This is for the long time believer who may have lost sight of God’s grace, for the new believer beginning to experience God’s grace, and for the unbeliever who hasn’t heard about the concept of grace yet.
Paul Tripp says, “If you prayed every moment of your life, you could not pray enough prayers to earn acceptance with God. If you gave every penny of every dollar that you ever earned in every job you ever had, you could not give enough to deserve acceptance with God. If you spoke every word with the purest conscientious motivations, you would never be able to speak your way into reconciliation with God.”
For some this statement may be terrifying, to others a burden lifted off of their shoulders. I’m writing this post to joyfully share that the only way we can gain God’s acceptance is through Christ’s righteousness.
In August, at the start of my Junior year, I had an internal crisis. I was listening to a sermon by David Nassar one evening and I left questioning my faith. Was I even a believer? Have I been trying to earn God’s favor my entire life? Is my life a lie? (A question I never thought I would ask myself in a serious manner). The answer to these questions would be discovered slowly, but surely, over the semester.
The Nassar’s sermon can be summed up in one statement: The only thing worse than not being where you’re supposed to be, is not knowing that you aren’t where you’re supposed to be.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Nassar says that he believes the church is full of people like this. People who believe that they are doing the right things, earning God’s favor, love, and salvation. They go to church often, they went to youth camp growing up, go on missions, and give when there is an offering. What’s wrong with this? As Christians aren’t we supposed to being serving, giving, and growing in Christ? Yes! What makes the difference is our motive behind these actions. Nassar compared this concept to when he attempted to attend an event in Greenville, Nc but ended up in Greenville, SC. At face value they are the same, but when examined, polar opposites.
He goes on to say that these people believe that the Christian life is about change. While instead it is about exchange. What does this mean? Change is behavior modification. It’s doing what God deems and good and avoiding what is bad. Exchange is dying to your old self and being made completely new in Christ. Change is going from bad to good. Exchange is going from death to life.
This wasn’t part of the sermon that rocked me though. It was when he asked: “What is Christianity to you?”. My immediate answer is the gospel. God sent His son down who died for all of our sins and in three days rose again, therefore redeeming all those who believe in Him. Which is true. Despite knowing and believing this truth, I felt like I had spent so much of my Christian walk consumed with earning God’s favor through works alone.
At some point in my Christian walk, I had unknowingly allowed myself to fall into the idea that I constantly needed to earn favor with God. If I missed a devotional time, God loved me less. If I fell into lust, God loved me less. If I gave food to the poor, God loved me more. Life became less about living freely in God’s grace and more about living as a slave to earning my salvation. From the words of JD Greer, in his book Gospel, came this freeing statement: There’s nothing you can do to make God love you any less, and there’s nothing you can to make God love you any more. Not going to lie, when I first heard this, it upset me. What did he mean that I couldn’t make God love me more? Have I been doing all these good things for nothing? However, I learned that this was the beauty of God’s love for us. He loves us an unfathomable amount (enough to send His son to die for us) and there is nothing we can do to take that away.
The worth of salvation became increasingly more real to me this semester as I dove into God’s grace. The only reason salvation has so much worth is because it is about a work that you and I could not do on our own!! We cheapen the cross when we attempt to work our way to salvation. The beauty of the Gospel is that Christ died for us while we were sinners. While we were sinners. If this doesn’t give hope to those trapped in a works based relationship with God, I don’t know what will. Because He died for us in this way, we are free to come to Him as we are—no clean-up necessary. Come with all your brokenness, sin, and hurt. God knows you, loves you, and desires to lavish His mercy upon you. In our repentance, God is glorified.
If you feel like it’s always been about doing, and doing, and doing. Rest in the realization that it’s about being. It’s about putting your faith in a God who has FULLY paid for our sins through His son’s death on a cross. This is your reminder to live freely in the grace that God has lavished upon His children. In the wise words of Paul Tripp: “As the children of grace, we obey as a service of worship, not in a desperate attempt to do what is impossible—independently earn God’s favor.”