Someone objects: “All this talk about justification by grace through faith is largely theoretical. When we talk to real people, they want to know what they must do to be saved.” The down-to-earth, practical truth is that God saves us, apart from anything we deserve, attain or accomplish, for the sake of his Son Jesus Christ and on the basis of Jesus’ finished work of redemption. (Let’s listen in on the following conversation in progress.)
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Q. Can I perfect myself morally, or perform enough good deeds, or obey God’s commands so well, that God will look at my record and say, “Now, there’s a righteous person?”
A. No. You can never do anything to remove your own guilt or to cause God to view you as one who truly deserves divine acceptance and reward instead of divine rejection and punishment.
Q. Am I then without hope? May I never have peace with God, enjoy his forgiveness, and be truly accepted by him?
A. Do not despair, the gospel brings us good news! Although we all have broken fellowship with God by our self-will and our rebellious attitude toward the Creator, a brokenness that manifests itself in a multitude of shortcomings, wrong deeds, improper choices and distorted priorities, God has taken the matter into his own hands. In Jesus of Nazareth, God himself has done all that was necessary to reconcile us to himself and to set us in right relationship with himself.
Q. How did God possibly do that?
A. We can never fully understand this divine grace, but somehow he did it through Jesus’ perfectly-obedient life which he lived in our stead, and in his atoning death, which he offered in our place. God crowned this saving work by raising Jesus back to life from among the dead, showing his victory over death and evil in a decisive, powerful and dramatic way.