I would expect that many cringed when they read that title! I am sure some even thought this was a false statement. I pray you read on and then decide what you will believe…as for me, I have made my decision based in part on the following scriptures (but not limited to these scriptures alone):
Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
This world we live in is far from being worthy of a Savior; yet, God so desires a relationship with humanity, His lone creation made in His image, that He was willing to offer up the only sacrifice that was worthy enough to cover the fate and sin of the world, the sin that we deal with on a daily basis. That sacrifice was God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and He is the only reason we have hope in the sin sick world we live. How amazing is it that even while we were still living out our sinful desires and wicked ways, He died for us! Grace personified in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Yet, we still keep falling into the trap that we have to do something, anything, to gain or keep His love for us…as if we have the power to change God’s heart. Through His grace, Christ has provided a way for us to live with God eternally – the sentence for sin is death and He beat death on our behalf!
Ephesians 2:8-9 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.
Grace has been given to all who have faith in Jesus, making Him Savior and Lord! No works or deeds are required of us to gain His love or grace…if Jesus required our works to gain His grace, then His sacrifice was not required! There is nothing we can do, we must simply put our faith in Him that it is done!
No works….here’s a thought provoking statement that goes against the grain of religion: Not even the work of repentance can gain you the free gift of God’s grace. If the verse above holds true, our salvation, the free gift of grace, does not hinge upon our repentance! If it did we would have a means to boast in what we have done! So the question, “can I be gay and a Christian” really does make sense as one’s salvation doesn’t hinge upon our sexual orientation or any other behavior or lifestyle, regardless if you feel it is a sin or not. Our salvation hinges solely on Christ’s work on the cross, and His sacrifice is enough to allow us the grace to trust in Him and let Him work within us to make us who He wants us to be! Our repentance can only come after we have accepted the gift of grace as a response to love we have for Jesus and Him alone. Repentance comes out of who we are becoming through Christ, but in no way proves a hindrance to our salvation. Repentance is between you and God, not for you to point out in others! Each one of us has enough sin in our life to deal with without pointing out where we feel someone else is falling short!
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
What “good works” has God created you to accomplish? Too often we look at the verse on the tail of verses 8 and 9 and say, “see, we are supposed to do works (including but not limited to repentance) to stay in His good grace.” But that is not what Paul is saying here. He is simply saying that God created mankind for a purpose…and each of us has a calling from God. His calling in our lives is the only “good works” we can even hope to fulfill! And here’s another caveat: we must read these words for our own lives and not try to force something upon others. God is working in each of our hearts in different ways, so my calling looks different than yours. When the bible refers to “good works” it is always in relation to people around us, not in relation to God! With God, it is finished through Jesus! God never needs or wants our good works, but our neighbor does!
Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Another great reminder of this truth – Grace is a free gift for those who have faith in Jesus! That is it, no extra’s, no repentance, no getting cleaned up before beginning a relationship with Jesus, no condemnation…simply a loving God offering up a relationship with Him by trusting that Jesus is who He said He was and having faith that God’s grace is enough.
At this point there is usually a big, BUT…yet, in God’s word that is it! We can add all the works we want to the new believer, but it’s not biblical! There is nothing we can do to get “better” or “do good”. His grace means It Is Done! Finished! When we try to add things to do for the new believer we are in essence sentencing them to a roller coaster faith that will have them on highs when they are performing well and lows when they forget to read their bibles or fall back into that sin that had them captive for years. What the new believer needs is a relationship with you! They need someone who is navigating this faith life to come alongside them and build a relationship with them right where they are…it’s seldom enough to give someone a list of things to do and expect them to build a strong faith life built on grace. We need to be in relationship, doing life so that true biblical discipleship can happen! That is why I love the term Relational Discipleship – it encompasses the need for relationship in the discipleship process! Just like in our faith, relationship is the key to everything…and after all, Jesus modeled it first!
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
THIS IS GOOD NEWS!!! We must remember that Jesus did not come to condemn, and His people must not condemn either! As followers of Jesus, what we can do is build relationships, point people to our Savior and love them enough to walk with them as they make eternal decisions! We can be disciples who are making disciples while allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of those in which we are in relationship! God is big enough and in control enough to allow us to love our neighbors while He transforms them…it is His job to change people He wants to change, not ours! Our job is to love God and love our neighbors which requires relationships built on grace!