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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
Rev. Kent Compton
Special to The Guardian
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:8-10)
If you were to ask most people in the western world how one enters the kingdom of heaven, they would respond nine times out of 10, “By being a good person.” This response arises out of a superficial understanding of goodness and righteousness.
It is reinforced when we compare ourselves to one another. The Bible says this is not wise (2 Cor 10:12), because the ultimate standard is not other people but God himself. (1 Peter 1:15) When we pronounce ourselves good and therefore worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven, we fail to consider that God holds us to account, not only for our actions but our thoughts and feelings. (Matt 5:27-28) God says we have “all sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and that there is “none righteous, no, not one”. (Rom 3:10) So, what are our options?
Our text says that salvation is very much still a possibility by the grace of God.
“By grace you have been saved...” This means firstly, an acknowledgement that we are lost beyond the point of saving ourselves. Secondly, we recognize that God has done though the death of Jesus what we could not do for ourselves and that is pay the penalty for our sin. We accept his gift of grace which is his favour shown to us without any merit or worthiness in ourselves. This Paul describes as, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...” (Rom 3:24)
The instrument through which we receive this grace is faith. Simply put, we look away from ourselves and rest in the works and merit of Christ on our behalf. Could we ask for more? Jesus plainly says, “He that believes on him is not condemned...” (Joh 3:18)
Consequently, Paul states, it is, “not of works, lest anyone should boast”. This is repeated through the Bible. In Titus 3, Paul says, it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us...” And again, “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Rom 3:28)
But this begs then the question, “Where do my good works come in?” Paul says that good works, rather than being the ground of our salvation, is the response to being saved, the fruit and not the root of salvation. Notice, Paul says that we are saved “unto” but not “by” good works. These works become the joyous response to God, who freely gave his own Son. So, when we are saved, we are to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God...” (Col 1:10)
How ought these verses impact us? They ought to make us immediately forsake do-it- yourself salvation and drive us to Christ who gives freely and fully of his salvation to lost sinners like us. It ought to fill us with gratitude to God for the great love shown to us in Christ. It ought to give us eternal peace to know that God will not require of us to be saved anymore that what Jesus has already done.
Rev. Kent Compton is with the Free Church of Scotland (Desable and Cape Traverse). A guest sermon runs regularly in Saturday’s Guardian and is provided through Christian Communications.