The Message of Jesus: Does It All Depend?
A few years ago, the Princeton Religion Research Center publication Emerging Trends reported that 56 percent of Americans, “with most describing themselves as Christians, say that when they think about their death, they worry ‘a great deal’ or ‘somewhat’ that they will ‘not be forgiven by God.’”
The report, based on a Gallup Institute survey, goes on to say, “Such findings raise the question of whether Christians in the U.S. have an understanding of the Christian meaning of ‘grace’ and suggest the need for more effective biblical teaching in Christian churches in this country.”
Impossible to believe
Why is it that we humans, even we Christians, seem to find the idea of simple grace so impossible to believe? The touchstone of the Protestant Reformation was the biblical reality that salvation — complete forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God — comes solely and only by God’s grace.
Yet, the prevailing view among Christians today seems to be that when all is said and done, when all the chips are down, salvation depends on what we have done or not done. It is as though a great divine scale will weigh all our good deeds on one side and all our bad deeds on the other side and our salvation will be determined by which side is heaviest. No wonder we are afraid!
If we are indeed saved by grace, and the Bible says we are, then we can stop worrying and instead begin to trust in the heavenly Father whom Jesus Christ revealed to us, who loves us so passionately that he will never let us go. We don’t have to worry about whether he will forgive us; he has already forgiven us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” the Bible tells us (Romans 5:8).
Accept the gift
We are judged righteous only because Jesus died for us and rose again. It doesn’t depend on the quality of our obedience. It doesn’t even depend on the quality of our faith. He has enough faith for all of us. All we have to do is come to his banquet, to the place at his table that has already been set for us. Jesus said: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). That is God’s will for you. You don’t have to fear. You don’t have to worry. You can accept the gift of God.
Grace, by definition, is undeserved. It is unearned. It is God’s free gift of love. It is given to every person who will simply accept it. Maybe we need to think of God in a fresh way, the way the Bible actually presents him. God is our Redeemer, not our condemner. He is our Savior, not our destroyer. He is our Friend, not our enemy. God is on our side.
That’s the message of the Bible. It’s the message of God’s grace. The Judge is on our side. He loves us. He is not out to get us. He is out to save us and bring us home. In fact, he has already done everything that needs to be done to make our salvation secure. Why not ask God today to give you the deep peace that comes from knowing you are eternally safe and forgiven in his almighty hands? He’s anxious to hear from you.
Author: J. Michael Feazell