I grew up in the Bible Belt, the nickname for the deep south given because of the church’s influence and the high number of Christians. Most of us born in the south back in the olden days, the nineteen hundreds, grew up in church. People were identified by what church they went to, “They go to the big Baptist church downtown,” etc. I didn’t know too many people that weren’t identified with some sort of church. Now, I have been involved with the Methodist church, the Baptist church, the Presbyterian church, and several non-denominational churches over the years. One thing I’ve noticed about the different denominations – they aren’t so different when it comes down to what we believe. We all believe we are Saved by Grace. What does that mean?
“Saved by grace” means that we are saved from eternal punishment for our sins because of God’s love for us and not because of anything we do to earn it. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves us because He loves us, the end. We don’t have to earn God’s love, it is a free gift. That’s called grace. We don’t deserve it, but He gives it anyway. We can have faith in His grace and not have to depend on our good works. Good thing, huh? We’d all be in trouble if that weren’t the case.
This is an important concept to understand because there are many people who feel they should DO certain things, boxes they should check off, actions that are required of them before they can be ‘saved.’ That is not what the Bible teaches. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 2:8-9, “You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.” (CEV)
So, does this mean that we can accept Christ as our Savior and keep on sinning? What if we become a Christian and then keep on acting the same as we did before? Didn’t we already learn that we become new creatures when we accept Jesus? Well, to me this is where grace comes in. Yes, when we accept Christ we are saved. Period. But it is my personal belief that it is at that point that we start becoming new creatures because the Holy Spirit comes to live and work inside us. The more we know about God and His love for us, the more we desire to live in such a way that we bring glory and honor to Him. Is it an overnight change? Sometimes. Sometimes it takes a while. It can be a gradual thing for some of us. The more we invest ourselves in knowing Christ, the more like Him we become. From the time we accept Christ, we are saved and we begin to grow more and more like Christ. In John 3, we read that Jesus said we must be born again. I think He understands that just like babies, we need time to grow, develop, mature. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit working in us to bring about the new creation. That’s what sets Christians apart. We believe that we are saved not because of what we do, but because of what God does. That’s called Grace. Isn’t it amazing?
To learn more, read:
- Romans 3, 6, 8, and 15
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- 2 Timothy 2
“But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have LIFE in His Name.” John 20:31