Romans Part Two: Dive
SAVED BY GRACE ALONE
For this week’s Dive, 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).
R 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. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
not by works
Paul is passionate about our salvation being based on one thing: 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 this one thing alone. We are not saved by our good works, we cannot earn our salvation, we cannot gain ‘brownie points’ with God or get a higher seat in Heaven by being a better Christian. There is only one way to get into heaven:
R 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
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.
but by 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 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 rather a reason to live for God. F.F. 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). Paul isn’t talking about a licence to abuse that grace, he is certain that in knowing that grace and all that Jesus did for you, a person would 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, that people would not take it and live their lives in the freedom and victory that Jesus gives us.
for good works
It is the same with sin; Paul is certain that after being set free from sin, a person wouldn’t want to live in sin any longer, all Jesus did on the cross would motivate them to live 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 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, a free gift from God, given by grace. 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). We are 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 out of love for Him!