The Gospel is such "good news" because it declares that all that was necessary for sinners like us to be forgiven of our sins and to be justified before God has been accomplished by Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect, sinless life we could never live. He died as our substitute, He received our condemnation, He drank the cup of God's wrath against our sins. He then was raised from the dead for our justification, and ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father as the only mediator between God and Man. Christ declared that all that was needed to reconcile God's sinful people back to good standing with God was accomplished when He uttered the words, "It is finished," on the cross.
God's Word then proclaims that, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) Salvation is all of grace. Yes, we must believe the good news, but even faith is a "gift of God", so that we may not boast that we did what was necessary to receive the blessings of God's grace. Yet, how often do we struggle with believing the Gospel? That our salvation really is "not by works" we have done or must do?
Let's meditate on what "not a result of works" really means for us.
- Our salvation is not at all based on whether or not we have been a good person for it is not by works.
- Our salvation does not depend upon whether or not we have been baptized or confirmed for it is not a result of works, ours or our parents.
- Our salvation does not depend upon whether or not we have been tithing faithfully to the church, for it is not by works.
- Our salvation does not depend upon how many of the ten commandments we have been able to keep, for it is not by works.
- We will not be welcomed into heaven on the basis of whether or not our good deeds outnumber our sins, for salvation is not by works.
- Making sure we attend Mass or weekly church services will not ensure that God will accept us into His kingdom. Our salvation is not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- Whether or not our children end up following the Lord in faith will not determine our standing with God, for salvation is not by works.
- Our salvation does not depend upon whether or not we have been faithfully having our quiet times each day, or spending enough time in prayer, or whether or not we feel close to God. Our salvation is not of anything we have done.
Now, I know, there are qualifications that may need to be made. Thankfully the Apostle Paul has explained pretty much all of those in Romans, as well as his other New Testament letters. I just wanted to focus on, and relish in, the reality of the good news that our salvation is not dependent upon us, not in the least. It is all of Christ. A newish hymn written by Eric Schumacher and David Ward called, "Not in Me" provides us with some beautifully poetic, and wonderfully truthful lyrics to help us to meditate on this Gospel reality. I have printed them below, but you can find it here.
No list of sins I have not done,No list of virtues I pursue,No list of those I am not like,Can earn myself a place with You.O God! Be merciful to me -I am a sinner through and through!My only hope of righteousnessIs not in me, but only You.No humble dress, no fervent prayer,No lifted hands, no tearful song,No recitation of the truthCan justify a single wrong.My righteousness is Jesus' life,My debt was paid by Jesus' death,My weary load was born by HimAnd he alone can give me rest.No separation from the world,No work I do, no gift I give,Can cleanse my conscience, cleanse my hands;I cannot cause my soul to live.But Jesus died, and rose again -The power of death is overthrown!My God is merciful to meAnd merciful in Christ alone.
By Eric Schumacher & David L. Ward
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