By Grace Alone
Jesus died so that we might live through him to the glory of Our Father in Heaven.
The doctrine of grace alone or Sola Gratia is the teaching that salvation comes by grace only, not as something earned. Salvation is an unearned gift from God through Jesus; God acts alone to save the sinner. The responsibility for salvation does not rest to any degree on our actions or belief, but comes from God freely through Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile all of creation to God and in the resurrection God showed his love for all and the promise that death is not the end of the story that God will save all. Even though salvation through grace is a free gift, we must accept the gift in order to be transformed in and through it. God gives, we respond.
This is how God loved the world: he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes may not perish but may have eternal life. (See John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1John 4:9)
Brennan Manning writes, “The gospel of grace calls us to sing of the everyday mystery of intimacy with God instead of always seeking for miracles or visions. It calls us to sing of such commonplace experience as falling in love, telling the truth, raising a child, teaching a class, forgiving each other, standing together in the bad weather of life, of surprise and sexuality, and the radiance of existence. Grace abounds and walks around the edge of our everyday experience.”
Only Jesus saves us, anything else that promises us that with it we will be complete and whole is a lie.
We cannot do it on our own, only with Jesus can we have eternal life.
We cannot do it on our own, only with Jesus can we know and experience the love that God has for each one of us.
Jesus saves us from ourselves. Jesus saves us from the lies of the world, so that we can live and love fully in the here-and-now. In Christ, we can live the kind of lives we dream and hope for, yet Jesus doesn’t promise we will never suffer or stumble that our hearts will never break. He does promise that in the darkest times He will be with us. Jesus is in the business of making us the kind of people that can live in the kingdom. Jesus is not a watchdog of the church, not a self-help guru, not a slot machine. Jesus is loving and welcoming, inviting all into the loving, grace-filled, beautiful and wondrous arms of a God who doesn’t need us, but wants us.
Brennan Manning: “The sinners to whom Jesus directed His ministry were not those who skipped morning devotions or Sunday church. His ministry was to those whom society considered real sinners. They had done nothing to merit salvation. Yet they opened themselves to the gift that was offered them.”
Jesus never asks that we clean ourselves up to be presentable to God and deserve the unconditional and limitless love and grace of God. In Mark 1, the leper went to Jesus and asked for healing and Jesus with compassion gave it freely. It was a gift. Not earned, but given freely. Jesus didn’t ask the leper if he was a Christian or if he had said the sinner’s prayer and tithed to his local church or believed the Apostles’ Creed. True, none of those things existed then. However, Jesus didn’t ask the leper if he was a Jew in right standing or believed Jesus was the son of God. No! The leper asked. Jesus healed. Yes, it’s that simple.
Jesus interacts with us in the very same way now that he did then. Not in a psychical presence, but he is still here. We need only Jesus. No church, person, book, philosophy, or man-made system will ever give us what Jesus offers freely. As Robin Myers says, Jesus’ “invitation was not to believe, but to follow.” We are not called simply to believe in some detached intellectual way, but to trust and follow. Faith is trusting that Jesus is Lord and Savior of all and if we say yes and follow then our entire life will be transformed in such a way that we won’t need proof of God’s existence. We won’t believe or hope God is real, we will know God is real.
Michael Spencer: “… the powerful changes that happen in the life of a disciple never come from the disciple working hard at doing anything. They come from arriving at a place where Jesus is everything, and we are simply overwhelmed with the gift. Sometimes it seems as if God loves us too much. His love goes far beyond our ability to stop being moral, religious, obedient, and victorious, and we just collapse in his arms. Out of the gospel that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and humanity comes a Christian life that looks like Jesus, a life Jesus would recognize. It’s a life that looks like Jesus, because Jesus does everything, and all we do is accept his gift. And to accept his gift, we have to give up trying to be Jesus.”
To respond to Jesus and accept what he already has accomplished in us and the world means to stop striving to be perfect and earn our way. Just let Jesus work in and through us for the glory of God.
I look at Jesus and see what is right and beautiful. I find Jesus to be the best and fullest expression of a human being. I want to live my life in the shadow of Jesus. I am not perfect; I don’t have it all together and never will. There are times that I surprise myself usually I stumble, sometimes I fall flat on my face. I am not as loving, selfless, or gracious as I should be or could be. I have hurt people. I have regrets. I have made mistakes. I need a savior and I am not so full of myself as to think I could ever do it on my own.
I chose the way of Jesus not because I’m saved, but because I go astray. When I say, “I am a Christian” I don’t speak with arrogance. I’m confessing my wrongs and need for a savior. I’m not strong, but profess my weakness and pray for the ability to carry on. I’m not bragging, but admitting I have sinned and cannot ever repay the debt. I don’t claim to have it altogether, my flaws are too visible, but God loves me anyway, God loves me in spite of myself, but loves way too much to let me stay that way. I do not wish to judge or point fingers at others. I only know I’m loved. I want to point others to the love of God in Christ Jesus.
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