17th February 2013

No Fear

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 (NIV)

“God is so high you can’t get over Him; So wide you can’t get around Him;
So low you can’t get under Him.”
Do you remember this traditional Gospel song? Little children enjoy singing along because they can act out the words. They sing “So high”, and stretch their hands above their heads; “So wide”, and they spread their arms wide; “So low”, as they crouch down. It’s a cute song, fun to sing, and it can teach children an important truth about the being of God.

But, as we get older, how many of us really believe that message? A few years ago, Emerging Trends—a publication of the Princeton Religion Research Center—reported that 56 per cent of Americans, “with most describing themselves as Christians, say that when they think about their death, they worry ‘a great deal’ or ‘somewhat’ that they will ‘not be forgiven by God.’” The report goes on to say, “Such findings raise the question of whether Christians in the U.S. have an understanding of the Christian meaning of ‘grace’ and suggest the need for more effective biblical teaching in Christian churches in this country.”

Why is it that we human beings, even Christians, seem to find the idea of simple grace so impossible to believe? The touchstone of the Protestant Reformation was the biblical teaching that salvation—complete forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God—comes solely and only by God’s grace. Yet the prevailing view among Christians today seems to be that salvation depends on what we have done or not done. It’s as though a divine scale weighs all our good deeds on one side and all our bad deeds on the other side and our salvation will be determined by which side is heavier. No wonder we are afraid! Will we find, at that moment of judgment, that our sins have piled up “so high” that even the Father can’t see over them, “so wide” that Jesus blood can’t cover them, and we have sunk “so low” that the Holy Spirit couldn’t reach us?

The truth is, we don’t have to worry about whether God will forgive us; he already has. We are judged righteous only because Jesus died for us and rose again. It doesn’t depend on the quality of our obedience. It doesn’t even depend on the quality of our faith. It is Jesus’ faith that matters. All we have to do is trust him and accept his good gift. Jesus said: “All whom the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:37-40 TNIV) That is God’s will for you. You don’t have to fear or worry. You can accept the gift of God.

Grace, by definition, is undeserved, unearned. It’s God’s free gift of love. It’s given to every person who will accept it. We need to think of God in a fresh way, the way the Bible actually presents him. God is our Redeemer, not our condemner. He is our Saviour, not our destroyer. He is our Friend, not our enemy. God is on our side. That’s the message of the Bible. It’s the message of God’s grace. The Judge has already done everything that needs to be done to make our salvation secure.

Holy Father, because of your love and grace and mercy, help us to accept that we are pardoned through the blood of Jesus. We wouldn’t have offered salvation this way, because we are not full of love, or gracious or merciful. Help us to be more like you, Father, and less like ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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