“We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ…” (Gal. 2:16)
If you are a follower of Jesus, then you understand (fairly well) that you can do nothing to “save yourself” – and that we are all truly…
We accept fairly easily that Jesus paid the price for our sins and that He offers us complete forgiveness because of what He has done for us. For many believers, this is the extent of their understanding of God’s grace.
But this understanding of grace is incomplete. And when we do not grasp the fullness of God’s grace, we spend much of our Christian lives trying to be good Christians (usually by trying to do a bunch of good things or by keeping a strenuous moral or religious regimen).
In short, many believers start with grace… but then move on to an emphasis on human effort. “God did good for us… but now it’s up to us to be good Christians…”
This leads to a “gospel” of “more or less.” I’m familiar with some churches where this type of “gospel” is not only popular, it is proclaimed as “Bible truth…”
“If you want to please God, you have to do more of these things (insert a long list of good Christian activities) and you have to do less of these things (insert an even longer list of things Christians should never be doing)… After all, God is ever-watching and He is constantly checking on you… to see if you are being naughty or nice.”
But this is NOT “Bible truth…” It is more along the lines of (what some have described as) “Santa Clause theology.” (He’s always making his list & checking it… infinitely!).
The Book of Galatians was written to address this exact issue: Paul tells us: “We are saved by grace… AND we must continue by grace.” And grace is always God’s efforts.
While it is popular to think that our efforts, at pleasing God, actually please Him – according to the apostle, this is just not so.
It is only God’s efforts that have pleased Him, will please Him, and can please Him.
That goes for our Christian walk (our everyday lives) now. Every moment of every day we are called to live by God’s efforts… FOR us, IN us, and THROUGH us.
Anything we do to try and ADD to grace (by our own efforts)… actually nullifies grace! That’s not my thinking, that’s the apostle’s:
We tend to think that righteousness is our gift to God… but righteousness has always been, and will always be… God’s gift to us.
We are not righteous because we keep God’s Law, or because we live perfect lives, or because we can check all the right religious boxes – we are righteous because of what Jesus has done. Only. Always. We can do nothing to add to the righteousness He has provided. We can do nothing to make God love us more (or be less dissapointed with us).
Grace is ALL of Him. Grace is NONE of us.
And the best news of all is that God has offered His grace to each of us freely… in unlimited, unconditional supply. We just have to humble ourselves enough to accept that, for the entirety of our lives, He has offered us a gift that we could never have earned… or deserved.