"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Free, But with Strings

They say salvation is free, and indeed it is, because God’s word tells us so, for example, in Ephesians 2:8-9. Living in this world has taught us that if we see something offered free of charge there are always strings attached. So our natural reaction to the gospel of Grace is to examine it for strings.
By the wisdom unique to God, something—in this case salvation from our guilt of and punishment for sin—is both free and costly. It cost our Father God the earthly life of His Son Jesus; it’s no small thing that the divine Creator of the universe willingly experienced our human frailty, sin, and death to ultimately free us from all of the above.

What does He ask in return?
Absolutely nothing that we won’t freely give. Of the many passages in God’s word that deal with our response to His grace, one stands out with the simplest, clearest statement: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

How can our response be mandatory if the gift is free?
God’s gift of eternal salvation doesn’t just give us a relationship with God and eternity in heaven, it changes us elementally: From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:16-19 ESV)
The best part of God’s gospel is that He recreates those who believe and obey it. Sin is no longer our natural mode of operation, but to the new creation is an aberration, something to be avoided, or regretted and repented of.
So, what’s the big deal if God’s grace does come with strings attached? If we truly belong to Him, the strings are the best part.

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