Ephesians 2:8-9 famously declares, "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." The apostle Paul boasted of a gospel not dependant on human performance or achievement, but rather freely given to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
In fact, he elsewhere declares that those who would try to work to achieve heaven would miss it. Salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life are freely given to the one who humbles himself, repents, and asks for mercy. The proud Pharisee in Luke 18 boasted of his own righteousness, while the lowly tax collector simply cried out to God for mercy. Jesus declared only the tax collector to be justified before God.
The grace of God is the only foundation upon which the believer stands. Paul wrote in Romans 1:16-17 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'the righteous will live by faith.'"
To appreciate this good news one must first understand the bad. The Bible declares that God is Holy and that sin separates man from God. Romans 3:23 declares "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." There is a coming judgment and wrath for this fallen planet. So what is the good news? The good news is that God sent His son, born of a virgin, to die on a Roman cross.
Jesus Christ shed His blood as a penalty for the sins of this world. The Bible declares that the believer is saved through faith in His blood. Jesus Christ, God the Son, created all things. He Himself came to earth and died on a Roman cross. He was buried and He rose on the third day. He lives and sits at the right hand of God.
His work on our behalf is complete. All who look to Jesus, all who call on His name and ask forgiveness, all who put their trust in him - whosoever believes, can receive the free gift of eternal life. Jesus offers life. It is abundant and eternal and joyful. He gives the Holy Spirit to each believer as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.
We live in perilous times. The signs point to the return of Christ. Our tri-state area is teeming with addiction, hardship and broken lives. If ever this gospel was needed it is now. May God grant that the light of His Word shine forth afresh among us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
A loving and patient God longs for the restoration of his lost sons and daughters. May we know the grace of God in our own lives, and may we be emboldened to share it with others.
Roger Scalice is pastor of Streams of Grace Church, 455 S. Kirkland Road, Golden Valley. He can also be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 565-9611.