Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God.
If someone asked you “what must a person do to receive eternal life”? Your answer would be: “to believe or have faith in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”. Right? Correct!
Most Christians believe and understand this – they understand salvation comes through faith in Jesus. But what they may not fully understand is the grace side of this equation. Many people believe they have to do something, like clean up their life first, before they come to church, or before they will be accepted by God, or before God will do something for them.
Once Jesus met with a rich, young ruler who asked Jesus“what must a person do to receive eternal life”. (Luke 18:18-25) It was interesting that Jesus gave him a different response to what we said above. Instead of saying to believe in Him, Jesus said: “fulfill the law”. The rich ruler, revealing where he placed his trust, said: “I have kept all the law”. And Jesus then said there was one more thing he had to do, “give everything he owned away”. This was too hard for this man to do so he turned away from Jesus.
What Jesus was teaching this man is: eternal life does not come through trusting in your own efforts – like being able to comply with all the law. We cannot boast in our works, rather, it is a gift from God.
After this encounter, Jesus met with a chief tax collector (Zacchaeus), a man who was very corrupt and had stolen from so many people. After just one encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus declared he would give half of his wealth to the poor and repay everyone he had stolen from four times the amount! Jesus declared“salvation has come to this house!” (Luke 19:1-9)
Jesus is teaching you something about salvation and grace.
The rich man thought salvation came through your own effort and ability. Jesus had to show him that the law, i.e. ‘self-effort’, cannot save him. However, Zacchaeus, the chief of all sinners, received salvation by doing ‘nothing’ – all he did was have lunch with Jesus.
Jesus reveals that salvation comes by simply “receiving Jesus”. Salvation is a gift! And the Scriptures then reveal the response of a changed heart – of being transformed by Jesus.
Zacchaeus gave so much of what he possessed away! The rich ruler through the law wanted to hold onto everything he had gained – but grace transforms you from within and that love has to come out! The law has a sense of pride that boasts in oneself, and hoards things for oneself, whereas grace recognizes it is nothing to do with self – and therefore lets everything about self, go.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:31 “…let him who boasts, boast in the Lord”.
Don’t boast in what you have, or what you have done – rather, boast in Christ. He is your strength; your health; your provision; your wisdom; your hope; your righteousness and your salvation.