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The gift of God's grace

February 9, 2009

by Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

It is the way things normally work. Life is filled with all sorts of conditions for us to meet.

If we eat well, we will grow up to be big and strong. If we study, we will earn a good grade. If we perform well on the job, we will receive a raise and a promotion.

Naturally, we assume that this is how it works in our relationship with God. After all, why else would he bother giving us the Ten Commandments? Therefore, many believe that if we live as kind and considerate people, and if we keep his commandments, we will earn God’s favor and gain eternal life.

But the grace and mercy of God are not conditional. Grace is not something to be earned. It is a gift. In other words, it is unconditional.

This is what the cross reveals. If we could earn God’s favor and gain eternal life, the cross Jesus bore for us would be unnecessary. As Paul states in his letter to the Galatians (2:21), such a condition means that his death would be for nothing.

The cross Jesus bore for us was not in vain. He offered his life as a sacrifice because we could not possibly earn God’s favor. Our sins have prevented us from gaining eternal life. For this reason, Jesus took upon himself all of our sins and suffered their punishment and death.

The crushing blow he endured on the cross for our sins was not his end, however. Christ rose again. His resurrection from the grave declares that we have God’s favor. Forgiveness for all has been achieved. Our sins can no longer prevent us from entering eternal life. No more conditions need to be met. Jesus has done it all for us.

This is why God gave us the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments demand perfect obedience in thought, word, and deed. Such a demand reveals that we have sinned. We have failed to meet God’s condition of holiness. Therefore, we need a Savior.

Jesus has come to be such a Savior for you. He lived the life of perfect obedience. He offered his unblemished life as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire world.

Because Jesus bore the sins of the world, forgiveness is freely given to all who trust in Him. Eternal life comes by way of gift, not by way of conditions. That is grace.