For by grace are you saved through faith… Ephesians 2:8
Behold, I stand at your door and knock. If any man…. Revelation 3:20
As many as received Him…. John 1:12
The country singer had a number at the top of the charts. She was the guest that morning on a talk show that entertained millions of people across America. Because she was outspoken in her Christian faith, she talked about the Lord on the program. That’s when the host asked her to sing.
“Give us a little of Amazing Grace.”
She sweetly went into the first verse of the wonderful old John Newton song. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…” That’s when the host stopped her.
“That’s the problem I have with your religion,” he said. “I’m not a wretch.”
I’ve long since forgotten how she answered. But I know what the best answer is.
I didn’t say you were a wretch, I said I was. And I didn’t say I am now. I used to be.
Countless millions have come to Christ by faith in Jesus and then looked back at the life they were living before and thought to themselves, “Wow. I was a mess.” In the pigpen of life (remembering Luke 15’s story of the prodigal). Crazy (recalling the Gadarene demoniac of Mark 5. Undone (referencing the woman caught in adultery in John 8).
I was a wretch.
Take the fellow we call the Gadarene demoniac. Possessed by a spirit of uncleanness, the man was crying and abusing himself day and night. Even when they chained him to keep him from hurting himself, the demon gave him unnatural strength. He was a royal mess. And then Jesus came.
(Anyone recall the ancient song, “Then Jesus Came”? It fits here, and is so worth finding on YouTube.com and experiencing again.)
After the Lord Jesus made the man whole, we see him cleaned up, sitting before the Lord, quietly, listening, worshiping, and desiring with all his heart to follow Jesus.
That’s a picture of God’s grace. The fellow did not do one blessed thing to be changed, except this: He received it.
The Lord does it all; that’s grace.
You and I receive it. Not by works. Faith.
To those who insist that faith is not necessary because ‘that would be a work and Scripture says we are not saved by works,” I reply, “Go read your Bible and quit trying to discourage people from telling God’s truth.” Faith is not work. Faith is simply believing in Jesus and trusting Him to do what He wishes.
Here are the two sides of faith…
One: He gives grace. “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
We love Him because He first loved us. I John 4:19.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…. John 3:16.
Grace is what a loving God does, what He shows, what He gives. It’s who He is.
Two: We must receive His gift. He will not force His blessings on us.
Jesus said to Jerusalem, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37). As a result, “your house is left unto you desolate.” They would bear the results of their wrong choices.
“I stand at your door and knock,” said our Lord Jesus to the Laodicean church. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” (Revelation 3:20). He brings the blessings of Heaven to us, right up to the front door. How good is that! But…
He will not force them on us.
We get to decide.
We have to decide.
That’s the other side of grace.
Jesus said to one fellow, “Do you want to be made whole?” (John 5:6) He will not force Heaven’s blessings on anyone.
If anyone goes to hell, it will be by his or her own doing.
God was willing to do ten thousand good things for them, for now and for eternity. The single thing He would not do is force Himself on them.
What have you decided? Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Choose life, friend.