by Molly Noble Bull
I had a childhood playmate named Grace, but as a Christian, it was many years later that I learned the meaning of Grace. I can’t help but wonder if there are others like me—Christians who attend church or Bible study services regularly but never really understood the significance of Salvation by Grace alone vs. works. I don’t claim to know everything about this important topic, but I can share what I know.
We are told in church and on television that Jesus paid for our sins by his birth, death on the cross and resurrection. However, for some of us, that is a hard concept to comprehend—thus Grace vs. Works 101.
Many if not all of us have probably tried to achieve salvation by good works. I go to church every Sunday that I can. I teach Sunday school. I never killed anybody, etc. I try to be a good person. I—I—I.
I think of Salvation by works this way.
A man started a swimming club. He bought a building, had a pool installed and paid for all other expenses. The only requirement to swim in the club pool was to join the club, and the membership was free. One day the man decided to hold a swimming match at the club pool, and all the members entered.
Another swimmer who never got around to joining the club decided to enter the contest as well. On the day of the contest, the non-member jumped in the pool and swam faster than any of the others. He expected to win. But the man who swam the fastest didn’t win the trophy because he was not a member of the swimming club.
Salvation by Grace is like that. To become a Christian is like joining the swimming club. Good works have no affect unless we make the free will decision to become a child of God.
God doesn’t grade on the curve.
The Lord is perfect. He expects those who follow Him to be perfect, too. To commit one sin, whether we knew we were sinning or not, would make us ineligible to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, nobody ever lived a perfect life except the Lord, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we need a champion, if we hope to receive eternal life—a savior to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Perfection is the requirement to receive eternal life, and we don’t meet that requirement. But Jesus does. Like the man who started the swimming club and paid all the fees for joining the club, Jesus paid for our eternal life and entry into heaven with his blood on the cross, and Grace is what we call that free gift of eternal life.
I have a straight F spiritual report card. If I tried to enter the pearly gates with my straight F card, I would be pointed to the nearest down elevator. But because of what Jesus did for me on the cross, I won’t be using my straight F spiritual report card at the pearly gates. Jesus allows me to use his straight A + spiritual report card at the pearly gates, and I will go to heaven on his grade point average—not mine. We call this free gift Grace, and it is amazing.
My sins are paid for in full, and I have been declared righteous—but not because of anything I did. I will spend eternity in heaven because of what Jesus did for me by shedding his precious blood on the cross to pay for my sins.
I hope Grace, my childhood friend, became a part of God’s family, but I don’t know for sure. I never saw her again after my high school days. I can only pray that she did.
But this I do know.
Jesus is the only begotten son of God the Father, and on the day Jesus comes again, it won’t matter how many good works I have done during my lifetime. It will only matter that I believed—that I repented for all my sins, was baptized and made Jesus my Lord, Savior and King and that I continued to follow the Lord step-by-step and study his Word for the rest of my life.
Jesus is alive today and soon coming to planet earth again to judge it. In the Book of John, chapter 14 and verse 6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”