Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3, 4, NIV.
When I was a child we were taught that only good children can go to heaven; if I were disobedient in any way I couldn’t go to heaven. That thought frightened me considerably, and I tried to be a good girl. Parents, teachers, pastors, all seemed to say the same thing—good behavior would get us saved. How we dreamed of the heavenly mansions, only to be discouraged when we disobeyed. It was all based on behaviorism.
Then while I was attending a Christian college, I was with a group of girls who were visiting a faculty member in her home. We gathered around the piano to sing as one girl played what was then a new song, “The Holy City.” For the first time I heard and sang these words, “The gates were open wide, and all who would, might enter, and no one was denied!” For the first time it dawned on me that there was a chance for me, that it’s not behavior that saves us but the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by His blood, shed on Calvary! I began to accept that grace and believe by faith in Christ’s righteousness. What hope!
Some years later I began to hear consistently a more hopeful message: we are saved by faith in the righteousness of Christ. His grace saves us from eternal death when we accept His forgiveness by confessing our sins. And we find a daily relationship with Him. I wondered why it took so long for that direction to change.
I memorized Romans 5:1-9 and found the hope I needed, hope like this: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (NIV), and “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9, NIV). How I treasured those words! And I found many more such verses in my Bible.
Gone were the dreadful fears of eternal loss because of my wrong behavior, or failure in any detail of life. Gone was the pride in my good works! As we begin this New Year, won’t you join me in making it our goal to cling to our Savior’s grace which brings out our love for Him, and give ourselves in His service? What joy!