“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.” —John Newton. What a simple reminder in our complex day to day. Walt reminds us how great our Savior really is.
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.
Imagine a very bad day. Your aging father fell again and in driving over to assist your mom in caring for dad you are now late for your daughter’s recital. You are rushing too fast and in the rear-view mirror are the flashing lights telling you that 54 in a 40 zone is not going to slide by. You are guilty, and you know it. As you emotionally tell the police officer why you were breaking the law something very amazing happens. The officer has already written the ticket out, but he tells you he will pay the fine and take care of everything with the court so no points will even show up on your driving record. Then, he says “Follow me!” and turns on his lights and escorts you directly to the recital. What a kind gift.
That is the gospel in a nutshell.
God through Jesus paid the guilty debt that we rightfully owed. Mercy is us not receiving the punishment we should experience. But, God goes beyond mercy to show us grace – receiving a good gift we could never earn.
- Remember, each and every one of us is a “great sinner” (Romans 3:23) earning a serious punishment of death (Romans 6:23). Any sin where we miss the mark of God’s standard of holy perfection is great. Not all the consequences of various sins are to be measured as having the same negative impact on others. My coveting heart can seemingly not harm anyone else, but it separates me from God and if not dealt with will separate me from others.
- Because of this we all were: an enemy of God (James 4:4); dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1); – remember that at that time we were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:12-13).
- But, in Christ we are now: called children of God (1 John 3:1); are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, (Ephesians 2:19); no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since we are his child, God has made us also an heir (Galatians 4:7).
As we grow in Christ may we also grow in our hatred of sin, ours first and foremost. May we also grow in our delight of our great Savior Jesus.