Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
This chapter as a whole is talking about the salvation of the Jews, and as such is very important, but this one little verse has deep implications for everyone. A surprising number of Christians, though saved by grace through faith, (Ephesians 2:8-9) turn around and essentially negate that grace through trying to earn God’s favor. The problem is hardly new: Paul’s letter to the Galatians was written about this exact issue. However, if it was important enough for Paul to write a whole book of the Bible about it, we had better pay attention! The problem can actually become pretty complicated. It’s not at all that our actions don’t matter. We are accountable to God for everything we do and even every word we say. (Matthew 12:36) However, that doesn’t negate the fact that we can never be good enough, since we are fundamentally stained with sin. The path of salvation isn’t climbing a mountain, figuratively or literally, but simply recognizing our absolute need of salvation and believing that Jesus died for us. Once we have done that, then our activities are to be a response to that overwhelming grace, not an effort to earn it. As Paul said right after that famous bit I already mentioned about salvation by grace through faith, God has plenty for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) Abiding in God’s grace is never stagnant. The doctrine of “Once saved always saved” doesn’t mean we get put on a shelf until we eventually go to heaven. We can’t earn salvation, but the better we grasp God’s love and grace, the more totally we will be dedicated to serving Him however He desires.
Of course this applies to me the same way it does to everyone else. I have dedicated my life to serving God, and the Bible is clear that I will be rewarded for that, but it is only by God’s grace that any of it has even been possible. I recognize that I have urges within me that utterly disqualify me from approaching God in His holiness, but at the same time I am assured that the cross of Christ was sufficient to cover all of that. When I was in high school I did a presentation in an English class on methods of torture, some of which I had thought up myself! I know that in my flesh I am capable of unspeakable horror and filth, but I also know that God’s grace is sufficient even for me, and when I am yielded to Him, He actually uses me. It is my infinite privilege to share that grace with others, in word and in action, with the prayer that they too may repent and believe for their salvation.
Father, thank You for Your grace that is beyond words to express fully. Help me live every moment in response to that grace, with gratitude that wells up in praise and worship to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!