Eight years after I came to Christ, I was wondering how things had turned out so badly. I was doing many “Christian” things. But even while I was doing them, I was struggling with sin. It didn’t make sense to me at all. The bottom line was, I didn’t know what it meant to be a Christian or how I was supposed to live as a Christian. I was hearing stuff in church–just not the right stuff. Based on what I was hearing and my own understanding, I developed a belief system to guide me forward. Unfortunately, this system wasn’t based on truth. Here is what I believed back then.
• I was basically a good person.
• Christianity was a self-improvement program.
• Grace was the door into Christianity.
• Jesus Christ came to help make me a better person.
I thought I needed Jesus to help me become a better person. But I wasn’t getting better at all. Every step I took forward was followed by two steps back. By the time I reached my senior year in college, backward was the only direction I was going. I was left trying to answer these two nagging questions:
• How can I call myself a Christian but experience so little power for change?
• How can I be so sincere and eager yet struggle so much with temptation?
Thanks to a bible study in Atlanta, I finally discovered that Christianity is simply grace, from start to finish. Nothing more, nothing less. Grace is the believer’s way of life. Not human effort. Not rules, or principles, or regulations.
We live exactly the same way we are saved. Paul laid it out in one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture, Ephesians 2:8-9. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (ESV). We are saved by grace through faith, and we are to live by grace through faith. It’s that simple.