As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:1-5, 8-9 (NIV)
Let your mind consider the richness of the verses above from Ephesians 2. Consider each statement and what it means for you as a Christian. Let God impress upon you the situation you used to find yourself in before committing your life to Christ, as well as your new position in him.
Grace is one of those words we use in the Christian life, words that mean a lot to us, but which are often hard to explain to those who have not as yet accepted Christ as their Saviour.
Grace is usually defined as God’s ‘unmerited favour’. Why did God choose to make it unmerited? Surely it would have been better if God had allowed mankind to be good and do good things as a sign that they were worthy of salvation. If man’s natural inclination is to want to do good deeds, then why not accommodate it? The verses above from Ephesians 2 tell us that because of our sin we were deserving of death. There is nothing we could do that would cancel or balance out our sin. In that situation God could not wait for us to become good, or do good works, as it would never happen. God also knows that another weakness lurks in our hearts. If we could earn our salvation, then we might have a tendency to boast. Human beings have an inclination to boast about things and particularly to compare themselves to those around them. God sees all mankind as equally deserving of condemnation and equally undeserving of his offer of salvation. In other words God treats us all the same.
Grace means that although God could rightly condemn us for our sin, he chooses to present an offer of mercy to us, based on what Jesus has achieved on the cross. This is not based on anything we have done or could do. Ephesians describes this as a ‘gift’. As a gift it is freely offered and available. So why is it that society still thinks that you can be good and go to heaven?
Pray that in your conversations with people you can clearly explain how God’s gift is freely available and that God is not waiting for them to be good before accepting them.
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