We are saved by grace, through faith… We are saved ONLY by grace, through faith.
This is an important distinction because many Christians are trying to live by grace plus… grace + our goodness… grace + our efforts… grace + the Law…
True Christianity declares that grace + anything is no longer grace!
This is an important distinction because most of us are taught that God expects our good behavior, and if we don’t behave properly, He is going to be disappointed at us… mad at us… and punish us for our misbehavior. For verification, we often run to the pages of the Old Testament where God’s people were often disobedient and God was often irritated with them and spends a good deal of time expressing His anger towards their rebellious misdeeds.
Here’s the problem… That’s the Old Testament. We live in the time of the NEW.
The Old Testament is based upon the Old Covenant – God, with the Jewish people. That Old Covenant was based upon the Law – and keeping the Law was all important. The basis of the Law was human performance. You had to DO the Law. If you didn’t DO the Law, you had to DO the sacrifice (so you could be restored back to DOing the Law). It was an endless cycle of human effort to maintain (or gain) God’s favor. That human effort was the basis of their relationship with God. DO good, God was pleased. DO wrong, and you had to DO what was required to get back into His favor.
Paul points out that the problem with the Law wasn’t the Law (see Romans 7:13-14) – it was us! Anything that is based on human effort (and ability) is going to end badly. And the Law was based upon human effort. We observe that whenever human beings are trying to be good, or godly, they will always fail. It is just not in us to live perfectly, in accord with God’s Law.
But everything changed with the New Testament. The New is not like the Old. The New is based upon GOD’S efforts – God’s ability to do what is right, good, and godly. The main point of Jesus coming to this earth was that He would change the way we were required to live for God.
It is no longer about our willingness or ability to DO… it is about our willingness to trust in One Who DID for us. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law (Mt. 5:17). He ended the need for keeping the Law (Gal. 2:21). Jesus took our unlawfulness upon Himself at the cross (Col. 2:14). Jesus took the curse of the Law upon Himself (Gal. 3:13). Jesus took God’s wrath, for us (Ro. 5:9). And when He died for us, a whole new way of living for God was initiated.
Jesus came, and believing “into” Him became the way to keep the Covenant. Those who receive what Jesus DID are brought into connection with Jesus (grafted into Him!) and every requirement of God, for all time, WAS met in Him.
As for righteousness before God, there is nothing left for us to DO. Jesus did it ALL. Receiving Jesus, means we are now eternally connected with the One Who has already fulfilled everything ever required of us. And now we share in everything Jesus has done, everything Jesus is, everything Jesus has, and everything Jesus will do.
And at the center of all this… is God’s glorious grace.
Prayer Focus: God, help me to realize that You are not seeking my performance in doing right, but are seeking my complete faith in Jesus, and what He has done for me.