Previously, we talked about the fact that God’s grace saves us. God’s grace is offered to us freely, and it is this free gift (one we do not deserve) that gives us eternal life. Let us also remember that there is nothing that we can do to earn this grace or “work our way into Heaven.” However, that does not mean that God does not set conditions He expects us to first meet in order to receive His grace.
If I announced to the community that I was giving away $1 million (assuming I had that much money!) to each person who came to my home before Friday at noon, how many people do you think would come? Between now and Friday, I am quite sure I would get very little sleep and hand out a whole lot of money! But, let me ask this question: For those who came and collected the money, what did they do to earn it? Nothing! Although they followed my instructions to get the money, they did nothing that merited or deserved it. They received it simply because I decided to give it away. Notice, though, that I did not give money to everyone. Those who chose not to come to my house by Friday at noon received nothing. Only those who met the conditions I set forth received the reward.
God’s grace works in the same way. There is nothing we have done to deserve it and nothing we can do to earn it. Nevertheless, God still makes His grace available to everyone, even though everyone will not receive it. Only those who follow His instructions will receive the reward.
In Ephesians 2:5, Paul tells the Christians at Ephesus that God, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.” He further makes the statement, “by grace you have been saved.” Why were these people saved by grace? It is because they were Christians. They had obeyed God’s plan of salvation. Thus, He had granted to them His free gift of saving grace. They had not earned this gift through their own works, but they had obeyed the conditions given by the Father to receive it.
Paul elaborates on this point in Ephesians 2:8 & 9 when he writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” First of all, the inspired apostle made it clear that these Ephesian Christians had been saved by grace, yet this grace was given “through faith.” In other words, because they had met God’s condition of developing an active, living faith in Him, He freely gave them this gift. Second, notice that Paul says this gift was given “not of yourselves.” That simply means that grace belongs to God and is His and His alone to give. Grace never comes from us nor is it ever due us because of our works. In fact, that is the point Paul then declares: “it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
No one can brag about the good works they have done, because these good works do not save us. Only God’s grace can do that. However, these works do save us in the sense that they are the fulfillment of God’s requirements we must first meet in order to receive the grace He so freely offers. This is why Peter said to the multitude on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:40, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Peter knew that if they acted upon his command in Acts 2:38 to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” then they would have obeyed the Father. By turning away from sin and walking by faith, God would then bestow upon them the blessing of His saving grace.
Jesus Christ said it best in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” The person who obeys the Father will be allowed entrance into Heaven, because that person will receive the gift of God’s saving grace. The person who disobeys the Father will not be allowed entrance into Heaven, because that person will not receive the gift of God’s saving grace.
We must have faith (Hebrews 11:6). We must put that faith into action (James 2:14-17, 24). We must make sure that our faith is one that can be seen by others (Galatians 5:6, James 2:18). By doing these things, we obey God. By obeying God, He is pleased and happy to give us what we do not deserve, but what we so desperately need — His saving grace!
If you cannot worship with us in person, take time to “assemble” with us online! Sunday worship begins at 10 a.m. (Eastern Time) and Wednesday Bible study begins at 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) on our YouTube channel (youtube.com/channel/UCRX8fs9RZ-On52Upt2U4tAw) and Facebook page (facebook.com/sebringparkwaychurchofchrist/).