In Scripture alone we know we are saved by grace alone.
I probably speak for most people when I say two intolerable states of mind in our world is ungratefulness and entitlement. To be ungrateful is to deny the giver the proper gratitude for gifts given. To be entitled is to believe you deserve those gifts. It is truly soul-draining to have to live among ungratefulness and entitlement.
Ephesians 2 points us to the cure for ungratefulness and entitlement for the Christian. In this section of Paul’s letter, he clearly spells out the foundation of our life in Jesus Christ. Jesus clarifies the truth about who we are as God’s people. You see, our lives do not belong to us. Every one of us have been saved by Jesus, but the battle we wage in the Christian life is not forgetting where we came from. If we have all been saved by Jesus from sin and death, we know that we have an eternal home with Him. But that eternal life does not first begin when we die. Eternal life has already begun. And if it has already begun, then how and why do we live?
Scripture teaches us very clearly that God is holy. It teaches us that we are a fallen people. It teaches us that this fallenness separates us from God. And if we take this truth seriously, we begin the attempt to find out how to repair the division caused by our sin. But Scripture also teaches us that there is nothing we can do to repair the rift between us and God. As it is, we need a miracle. We need something other than we can give. We need grace.
Grace is defined as the “unmerited favor of God”. Where do we find such a thing as grace? Contrary to our plans and schemes, we cannot purchase it, nor can we earn it. It is a gift. If it were an answer to the question “What can I do to be saved?” the short answer would be “Nothing in your own strength and power, but only the grace of God can save you.”
Jesus is the embodiment of the grace of God. He takes on our sin and death and defeats both definitively. He then extends this victory over sin and death to his people. Grasping the grace of God in Jesus Christ is professing that all our strivings to be made right before God are ineffective. No good work, regardless of how great it is, can save you. Instead, it is only the grace of God in Jesus Christ that saves.
When we forget the grace of God in Jesus Christ, we live ungrateful lives ignoring the giver of the precious gift of salvation. We see our blessings as the result of our own efforts. We then do not worship with gratitude. We might even slip into the realm of believing we are deserving of the good gifts of God. Because we have done this or that, then somehow God owes us for our good work. Yet again, this is another affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
May we live with gratitude to God by understanding that while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us. May we life knowing that our good deeds are not work deserving of eternal compensation. Instead, may we see the life changing truth of Ephesians 2: it is by grace that we are saved, so that we may walk in the good deeds God has already done. This makes the content of our lives a source of glory and joy to God alone. Amen.