (as Paul could say from experience) “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there the heart is free” (2 Corinthians 3:17).”
For Paul, Grace is such a key to salvation, without it, we wouldn’t be saved, it is upon the grace of God that he first loved us, it is upon the grace of God that he rescued us from death and saved us, it is by grace that we overcome sin (Romans 6:14) and it is by grace that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8). But for Paul that doesn’t give us a licence to abuse that grace, for Paul he cannot believe that knowing that grace and all that Jesus did for you that you wouldn’t be motivated to give up everything and live your life glorifying Jesus. Paul cannot believe that after knowing the love of Jesus, and the freedom that Jesus brings why people would not take that freedom and victory and live their lives in the freedom and victory that Jesus gives us.
It is the same with sin, Paul cannot believe that after being set free from sin why would you want to live in sin any longer, all Jesus did for you on the cross should motivate you to live your life in fullness for him. The more you realise what he did for you, the more in love with Him you become, the more you want to live your life for him. That is Paul’s heart. A heart set free will truly live a life of good works in Him. So, our good works are motivated not to gain entry into heaven or a better seat when we get there but our good works are motivated out of love and adoration for all the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit did for us. When we study Galatians, we are going to hit another level where Paul is really cranky that people are adding human tradition to the gospel message as though what Jesus did on the cross is not enough.
So, this week I pray that you would hear the words of Paul in Romans, that you are not made right by the works of the law but you are made right with belief in Jesus Christ alone and that it is a free gift from God given by grace alone. Nothing you did qualified you for it, nothing you do makes you more qualified to live in it! We live our lives doing good works because we adore the one who gave us the free gift of life. We live our lives motivated to change, be transformed and used by Him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Safe in the knowledge that we are justified freely by his grace and this is a gift to all who believe in Him, without condition, restriction or qualification. Be released this week into freedom, motivated to do good works because we love him not because we have too!