That’s a great question. I have two that tie for my top choices. Of course there are many things about the Christian life that are wonderful, but in the past few years, these two have had a very encouraging effect on me in new ways. I think part of the reason is because I don’t have the energy I once had. I can’t keep trying harder and harder. I’m realizing now that, that isn’t really the Gospel after all.
Truth one: The free grace of GOD. What an amazing gift!
The first has to do with the grace of GOD. It has affected me so much that I write often about it in direct and indirect ways. The Scripture passage that best describes it is here:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—
though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood,
much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,
much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:8-11 ESV
Christ didn’t die for me after I got all cleaned up. He loved me and dealt with my sin while I was still His enemy. He did all the work needed to bring about reconciliation because I wasn’t doing anything positive in that direction.Christ didn't die for me after I got all cleaned up. He loved me and dealt with my sin while I was still His enemy. He did all the work needed to bring about my reconciliation with Him. Click To Tweet
And what was His charge? Absolutely nothing! He charged me nothing. It was and continues to be a free gift. There was no charge in terms of money, or labor, or penance of any kind. It seems like that should be part of the equation, but it isn’t. The more you read through Scripture, the more you find that is NOT there.
The second truth: GOD is conforming me to the image of Jesus in His way and on His time schedule. He is doing the work. It is not up to me except to cooperate with Him.
The second truth that is related to GOD’s grace has to do with the process of sanctification. He is in the process of conforming me to the image of Christ. It is a big job. You may have heard the expression: What I am is GOD’s gift to me. What I become is my gift to GOD. It’s a nice saying, but when applied to the process of sanctification or growth in the Christian life, it isn’t very Biblical. For many years, I had the view that GOD did the work of saving me. Then, once I became a Christian, it was all up to me! This is so not true!
I am not advocating for sitting and doing nothing in the name of GOD doing all the work of sanctification. I think it is more like I am to be cooperating with the work He is doing. I look back now and see the things GOD did to work different character traits in me that I certainly had no desire to see developed. But the process He used during certain periods of my life, developed those traits. I didn’t have to sit down and decide what traits I needed to work on. GOD was doing the work.
This process of sanctification is certainly not a passive one. GOD uses so many ways of circumstances, Scripture, prayer, sermons, and Christian community to bring about the change He wants. It is always so interesting how He does it.
And I am sure of this,
that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6 ESV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
II Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed,
so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you,
both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,
among whom you shine as lights in the world,
holding fast to the word of life,
so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:12-16 ESV
I hope this answers your question.