In a culture where the modern American teenage Christian believes that he or she has to somehow earn God’s favor in order to live the Christian life, there is something wrong with the way we’ve been teaching grace. Moralistic therapeutic deism is term that identifies people as believing that they must earn God’s love in order to be saved.
Yet the Bible says that we are saved by grace trough faith, not by works lest anyone boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). I would say that this does indeed mean what it says, “that faith is not a work of man, but of God.”
If this is true as it is, then faith is a gift of God for those elected by God’s grace. Yet those who teach free will over God’s Sovereignty tend to disagree with Catholics and other organized religious parts of the church on that we are not saved by works. Yet, they speak out of two sides of their mouths while contesting that faith is a work of man and that man somehow produces his salvation by signing some card, praying some prayer, or being dunked under some river. While confessing repentance, expressing your faith, and choosing to be baptized are important in showing evidence of and expressing your gratitude to Jesus for your salvation, none of these things produce salvation itself.
So what produces salvation? The Cross of Jesus Christ. Those who are saved are drawn to Christ as a bride from the father (John 6:44). They express these things out of love for Jesus because they have faith in His sacrifice and know that what He did was enough to save them from the eternal and severe consequences of their sins (Galatians 2:20). The know that what He did for them was planned, foreknown, called, and predestined before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6).
Praying a prayer or making a commitment to Jesus does not make you a Christian. Christ dying on the Cross for your sins makes you a Christian. What about man’s responsibility? Man is responsible in history, God is Sovereign over history. Some will hide their lives in themselves and embrace their sin to their own destruction to God’s universal glory and some will hide their lives in Christ and embrace Christ’s righteousness over their sin to their own salvation to God’s universal glory. But ultimately, God foreknows and initiates the marriage proposal.
So Christian, you have been saved by an act of God. He loves you and draws you nearer day by day. You do not have to do ANYTHING to earn that kind of unconditional love. Rest, relax, embrace that kind of grace and love! Your Father has called and predestined your name before you were even born! Your cleaning yourself up to make God love you is wearing you out and useless in accomplishing the act of grace that HE already accomplished for you! Why? Because HE is the one who cleans you up from your sin! So please, don’t disgust Him. Just don’t! Fall more in love, let His grace penetrate your heart and let your heart cry “Abba! Father! Daddy!” “I love you!”
Let God’s grace transform your life. Let go of the useless and binding chains of motivating guilt, shame, pushing, self-performance that do not motivate the Christian life, but only motivate suicidal anti-Christian tendencies like religious rituals, name it and claim it rituals, repeated praying rituals, and other rituals that bring God no glory and only bind you in loveless Christianity.
Jeremiah the prophet said: “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13). And Ezekiel says: “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel 11:19).
But what about my sin and bondage? What about those sins that keep repeating themselves even after I have tried and tried to be a Christian? Stop giving up hope! Keep trying! Keeping asking Christ! Keep seeking Him, diving into His endlessly wonderful Word! Keep walking the walk of faith! Don’t give up! Christ’s walk is a step by step function. He will deliver you, He won’t let you go, just don’t let go of His hand! There are many trials and sufferings that produce endurance more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7). So don’t let go of His hand!
Understand, Christian, that in Christ you have received grace upon grace (John 1:16). This is not a work of your own, but of God and the greatest of His miracles!