The title of my blog is called "Walking in His Grace," but I have never really specified why that is. Maybe what I have to write about today will help explain that further.
Grace: Gods Riches At Christ's Expense
My favorite Bible character, other than Jesus, would have to be the Apostle Paul. I see so much of myself in his testimony and story. In 1 Corinthians 15:8-11, Paul briefly describes who he was and presently is now that he has accepted Christ. His statement, "By grace I am what I am" is the basic premise of who he had become as an Apostle and follower of Christ. However, it's good to understand who Paul was before he got saved.
Who was Saul of Tarsus? (Saul was the name Paul answered to before getting saved; don't really understand the name change thing, so that's a whole other study and blog!) It is perfectly described in Philippians 3:4-6 that he was a Jew, a Pharisee, circumsised on the eighth day, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and concerning the law, he was blameless. He also, being a devout and very religious Jew, did not believe in Jesus Christ. He was a persecuter of Christians, which was part of his belief system. According to the standards of the society Saul lived in, he was a righteous, blameless, moral, and good man. Let's not forget that he was probably good looking and he was very well educated to go along with it. He was an upstanding citizen!
So, Saul wasn't an alcoholic or a rapist. He wasn't in prison for committing some obvious offense. We often think of a lost person and one of those types of people comes to mind. Paul was the opposite. What was wrong with him? Despite his good works and efforts, he was still a sinner. He still had to come to the conclusion that he was wrong, despite probably being told his entire life that he did it all right. He had to come to Christ and say, I'm a sinner, I have offended your law with that sin, and I need you.
Without Christ's grace, Saul was headed for hell. A lot of people don't like to talk about hell, but nonetheless it is a real place. Saul, a good man, was headed right to it. By being saved by the grace of God, that was no longer his eternal destiny.
Once Saul became Paul (like I said, I really need to study more into that name stuff), he was a changed man. Acts 9:20 talks about how he immediately began preaching in the synagogues, declaring that Jesus Christ was in fact the Son of God. (Paul's Jewish beliefs before getting saved contradicted that, mind you.) He knew the truth and had the indwelling Spirit of God living within Him. By the grace of God, he became what he was.
Who was Paul after getting saved? An apostle, the writer of the many popular epistles used in churches/books today. However, Paul didn't gloat on his achievements in Christ. He didn't say - "look what I can do for God, I am surely going to Heaven for this." No, only by the grace of God was Paul ever able to become those things. Only by the grace of God was Paul able to go to Heaven when he passed on from this life. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9 that he was the least of the apostles, because of what he had done to the church before getting saved. However, he goes on to say - "By the grace of God, I am what I am." He couldn't have done any of it without God's grace.
So who are you? Are you like Saul? Righteous by the law, moral, good, and upstanding? Do you try to keep the ten commandments in hopes of getting to Heaven? Or maybe you think that because you do certain things or you act a certain way, you are indeed saved. Or if you're a good person who helps out and gives money to the poor, God thinks you're good enough? If you've never trusted Christ as your Saviour, the sad reality is that you aren't. You aren't good enough and following good morals (while being a great thing to do) doesn't make you good in God's eyes. Only by His grace are you saved, not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
And who was I before getting saved? I could talk about how I used to smoke marijuana or how I didn't wait until marriage to have sex. Or how I totally dishonored my parents by being disrespectful. However, I wasn't at that place by the time I came to Christ. I was married to a preacher's kid, I went to church every time the doors were open, I stopped smoking all types of anyting, I pledged abstinence, I knew the Bible better than others, I prayed for my friends, and by all appearances - I was doing it right. I was blinded by the idea that if I did things right enough, I could earn my way to Heaven. However, that is not how it works. I had to come to a point where I realized that I was wrong, that I was a sinner, and no amount of good works would get me into Heaven. My knowledge of the Bible and good deeds meant nothing to God, because my heart wasn't right with God. I needed to repent and ask to be saved.
Who am I now? Simply a sinner saved by grace, no better than anyone else. The only good in me is because of God. I don't have anything because I deserve it or because I am good, but because God is good. Paul wasn't an apostle because he was awesome or well educated, but because God is good. By the grace of God, I am what I am.
If someone is reading this and simply doesn't understand what I am trying to say or interested in learning more, I am all ears. I don't shove things down people's throat, because I have learned that questioning and searching is important in learning about salvation and God Himself. Just know that there is an amazing and just God who loves you, despite your sin, and He wants a true relationship with you. It's really just up to you as to whether or not you'll accept His gift.