The essence of Christianity is not human effort. Instead, it is God’s grace. The concept of grace is unique to Christianity. It is not found in any other religious belief system. The doctrine of grace not only teaches that we don’t need to earn our way to heaven: it teaches that it is impossible to earn our way to heaven.
The Apostle Paul put it this way: “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” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So, it is a tragic and fatal error to believe, I have lived a good life. I don’t need to be saved. Are you trying to earn your way to heaven? The truth is that no one can ever earn his or her way to heaven. We are all under the curse of Adams’s sin, and we are all under the curse of Adam’s sin, and we are all unworthy of salvation.
There are two types of grace described in the Bible. Theologians refer to the first form as “common grace.” Common Grace is the undeserved goodness that God freely gives to all human beings.
Jesus spoke of this kind of grace when He said that “your Father in heaven…causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Everyone is permitted to enjoy the kind of easy-going tolerance, saying, “Oh well, they sinned again, but it’s not really such a bad sin. I’ll just look the other way and pretend not to notice.”
But this not how His grace works, God does not wink at sin. If you think He simply lets our sins slide unnoticed, you are making the same mistake Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden and the same mistake Cain made when he killed his brother in the field. Each of them thought they could sin and God wouldn’t notice. They were wrong.
Nothing escapes God’s sight. When we fall short of His glory, there is a price to pay. Grace is neither lenient nor permissive. Grace is not free, nor is it cheap. Grace is the costliest, most precious commodity in the universe. It cost God the infinitely precious lifeblood of His only Son.
As fallen humans, we certainly do not deserve His mercy, yet God opens the windows of heaven and pours His grace on us. Christ did not die on the cross so that we can take sin lightly and flaunt our freedoms without consequence. He also did not die in order to give us a constricting and rigid life. Either extreme is a limited version of the Christian faith.
When we fully understand the cost of our sin, we choose not to take God’s grace for granted. When we fully understand Jesus’ sacrifice and love, we begin to cherish our relationship with Him above all else. When we love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, we will hate sin and crave a closer relationship with Him.
As we grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, we begin to understand that He truly cares about our lives. We learn that He wants to build intimate relationships with us. Instead of living in terror of Him, we are given an opportunity to be children of the Kings of kings. Suddenly, we begin to understand he wants us in His throne room, where grace showers all who enter in His presence.
Today, thank God for His grace and mercy and walk in the knowledge that you are precious beyond measure to Him.