You are justified, forgiven, and set free by grace, a free gift—”for by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not as a result of works…” (Ephesians 2:8,9)
So then follows the question: Why live for God? Why do good? Why lay down your life if you already have everything for free?
And then follows the answer: Because we are so thankful. He died for us—how could we not live and die for him? Gratitude practically demands a reformed life.
The premise of the book that totally changed my way of thinking is that the above answer is at best weak and perhaps somewhat misleading. The book then lays out what is, in my opinion, a much better answer.
I didn’t include Future Grace in my last post, regarding books I have recently read, because I wanted to give it its own post. It is one of two “real” paper-turn-the-page books I brought with me to Madagascar, and I recently finished re-reading it.
I want a faith with power. I want a faith that not only forgives but also changes lives. That is what this book is all about and that is why I so appreciate it. It has my highest recommendation. I realize, however, that not everyone has the time to read bunches of books, so here is my best summary:
Gratitude is not what will sanctify a person. It is rarely, if ever, talked about in the Bible as a means or motivation for living a holy life. Yes of course, we are certainly to be thankful in all situations, but the Bible does not tell us that we are to do things “from the power of gratitute,” or to “walk by gratitude.” Gratitude is a great and joyful thing, but there is something that goes much deeper and is a much firmer foundation for laying one’s life down for God: Faith.
God does not ask for our main motivation to be gratitude. Our main motivation, the thing that gives us the power to live a holy and loving life, is faith. The Lord shows us his incredible grace, and promises to continue that grace in the future. Faith clings to this promise. The mindset is not, “I will abstain from sin because I am thankful for what God did.” Instead it is, “I will run after God because he has already proven his goodness, and he promises to continue to be that good and loving God. He has made better promises than the world. I believe him.” God offers life and joy and peace and happiness both now and forever. Sin also offers happiness and pleasure. Who will we trust? The key is faith, not gratitude.
There amazing unity within Christianity. What saves a person? Faith in the Savior’s blood-bought grace. What transforms a person? Faith in that same Savior.
So why fight pride? Because he promises to give grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)
Why fight lust? Because he promises that the pure in heart will see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Why fight anxiety and despair? Because he promises to never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
Why fight covetousness? Because he promises there is great gain in godliness with contentment. (1 Timothy 6:6)
Why fight impatience? Because he promises all things work together for good for those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
These aren’t tough commands to be followed because we are so thankful. They are promises. God knows where we will find an abundant life.
There is only one way I’ll make it through Madagascar. God has to come through. The same God who acted in the past must be here today and tomorrow and the next day until this race is done, and graciously, he has promised just that. He will not fail to fulfill any of his promises. His promises are better than sin and better than life, and this is the truth I must desperately hold onto with what faith I have.
Why do those freely forgiven by grace live for God? Because they believe God.