Great News for Us Failures

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 ESV)

Can you imagine living under Old Testament law? Eat this, not that. Wear this, not that. Oh yeah – and uphold the Ten Commandments and all the implications attached thereto. I can handle the part about not killing people, but I start to sweat when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:21-22 where He explains that anger against a brother is as good as murder.

When I first understood that the Law was meant to showcase the sinful bankruptcy of the human soul, I was confused. And I was also relieved. If we are supposed to live up to a perfect standard to please God, well, I reckon I’m out. You are too (and if you claim otherwise you’re also a liar, so add that to your tab). We are failures at righteousness.

Pastor Scott likes to say that we are not only undeserving of the grace of Christ, we are ill-deserving. Don’t miss this distinction. Undeserving is giving a beggar a dollar, while ill-deserving is giving a murderer a spot on your couch. The murderer not only doesn’t deserve to crash on your couch, he absolutely should not be under your roof under any circumstances.

Remember that stuff Jesus said about being angry makes us murderers? See where I’m going here?

The grace of Jesus is scandalous. It is generous beyond comprehension. I don’t mean to harp on the blackness of your soul, but if you don’t understand that first you won’t see the light of the cross. If we think we’re just undeserving our disposition is “oh, thanks man.” If we get that we are ill-deserving, we’ll drop our life at Jesus’ feet.

God’s grace is for you – and it’s for me. It’s for those of us that fall short. Which is all of us.

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Diving In

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17 ESV)


Imagine for a moment you are on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. If you’ve seen Deadliest Catch on TV, that’s the sea I’m talking about. Cold, churning, gray. Imagine a guy named Bill falls into the water amongst the froth and chunks of ice. Hypothermia will set in soon but the waves will drown him before he has a chance to get cold.

What’s your next move?

Well, you could throw a life preserver to him. You could scream “Catch Bill!” and toss a chance for survival into the wind and waves on a prayer. That’s better than nothing.

Or you could jump in after Bill. Sure, you might die and you both could go down. But maybe – just maybe – you could save him and get him to the boat and out of the clutches of death.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the latter. God being God, I guess He could have come up with another way to deliver us from our sinful bankruptcy. But Jesus chose to enter this world – and He knew full well how it would end. As He dove into our world, Jesus knew that it would result in our salvation and His painful death.

But Jesus could not remain dead. That would have meant a failed expedition to earth. For Jesus to remain dead would have proven His humanity but disproven His divinity. He needed to rise. And He did.

As you experience the wreckage of this broken world and pain slaps you around, know that Jesus gets it. He walked the same wretched paths of this world. In fact, He bore the wretchedness on his own shoulders. 

He is with you. He understands. 

Jesus dove in after us that we might live. Hallelujah, what a Savior.


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A Great Market For Jesus

…as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;

no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

(Romans 3:10-11)

Pastor Scott told a story this weekend that deserves retelling in case you missed it. Years ago he hung out with some investment traders (the guys who wear big shiny cufflinks and talk about earnings per share). One of these guys, I guess without joking, asked Scott what the ‘market is like’ for being a pastor. Scott’s response:

“It’s great. Everyone needs Jesus.”

As a business guy, the market analogy works for me. All need Jesus. And not some more than others, like ‘that guy really needs Jesus.’ That’s like sitting around in prison talking about who is guiltier. It doesn’t matter when you’re behind bars and you’re all wearing jumpsuits.

Well the dark and the light side of that analogy is that ‘everyone’ includes you and me. It’s not that we all need Jesus like we need a cup of water. We need Jesus like we need pardon from treason against God Himself.

But wait – didn’t Adam and Eve start this mess? They’re the ones who ate the wrong fruit and turned their back on God. We are just their relatives, born into a bad family – right? Unfortunately, no.

You and I would have played it the same way in the Garden of Eden.

We prove our sinful bankruptcy on a daily basis, both Christian and heathen. While the Christian is on a continual trajectory towards Christlike character, perfection is impossible. We all stand cuffed and guilty before God. We all need a savior.

Now for the good news. Jesus offers everyone salvation. He wishes that none would perish. His shoulders felt the weight of your sins so that your life could feel the warmth of His love. All are guilty, but all are free to approach the throne of grace for forgiveness and eternal communion with God. Jesus removes our shackles and grants freedom.

You won’t stop sinning after you meet Jesus. If anything, you’ll become more aware of just how sinful you are. But you will know what direction to head when you act out that wonderful family trait that we call sin.

Grace covered it all.

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