The grace that saves them is the free undeserved goodness and favour of God; and he saves them, not but through faith in Christ Jesus, by means of which they come to partake of the great blessings of the gospel; and both that faith and that salvation on which it has so great an influence are the gift of God. - Matthew Henry Commentary
Have you ever had that moment when something you have heard/read over and over finally makes sense? I mean, the reality of it just hits you square in the face and you are left stunned, wondering why it has never sunk in before.
I blog about a lot of things...but, if you read anything I write, I am sure you have noticed that I tend to talk about God, Jesus, The Gospel, and grace...a lot. One thing I have never shared, is why. When you are consumed with something, it tends to be a part of every thing you say and do.
Let me share "my story" with you.
Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us 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. (ESV)
I spent the better part of my life trying to be "good enough" for God. Even though I was saved as a young girl, I still thought I bore the responsibility of making sure I kept my salvation safe by being good and doing my best never to sin. Religious legalism at its finest.
This poor young girl (me) felt the heaviness of sin...it was a weight too great to bear. So every time I felt like I had sinned...I would ask Jesus to come back into my heart. I figured if I was sinning, I must not have really been a Christian.
Guilt, shame, and fear is what drove me in my "relationship" with God. I needed to please Him and earn His favor by - going to church (as often as I could), memorizing scripture, abstaining from all the sinful shenanigans all my other friends were engaging in. This mentality led me down a path to self-righteousness and, ultimately, a life apart from God and His mercy, grace and redemption.
Feeling like a constant failure, it became easier to believe in God and just not think about having a relationship with Him. I loved Him. That never changed. I just...was tired.
I stopped reading His Word, going to church was no longer important (until we had Lil' Man, then guilt drove me to making sure he had a church to go to...but that would only be when it was convenient. Which, was not often.), and my lifestyle reeked of worldly things. Even though I thought I had made things "easier" on myself with my new version of being a Christian...I still could not get rid of that fear and guilt. It was always silently gnawing at me.
A few years ago I felt God drawing me near. A real relationship with Him is what I so desperately wanted. But there was that struggle...my mind was still wanting me to think that me being a good moral person who loves God = a happy fulfilled Christian. I was slipping back to a place where I had already been.
This is where I am thankful for a God that cares for me, despite myself.
He listened to the prayers of my mom and dad, who saw a struggling daughter. He gave courage to them to not be afraid to prod me and challenge me in my belief in and walk with God.
He paved the way for my brother, who in his mission work overseas, was ministering to my heart during our many skype conversations.
He led my family to a church where The Gospel message is not only taught, but lived out. It was in Sunday School where the sweet beautiful message of God's great grace and mercy was exemplified through our Sunday School teachers. It all finally began to sink in. The children's director invited us to have Miss Priss dedicated and in our pre-dedication class her words to us, the sweet words of The Gospel Message, resonated so soundly. We are so thankful to be a part of this wonderful group of believers and love that they are our church family.
Since, discovering the true meaning of Ephesians 2:8-9, my life has changed. I know that I am undeserved of salvation. I no longer seek to earn it. It is a gift of grace, through Jesus Christ.
I wake up every day knowing I am a sinner. I know I am flawed. I know that every.single.day I need to die to my sins and cling to Jesus. I can't live a sin free life, day, moment on my own. It is in Jesus, through Jesus, and because of Jesus that I am made new. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17
Letting go of religion and clinging to Jesus has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Reading God's Word, memorizing Scripture, going to church...all the things I would do before to please God, I do now because I love God and desire to know Him more. I know that doing these things do not guarantee my salvation, but they do, rather, sustain me. Reading my Bible isn't a chore to cross off my to-do list, praying isn't something I do when I happen to remember while in the shower or driving down the road. It is a time I have come to covet and enjoy.
The last couple of years have been the best years of my life. God is doing awesome things in and through me. My marriage and my family are alive and thriving because of Him. To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:27)
As my Sunday School teacher would say...It's all about the simple Gospel Message.