Grace is a Free Gift… Not a Free Pass

There seems to be some confusion about the nature of Christianity. Through the death and resurrection of Christ we are given the opportunity for a new life. This is an unmerited act of grace, meaning Jesus offers us a gift we could never deserve. When we accept this gift our lives should be transformed and the difference should be evident to others. With the Holy Spirit living within us we should see life from a different perspective. We are meant to bear fruit for God by acting as the hands and feet of Jesus today. In this way we can lead others to the freedom that we have found.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

John 15:1-4

When we are rooted in Jesus our lives naturally produce fruit. However, there are those who wear the name of Christ as a mask. Outwardly they appear devout and godly, but their hearts are filled with selfish and sinful intentions. This is deception is why Jesus curses the fig tree.

Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

Matthew 21:18-19

Outwardly the tree looked healthy and mature. It had everything that it needed to grow, yet it still wasn’t producing any fruit. Since the tree wasn’t producing fruit (its sole purpose) it was only wasting the resources it consumed. Similarly, we may appear to be Christians on the outside, but God still knows if we are dead on the inside. Producing fruit is evidence of authentic faith because it is a result of Christ living within us. It shows if we are truly rooted in Christ or if we are roored in the world. It isnt enough to simply believe that God exists or that Christ is his son, even Satan and his demons agree on this. We have to be changed by that truth and walk through life in faith.

This is an important reminder that while the gift of grace is freely given, it comes with a responsibility. We can no longer live for ourselves alone. Our lives as Christians should reflect the love of Christ to every person we encounter. Building on the foundation of grace offered by Jesus doesnt give us a free pass. We will be accountable for the lives we have built on that foundation.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

When we think about end times, Christians are often overconfident that they will be raptured away and spared from tribulation. Scripture shows, however, that only some will escape these trials. If you look at the seven churches in Revelation we see that Christians fall short in a variety of ways. For those who still need to be refined, the tribulation offers the opportunity to make necessary changes.

  • Church in Ephesus: Those who don’t tolerate wickedness, but have lost the love for Christ and for others.
  • Church in Smyrna: Martyrs
  • Church in Pergamum: Those who remain faithful, but tolerate corrupt practices and false doctrine.
  • Church in Thyatira: Those that have love, faith, and works of service but follow or tolerate the teaching of a false prophets.
  • Church in Sardis: Those who are only going through the motions of Christianity but are dead inside.
  • Church in Laodicea: Those who are self satisfied and complacent making them ambivalent about their faith.
  • Church in Philadelphia: Those who have held fast to the name of Jesus and all of his teaching and continued to patiently endure.

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Revelation 3:10

No fault was found among the martyrs and the Church in Philadelphia. Honestly ask yourself which church you belong to today. For those with no fault, you are merely asked to continue to hold on to what you have and to continue to wait patiently for Christ’s return. For those who belong to different church, it’s time to wake up before it’s too late! This is the message Jesus was telling us in the parable of the Ten Virgins.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Matthew 25:1-12

We don’t know what day Christ will return, but we need to be prepared. God refuels us through his Word and through prayer. If we remain connected with God our lamps are able to continue burning. This can light the way for ourselves and for others. We need allow God to be an active participant in our everyday lives, not just on Sundays. Otherwise, our lamps will burn out.

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