The Love of God: It Makes us Whole

The Love of God: It Makes Us WholeThis week, as part of our church’s New Year devotional, we’ve been memorizing Ephesians 2:8,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

I’ve heard this scripture for years. So much so, that I’ve become quite familiar with it. But, that’s not a good thing. Too often, familiarity breeds complacency. The more we know something, the less importance we give it. It’s the “curse of knowledge”.

Each day this week as I said those words, something started to stir my soul. I began to realize that incredible freedom lies in the truth of these words. Freedom from fear, anxiety, torment and panic attacks is right there in these words.

Let me show you.

  • By grace
  • You have been saved
  • Through faith

By Grace

I’ve been sharing these past few weeks about how righteousness is a gift from God. It’s not something we can earn or work for. It’s a gift, just it says in Ephesians 2:8 and 9. In Romans 4, Paul contrasts the difference between a wage and gift, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (v4, 5).

When you work for your right standing with God, then it’s accounted to you as a wage. The problem is that God requires perfection, so the wage becomes a debt against you that you’ll never  be able to pay. None of us will ever be able to meet his requirements for righteousness, but he knew that, and he sent his Son to take our sin and give us his righteousness as a gift.

So, what is this gift that we have received by grace?

You have been Saved

The gift is salvation, but again, we are so familiar with this word. Do we really know what it means to be saved? What are we saved from?

To fully understand what it means, let’s go to the original language of the New Testament. This word saved comes from the Greek word sozo (sode’-zo). This word literally means “to be made whole in our body, soul and spirit.”

Too often, we think of it as being saved from hell. Salvation is so much more than that. Jesus didn’t just die to  keep you out of hell–he died to make you whole (Isaiah 53:4-5), give you freedom (John 8:32), and to give you an abundant life (John 10:10).

Fear, panic, depression, and anxiety are often the results of deep, emotional wounds and trauma. You need to know that Jesus died to set you free from those crippling things, so that you can live life abundantly. He died to make you whole!

Through Faith

Like the word saved, I believe we have also become too familiar with this word faith. We’ve given it a variety of meanings and variations. She’s of this faith and he’s of that faith.  If I just had more faith, then God surely would respond to my prayers.

Again, let me go back to the original language. This word faith comes from the Greek word pistis. Throughout the New Testament, it is translated as “faith”.  Interestingly, the verb variation of this word is pisteuo, which is translated as “believe”. The word “faith” in the New Testament simply means belief or believing. To have faith is simply to believe.

Now, combine these three phrases: By grace, you have been saved, through faith.

Here’s the Season of Peace paraphrase: When you can truly believe that righteousness in Christ is a gift from God, you will be made whole in your body, soul and spirit.

This is such truth to me. I have experienced deeper levels of freedom and peace knowing that God is pleased with me. I can now boldly come into the throne of grace in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16), and talk to God as my Father. I don’t have to strive and strain to please him. He’s happy with me just as I am, because he has given me a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

Prayer: Father, help me understand more and more how by grace I have been saved through faith.

The Love of God: It’s Unconditional

The Love of God: It's UnconditionalGod’s love for us is unconditional. His love is not based on our performance, our goodness, or anything we can or can’t do. His love is a gift, freely given to us. All we have to do is receive it.

“What about sin? Doesn’t sin separate us from God?”

I believe there was a time when sin did separate us from God. Isaiah 59:2 confirms, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Before Jesus came to earth, people lived under a different agreement or different convenant with God. Their sins were held against them. The High Priest would perform daily sacrifices to deal with the sins of the people. Until Christ came, sin separated people from God.

Today, we live under a new agreement, and Jesus—our new High Priest—died once for all of our sins. Here’s how the writer of Hebrews describes it: “Under the old covenant, the priest stands before the altar day after day, offering sacrifices that can never take away sins. But our High Priest (Jesus) offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand” (v10:11, 12).

Did you catch that? Jesus died as “one sacrifice for sins, good for all time.” Paul explains it this way, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus died for your sins, once and for all. They are dealt with completely. Your past sins, your present sins, and your future sins are no longer counted against you.

This is great news! Now, there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).

Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Nothing. He made a Way for you to come to him just as you are. What’s holding you back? “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

I encourage you this week to boldly come before the throne of grace in your time of need. Jesus made a way for you to do that. God is ready to receive you, with his arms open wide and a loving smile on his face. He wants you to come running into his arms. He loves you more than you know.

There’s nothing you can do to disappoint God.

Prayer: Father, show me how much you love me. I come to you right now just as I am. Receive me into your arms of love.