Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
If ever there was a Christian who did a lot of great works and fulfilled many mighty tasks for God, it was the Apostle Paul. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, he spent the rest of his life sharing the Gospel, planting new churches, and writing inspirational letters which have largely shaped our faith for over 1900 years. He was an exceptional servant of Christ and an amazing church leader, the likes of which we shall probably never see or experience again. If Heaven was only granted to us through what we do, then Paul could stand at the very beginning of the line of billions of people waiting to get in.
And yet, even with all of the great and important things he fulfilled, Paul understood that his salvation did not depend upon what he did, but it absolutely hinged on everything that Jesus accomplished.
The gift of Heaven comes to us through Christ’s grace. We are saved because He allows us to be forgiven and restored to God. Without Christ, we would end up being eternally separated from God; with Christ, we are uniquely given the promised opportunity of entering God’s everlasting and loving presence. Salvation is not awarded to us because of who we are or what we have done; salvation is given to us because of who Christ is and what He has fulfilled. His crucifixion has given us forgiveness; His painful death has granted us everlasting life.
Today, we should all feel blessed to be Christians and cheerfully share that blessing with others – our families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues – for in the end, isn’t this the gift that everyone is looking for at the end of their lives?
Questions for personal reflection
What do the words ‘salvation’ and ‘grace’ mean to me? How have I experienced them in my life?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of grace and the opportunity of salvation. Remind us each day that these promised gifts are real blessings in our lives. Give us the courage to share these blessings with our loved ones and others. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Today’s image is one of his latest Pentecost drawings. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Pentecost.