God’s Grace 2015-91
So, what is God’s Grace? Is it something we can get or is it something else? According to my favorite source, Wikipedia, it is something we get for free, from God. It is tied in with the word faith, but let me get into that later. I think, but am not sure, that this might be a Lutheran thing, based on Martin Luther’s beliefs. I really do not want to get into a Luther versus Catholic belief thing, but may or may not have to do so.
Now, this can be hard to understand or it can be made easy. I think one way of solving this is to check out Scripture and see what it states.
The fundamental meaning in the New Testament and in subsequent theological usage is that contained in the Letter of Paul to Titus: “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people” (2:11), and in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.” The book of James has another spin off regarding deeds and faith, but I will leave that alone for now, also.
Luther had his thoughts of grace. It is by faith alone (sola fide) and by grace alone (sola gratia) that men are saved. Good works are something the believers should undertake out of gratitude towards their Savior; but they are not necessary for salvation and cannot earn anyone salvation; there is no room for the notion of “merit” in Luther’s doctrine of redemption.
I admit that other religions or denominations have other thoughts about this subject, but I am not going into the divisions of this subject. The concept of grace has been called “the watershed that divides Roman Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, and modern liberalism from conservatism. So there ARE different thoughts about how we get into Heaven or are saved. I guess I am expounding on one thought now, and will leave the others to people more capable to do so.
I was sent the following “joke” from my Pastor that may put this into perspective of how grace works, versus other actions by us.
How to Get Into Heaven per St. Peter
A man dies and meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. Peter says to the man, “Here’s how it works. You need to have one hundred points to get into heaven. You tell me about all the good things you’ve done. They are all worth a certain number of points. If your total is one hundred or more, you can come in.”
“Well,” says the man. “I was happily married to the same woman for 52 years. I never looked at another woman. I was attentive and loved her dearly.”
“That’s great,” says St. Peter. “That’ll be two points.”
“Hmmm,” says the man. “This is going to be harder than I thought. Well, I attended church regularly, volunteered my time and tithed faithfully.”
“Wonderful,” says St. Peter, “That’s worth another point.”
“One point!” says the man. “Okay, okay. I was involved with a prison ministry for twenty-five years. I went into the prison, at least monthly, and shared Jesus with them.”
“Wow!” says St. Peter. “That’s another two points!”
“Only two points!” says the man. “At this rate, it’ll be only by the grace of God that’ll I’ll ever get into this place.”
“Bingo!” says St. Peter. “That’s one hundred points! Come on in.
OK, maybe that is not the way exactly how it works, but it sounds sort of neat. Common Christian teaching is that grace is unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to humanity by sending his son to die on a cross, thus delivering eternal salvation. Do we have to have faith to get grace, or does it come from God automatically. In John 3:16 (KJV) says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That was stated so long ago and attributed to John, but does it continue like it was or does God have a different opinion now?
Many theological theories based on interpretation of Scripture are offered about this subject. I would like to think that it is up to God to decide on the fate of his children and that can be thought of in a convoluted way that man does or could not understand. There is no NEW tablet that anyone has hiked up a mountain to get where God has written his decrees on, so I don’t know, of course.
When I pray to God, I usually add in my prayers, “Thank you God for the opportunity to be with you for eternity because of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross. Let me carry His cross in acknowledgement of His act, so long ago.” I have stated before, I wear a cross daily, not for others to see, admire, or comment, but to remind ME of Jesus Christ and His resurrection and that I AM a disciple of Jesus Christ forever more.