Grace _ Are you saved?
During a conversation with a person who knows you are a Christian, he/she wants to ask a personal question. You agree and the question is are you saved? What’s your answer? An emphatic “yes”, “I guess so”, “I hope so”, “I’m not sure”. If your answer is other than an emphatic “yes”, look deep into your heart and discover why that’s your answer.
I’ve been raised in the Church of Christ and it’s always seemed to me that we could not say “I’m saved”. Though there’s never been a sermon nor book that preaches it’s wrong, that belief exists. To declare yourself “saved” is overconfident, presumptuous, arrogant, replacing God’s authority. I strongly suspect it’s that we are hanging on to the thought that we are not good enough nor have we done enough. For me to doubt my salvation is a lack of faith in God’s promises.
For most of my church life, there have been very few sermons on grace. One evening some Christian friends were discussing sermons on grace and none of us really remembered very many. It has always seemed strange that we are saved by God’s grace, but we didn’t talk about it. The feeling of the leaders appeared to be “if we preach grace then the people will stop striving to be what they ought to be, keep on sinning and claim grace”. “These people just will not do enough work to earn God’s grace.” But it’s a gift not earned by works nor being good enough.
Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
I want to borrow thoughts from F. LaGard Smith’s book, Meeting God in Quiet Places.
Mr. Smith at one time was a law professor at Pepperdine University and spent six months of the year in England writing. Currently, he lives in Murfreesboro and still goes to England to write.
Chapter 6, he titles Snowfall. He writes about how beautiful the snowfall on the village of Buckland in England makes everything so clean and white. “Snow is a time of innocence long lost. Each flake brings freshness, renewal, purging.”
“How many times have you wished you could start over again --- to paint your life on a clean canvas, free of all the smudges that have hidden the beauty of the person you really are? I think it’s what I like best about the snow: It covers the ugliness and makes everything look clean again. It softens the harshest terrain and brings beauty to the unsightly. It hides the footsteps of the past and invites us to walk where we’ve never walked before.” That’s what grace does for us.
Mr. Smith points out that David pleaded for God’s forgiveness, saying “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. David’s sins were always before him. Do you know what it’s like to have your sins always before you? To be haunted by guilt? I dare say all of us have sins that haunt us – sins that are always before us, mirror-like, reminding us that we are not the person we want to be.”
Mr. Smith continues about the nature of God’s grace: “His love fills in the spiritual depths of my weakness in order to pave the way forward. His life fills my emptiness and makes the rough times smooth. None of us can undo the past; there are consequences from our sin that often linger beyond the sin. But God’s grace does what love does: Love covers!”
“No, grace is not a “cover-up,” as in some criminal conspiracy that guilty men are anxious to hide. God’s grace brings true forgiveness. And more than forgiveness, wonderful as that is, grace covers our heart in their brokenness. Grace is gentle and caring. It covers like a healing bandage to protect us from further harm. Most of all, his grace gives us hope that we can walk where we’ve never walked before – above the mud, above the muck, where a life lived in Christ is “white as snow.”
He closes with this thought: “As the Good Shepherd, the Lord of Grace feeds the hunger in my soul and keeps me going. For by God’s grace I am both covered and nourished, forgiven and sustained, innocent and secure”
Comments from Max Lucado’s book Grace: Max argues that “grace is God’s best idea.” “Yet it is an idea barely appreciated by a worn-out society. In the church we hear, “Serve more, pray more, attend more” and we comply because we want to be good Christians and do our bit for the Lord. The problem is, there’s no end in sight. No matter how much we do, more remains to be done.”
“Don’t you find it strange that we are driven to do good and be good, yet no one can answer the fundamental question, How good is good enough?”
“Bizarre. At stake is our eternal destination, yet we are more confident about lasagna recipes than the entrance requirements for heaven. God has a better idea: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). We contribute nothing. Zilch… Our merits merit nothing. God’s work merits everything.”
Thanks for grace in place of works! Yes, the Bible talks about faith and works but the end result is GRACE saves us! Can we fall from grace? Possibly, a future discussion.