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Aug 27

Monday Cry Out – Making the Grade

I had a friend in college that received an assignment from one of their major course classes and was completely freaking out over it. They called me up to ask for some assistance on the matter, to which I readily agreed to help. Once my friend arrived to my dorm, I spent the next hour discussing the grant proposal project they had been given by their professor, which was promised to be a very daunting task. After this “briefing” I began to ask some very pointed questions on the topic: how long did they have to complete the assignment, what materials and resources were allowed, and most importantly, what were they going to be graded on. Not suprisingly the semester long project was to have well-documented facts supporting the backbone of the reason for their grant proposal, but what was surprising was the final grade score. Almost all of the grade was to be scored solely on….

Participation.

Yes! I know! Just doing the project would get you a decent passing grade! Almost unheard of in college courses. Baffled at what I just heard and now feeling a little silly at spending nearly two hours of my life worrying with my friend over a project she merely had to participate in, I asked her why the professor taught his course this way. Poor attendance was the deciding factor for the professor to make one near impossible task for the entire semester grade. Surprisingly, attendance in class or turning in work increased as students gladly took part in the “grace” that had been extended to them. Sadly however some students would still fail the course, and others wouldn’t even attempt it, either because of false information or because it just sounded too good to be true.

We have also been given a daunting task. We are to live perfect lives in order to attain eternal life. It’s daunting because it’s impossible. Not a single one of us are able to do that. If you’re like me, you’ve broken that within five minutes of waking up every morning. Romans 3:23 states “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We simply cannot be perfect.

But this is where the good news, or the gospel, comes into play. God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we get to “participate” to earn the grade. We get to believe. That’s all we have to do! Believe that we are sinners and Christ died for us, his blood covering all our sins so that at judgment God does not see our sins, but he sees the blood that Christ shed on our behalf.

Participate by believing.

However, there are some Christians, perhaps many, that were once taught and believed that, but now believe something else. For whatever reason they have turned from the gospel of grace to the gospel of works, and this is saddening. Paul said it best in his letter to the Galatians saying “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all.” (Galatians 1:6-7a) It is astonishing that many Christians have deserted the gospel of grace for something else, something perverted, something that holds no good news at all. And this is so easy to fall into. Our flesh simply finds it hard to believe that we simply can’t be saved by grace alone, there has to be a catch somewhere. So we decide to take on responsibilities at church, or we decide to do something else in our jobs. We try to add to the gospel.

And this way of life is tiring. It is almost like returning to our lives prior to salvation in Christ. We worked and strived to continue to do better, but the efforts were futile. There was no possible way to buy our way through works to salvation. I’ve personally seen people continue to work and work and work and work to try to earn the favor of God every day, and the one thing these people have in common is being tired and worn out. They lack the joy that comes from freedom through grace. They also lack the grace for others that God gave to them, because they themselves have not fully accepted it. They are still trying to earn it.

There are myriad reasons for people to try to earn salvation through works whether it’s because they’ve bought a lie the world or their flesh has told them, or they have been misled by supposed leaders of the Christian faith. Whatever the reason, Paul said to the Galatians that “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:7b-8)

Ouch. Paul didn’t beat around the bush there. And why shouldn’t he? It’s a very serious issue, in fact, it’s the very issue that we as Christians are able to stand firmly on and claim to be saved by grace and reconciled to God. Anything other than that is a perversion.

If you are a Christian, but you still find that you feel you have to work to find favor with God or that if you don’t do so many things a day for God that you’ll lose your salvation I urge you to STOP THAT WAY OF THINKING NOW. That is not what the gospel is about. It’s about us not being able to cut it and for God having mercy on us and saving us by grace through the blood of his son Jesus. Anything less or more than that is wrong. Believe me, good works will come naturally from a person who has been saved by grace and has the Spirit working in them daily, changing them to be more like Christ. You don’t have to worry about that. God’s taken care of that, too. But that’s a different devotional topic.

For now, though, let’s worry about accepting the gift that was given us in the form of Jesus Christ. My prayer for everyone that struggles with this issue is for God to open their eyes and help them see and understand what accepting his grace is. Accepting God’s grace is all that he asks in order for us to make the grade. So let’s all go out and be… straight “A” students.

Father, thank you for this day and Lord, thank you for your mercy and grace. Help us to realize each day that we can’t do more or work harder to make our way to heaven. We can’t do enough. We can’t do better. Because we’ve already failed. We can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. Father, thank you so much for sending him to suffer and die on the cross for our sins, our perfect sacrifice. I pray that we do not pervert the gospel by trying to add to it, but rather we go out and live it to the fullest each and every day of our lives, showing a world what it’s like to live a life of grace. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.