I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but that seems too easy. How can that be how it works?
What is grace? Grace is God’s undeserved love.
There are two main reasons people say that grace is too easy. One says in despair, “I know what I’ve done and there’s no way God can just forgive me.” The other says in pride, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch. I work hard for everything I have.”
These statements are really two sides of the same coin, both leading us to say, “Grace is too easy. You must have to do something to be right with God.” In fact, our sinful nature leads us to believe that we can and must do something in order to earn forgiveness.
Recognize who you are
We need to see ourselves for who we really are compared to God. God is perfect. He is holy and he demands the same. There are no degrees of holiness. Either you are or you aren’t.
When Moses wanted to see God’s face, God told him, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Why? Because sinful man cannot stand in the presence of the holy God. God is not impressed when we try to appease him with our efforts. He demands perfection; our efforts aren’t up to that standard.
Imagine trying to swim across a ripple-free pond without disturbing the water. That would be perfection! But no matter how hard you try, you still will make ripples. Even the best Olympic divers make ripples when they enter the water. Even the best of us still sin daily. Working hard does not cut it. Forgiveness and salvation need to be free gifts from God.
But that doesn’t mean there is anything easy about grace, not for God anyway.
Realize what God has done
Adam and Eve broke God’s heart when they sinned, yet God promised to send a Savior. God shaped all of history so that two thousand years ago he himself would enter this world clothed in the skin of a baby. Jesus grew up and lived perfectly because we needed his perfect life. There was nothing easy about it. Jesus mourned, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together . . . and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37). It wasn’t only his heart that was torn, but a few days later, also his back, his brow, his hands, and his feet, as he hung on the cross to pay for every one of their imperfections, and ours too.
Now God looks at us and sees Jesus’ perfection. We do not deserve it, but he gives it to us anyway. That is grace. God does not love you because you are perfect. Instead, you are perfect in his eyes because he loves you. That is grace.
Some will object, saying, “Doesn’t that give people the right to do whatever they want to do?” The answer is yes. So, what do you want to do for the One who gave his life for you? What would you do if someone saved you from a burning building or from drowning? The last thing you would do is say “I didn’t need your help,” and go back to the fire or into the water. No, there is only one thing to do. Thank the One who saved you.
Have a question, ask it here!
Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 10
Issue: November 2021
- Q&A: Why is Pontius Pilate immortalized in our creeds?
- Q&A: How does remembering my baptism help with the guilt I carry?
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?