“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT
One of the most difficult things for a new Christian, or even older Christians, come to that, to understand is that we are all saved by grace. But there is something within all of us that wants to respond to a gift, especially a big gift, with some act of reciprocation. So if someone buys me a present, I want to respond in the same way and do the same for them. We get a glimpse of how good God has been to us, accepting that Jesus gave Himself sacrificially, dying for our sins. And we want to respond by doing things for Him. So we commit to joining the church cleaning rota, or spend time giving out tracts in the market place. And before we know it we are trying to justify the gift by feeling we have earned it. Pride kicks in and translates us into legalism. No! God’s gift of salvation can never be earned. Yes! We have been saved to “do the good things he planned for us long ago.” But we have not been saved by them. Salvation is a free gift. And we receive it when we came to accept and believe that Jesus died for our sins. A free gift that cost us nothing, but cost Jesus everything, even His life.
So in our pilgrimage, it is as though we transition through the doom and gloom of a dark and wet day (quite common in a Scottish winter – the word used here is “dreich“) into a glorious day of sunshine and light. The transition occurs when we believe in Jesus. Nothing for us to boast about here, except for how good God is. But in the sunshine and light we then suddenly come to realise that this pilgrim has become another person. The enormity of who we now have become bursts into our minds. God says we are now His masterpiece and have become a new person. We can look behind us at the wall of gloom, see an image of who we were standing in it, and then compare it with who we now have become. Standing in the sunshine. Made new. Assured that we are now how God wants us to be. And it’s all by His grace. Having that truth firmly planted and established in our hearts, we can now go out and do the good things He has planned for us. With a grateful heart. We do His work because we love Him.
In our life-journey there is a truth that the devil would want to take away from us. He would want us to be ordinary people. Nothing special. Nothing that would make us stand out in a crowd. What is this truth? It is that God “has created us anew in Christ Jesus“. And as a result, each one of us is His masterpiece. Not just “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). We are new people. So we can continue in our pilgrimages, reminding the devil what God has said about us. In the natural, in the physical, we may not be anything special. But if we put on our spiritual glasses, we will see a lot of grey corpses, children of the devil, dead in their sins, indistinguishable from each other. But we will also see, every now and then, a shining figure. Unique. God’s glory reflecting from them with a light so intense it cannot be missed. And we can say – “there’s another of God’s masterpieces”. That’s you and me, folks! So, fellow masterpieces, let’s praise and thank Him together today.