“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2.8-9).
What major event took place on September 1, 1159? Give up? Nicholas Breakspear died that day. Who in the world was Nicholas Breakspear? Oh, maybe you don’t recognize him without his titled name: Pope Adrian IV. Perhaps you ask, “How did he die?” He choked on a gnat in his wine. Bummer! What a weird way for a distinguished man to die.
Well, I wonder if you have ever choked on a gnat, scripturally speaking. Have you ever read your Bible and found yourself wincing at a particular verse or two? Some of you erudite Presbyterians will immediately cite Paul’s words to the Romans. “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Romans 9.18). Or maybe you rush off to Jesus’ dialogue in John 6: “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil” (John 6.70). Then you think about Solomon’s shocking words in Proverbs. “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Proverbs 16.4).
I don’t know what is rattling around in your head, but I know which verse I am still choking on today. Paul said something two thousand years ago that puzzles and propels me in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He said: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2.8-9). If that verse does not warm your heart—you have wet tinder.
Why do I have such a hard time swallowing this verse? Because this verse is God’s jawbreaker, and you cannot bite into it or you will break your teeth. You have to allow time for it to dissolve in your mouth as well as your soul.
God loved me so much that His Son made himself extremely vile so that I am clean. I was unable to save myself and yet He saved me by His grace. What a gift!
But wait. If you have been given this gift, then what should you do with it? Yes, worship Him but worship Him by sharing this message (salvation by God’s grace alone in Christ alone) with as many people as possible until you take your last breath.
You and I already have the greatest eternal retirement plan in Christ Jesus. We will not outlive our income, have to reduce our standard of living or worry about sickness with this eternal retirement plan. Will you share this simple message with others? Jesus lives and so shall I!
Earnestly pray that we would not easily swallow “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2.8-9). Rather, may we choke on the gospel of Jesus Christ until we see him face to face.
God bless you and your family.
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