The free gift of salvation
We are saved and brought into relationship with God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, without nothing added to it of our own good works.
But doesn’t God command and require works of our obedience to God in order to be accepted by him?
Yes, he does, but none of us do it. We would have to obey God’s law which simply teaches to love God our creator and our neighbor, perfectly.
Can anyone keep God’s law so perfectly? Can anyone love God and others so perfectly?
No man or woman has ever kept God’s holy law and loved so perfectly. Except one, the Man Christ Jesus, when he who was God’s eternal Son humbled himself and came into the world to redeem us from our sin and our rebellion against God.
How does Jesus save us from our sins and reconcile us back to God?
By God’s one and only Son becoming a man without losing his divinity, but not using his divinity to his own advantage, he became our representative before God. As the first man Adam represented all of humanity and sinned and died and brought us all into sin and under God’s wrath; so the second man, the Man Christ Jesus has come to represent us before God by doing the work the Father gave him to do, that is, by obeying God’s holy law in our place, the law which we have broken.
What about Jesus’ death?
Jesus’ death for us sinners is central. Jesus’ perfectly obedient life as a man qualified him not only to become the perfect sacrifice - the spotless and innocent Lamb of God who took the sin of the world on himself instead of us. But Jesus has also been perfected to become our High Priest who offered himself as a sacrifice to God in our place. We deserve to die. Jesus died as a substitute for us.
What about Jesus’ resurrection?
God the Father raised Jesus to live forever and never die again because the Father has accepted Jesus’ perfect once for all sacrifice of himself for us. Jesus has ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God reigning in glory and honor exercising his power and authority to bring salvation to us.
How does Jesus bring salvation to us?
The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the trinity and by him, he applies the perfectly obedient life and death of Jesus as our substitute to us, and in that way justifies us - declares us perfectly righteous and forgiven of all our sins.
And who are those to whom the Holy Spirit brings such a great redemption of so freely?
They’re those the Father gave to his Son Jesus to redeem, as the Gospel of John 17:1-2 says, “...Jesus...lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
Do these words from the gospel of John apply only to the twelve disciples?
Let’s look at the context of Jesus’ prayer to his Father just before his death on the cross.
“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” (John 17:9)
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
And since our salvation is so free without any of our works added to it, is there any value for us to do good works?
Yes, there's great value in them but not in order to be saved by them or boast about our good works. But as a response to this great and free gift of salvation we have received by faith, we thank God by offering ourselves to him that he may work into us the love of God, to love God and others as Jesus loved us. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)
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