Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spiritual Poverty & Salvation: Unworthy Servants Saved by Grace

Something to ponder: Do you think that if you chose to give $100 to your pastor today, that he would deserve it? We’ll come back to that in a moment.

The poor in spirit are saved by trusting God: this is what grace is all about. What does “grace” mean? The textbook definition is: undeserved favour. Consider “underserved” – it means you don’t deserve it, and you haven’t earned it. Grace, or a free gift, is undeserved.

Let’s say I give my pastor $100 – as a free gift. That would be grace. No matter how wonderful you think he is, he is underserving of that gift. If he deserved it, then I was just paying what was owed, and it wasn’t a gift. That would be wages.

If you agreed that your pastor $100 was something he deserved, then you should pay him that money as soon as possible. If he deserves it from you, you owe it to him. You have an outstanding debt.

A gift cannot be earned – grace cannot be earned. If you do earn it, it stops being a gift.

Consider Romans 4:4 – “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.”

Read: Ephesians 2:8-10.

God’s mercy in salvation is a gift, by grace. It’s not your own doing. You don’t deserve it, at all, not even a little bit. If you’ve been saved, there’s nothing you’ve done that you can point to that says, “here is why I deserved God’s mercy”.

Your good works and my good works are the outcome of our salvation, not the cause. We are created to go and do the good works that God has already prepared in front of us to do. God wrote that to-do list before he saved you.

And here is a grave warning: do not for one moment think that after a lifetime of obediently doing these good works that he has prepared for you to do, that you have now earned any part of your salvation. Don’t think that you’ve paid any of it back, or that you’ve “given something back to God”. If you believe you’ve put something back into the moral scales, then grace is no longer grace, and you are trying to be saved by works, and you will fail.

This is why being poor in spirit is not just for a moment of confession and repentance at the time of salvation. Being poor in spirit is an all-of-life condition for those in the kingdom.

Jesus described what our attitude should be after performing all the works that God has prepared for us to do.

Read: Luke 17:7-10.

Not many people have that as a wall text in their living room. Few of us have this as our true self-assessment and confession to God. I’m not talking about new believers here, but those who have spent decades serving God, doing what he has commanded. This is what it looks like to finish the race, remaining poor in spirit.

The practical application of this is simple, but difficult. Check your attitude often. If you see yourself as an unworthy servant of our Lord Jesus Christ: all is good. Otherwise, you’re humility is being replaced by pride. What a wonderful job I’m doing.

I want to give that definition of being poor in spirit I gave a few posts ago once gain, so you can think about whether I’ve shown that definition is correct or not:

To be poor in spirit means to humbly acknowledge that I am spiritually and morally bankrupt, with nothing to commend me to God. I am spiritually worthless.

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