I love this photo. If I had to use only one word to describe it, that word would be peace.
To me, it's the perfect depiction of peace, rest, and total awe at God's creation. The boats are docked for the night, the sun is gently setting, and a storybook pink glow is spreading across the water.
This picture of peace is what I think of when I think about salvation. When I think about Jesus and calling Him the Lord and Savior of my life, I feel a deep sense of peace. I am assured of my salvation; I know where I’m going when this life ends.
I don’t have assurance because I did X amount of good deeds, read the Bible X minutes a day, or prayed X number of prayers. I don’t have assurance because I've been baptized, because I led X people to Christ, or because I write a blog about God.
Those things don’t save me.
Those are what the Bible refers to as “works,” and while they can help lead me closer to God and grow in my relationship with Him, they are not the reason I have an eternal hope.
Salvation is not something I earn. It’s something God freely gives to me through faith by His grace.
If you want to look at one text in the Bible to understand this better, look no further than the book of Romans. Over and over again, Paul writes to Rome that the righteousness He has comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Grab a pen and circle how many times in Romans that Paul says “faith” or “by faith.” Paul is sharing the Gospel—that means Good News—with the people of Rome, and he does not mince words. Paul is clear that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Think about it; even children lie and manipulate. We all sin, even when we don’t want to. Our sin nature is a direct result of the fall—that time Adam and Eve listened to Satan and ate from the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Sin is innately within us.
But wait before you click away, feeling defeated—the story doesn’t stop there.
Jesus is the One who is perfect, who has no sin within Him. He died the death that we deserve and rose again. He did this so that all might be reconciled to Him. The whole world! His message isn’t for the “good” people or those who seem holy. His message is for every single one of us.
Jesus came for me, while I was (and am) a sinner. While I was still dead in my trespasses, a slave to sin, He saved me.
Salvation comes from accepting Christ and repenting, a big word that simply means to turn away from. When I repented, I turned away from my sin. I acknowledged that I am a sinner, and I will continue to sin even when I don’t want to. To accept Him, I declared Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of my life. I invited Him in. I told Him my life is His.
And by doing that, God’s Word tells me that I am saved. Saved by grace through faith, and this is not of ourselves but it is God’s gift. Not from works so that no one may boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
When we accept Christ, we get to fully claim our new identity in Him. The Holy Spirit dwells within us. The old self is gone; the new self remains. Will we still struggle? Of course. Yet we’re no longer slaves to sin. We have a new identity as holy saints, as servants to the King.
Think about the person you love the most: your spouse, your child, your sister or brother, your best friend. Picture them, and now think of everything you would do for them. You want them to know and feel how deeply you love them. You’d do anything for them.
The way Jesus loves us is like that, except to a greater degree like we can’t even imagine. So when we put our life in His hands, when we’re “saved,” good works are a natural outpouring of the love we have for Him. They’re not what guarantee we’ll one day spend eternity with God. They’re the visible, external fruit of the amazing transformation and hold He has on our hearts.
“Do you have passion for Jesus Christ? Do you have a love affair for the Word of God?”
My pastor asked us those questions this Sunday. They're questions I have to ask myself on a regular basis. I have to continually ask God that I would become less and He would become more.
So ask yourself, what’s the fruit of my life?
Do you want to spend time with God, in prayer, in His Word, and living a life for Him? That’s what living a “saved” life looks like. It’s not about doing a certain number of good deeds to tip the scales in your favor. If you’re living a life based on deeds and good works, you’ll never be satisfied. You’ll never not be sinful, and you'll never know what's going to happen on the day you laid to rest.
Knowing we are saved doesn't mean we don't do good works or that we live our lives however we want because we're guaranteed to go to heaven. If we're truly a Believer, then we're fully living in our new identity. When we're saved, we can't help but do good works to serve God with every ounce of our being.
God looked at His creation and declared it to be good. He looked at man and declared him to be very good. Did you catch that? He looks at you and me and says we are very good. He loves us in a way we cannot even comprehend. We are worth Jesus to Him—the only perfect man who ever lived, fully man and fully God. That is how much God loves us.
When we are Believers, we are no longer under the law but grace. Grace multiplied even more through Christ Jesus.
That is the most freeing, joyful news possible, friends. That should bring us peace that warms us to our very core. We get to have life beyond this one, a life with Jesus in eternity. And when craziness ensues in the world around us, we can be sure of the kingdom that awaits us. You're invited to His table. All you have to do is surrender to Christ. By grace through faith.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.