For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
“Supposing Jesus was the Son of God, is basic Christianity merely an acceptance of this fact? No. Once persuaded of the deity of His person, we must examine the nature of His work. What did He come to do? The biblical answer is, He “came into the world to save sinners.”
Jesus of Nazareth is the heavensent Savior we sinners need. We need to be forgiven and restored to fellowship with the all-holy God, from whom our sins have separated us. We need to be set free from our selfishness and given strength to live up to our ideals. We need to learn to love one another, friend and foe alike. This is the meaning of “salvation.” This is what Christ came to win for us by His death and resurrection.
Then is basic Christianity the belief that Jesus is the Son of God who came to be the Savior of the world? No, it is not even that. To assent to His divine person, to acknowledge man’s need of salvation, and to believe in Christ’s saving work are not enough. Christianity is not just a creed; it involves action. Our intellectual belief may be beyond criticism; but we have to translate our beliefs into deeds.
What must we do, then? We must commit ourselves, heart and mind, soul and will, home and life, personally and unreservedly to Jesus Christ. We must humble ourselves before Him. We must trust in Him as our Savior and submit to him as our Lord; and then go on to take our place as loyal members of the church and responsible citizens in the community.”
Four ideas from Stott inspire me this morning.
Firstly, “we need to be set free from selfishness and given strength to live up to our ideals.” This is an important response to the offer of salvation from Jesus. He’s saving us from ourselves and teaching us that we need His strength and not ours to live out our Christian existence.
Secondly, “we need to learn to love one another, friend and foe alike.” This is another powerful idea. Even as we are loved with an otherworldly kind of love, we need to love others the same way. This includes those that are different from us or those the world deems dangerous, unloveable or even undeserving of love.
Thirdly, “Christianity is not just a creed; it involves action.” Our heavenly salvation has an earthly purpose. Our new deeds or our ‘doing’ flows out of our new ‘being’ or identity in Christ and out of our ‘knowing’ the truth from the Word. The Apostles Paul and James sum it up: we are saved by grace through faith to do good works, and faith without such works is dead.
Fourthly, “we must humble ourselves before Him.” Stott reveals rightly that humility combines trust and submission. To live humbly is to live responsibly. This is not easy, but it opens the door to generous service that influences the lives of all those around us and shapes the world in which we live.
God, translate our beliefs into actions by your Holy Spirit. In your mercy, hear our prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.Read more