Breaking Down Grace and What it Means to Truly Follow Christ

(photo credit: Unsplash)

I’m going to jump right on in and say it; Going to church does not instantly make you a Christian, which I think many of us know, but frankly, many think that sitting in a church, listening to a Sunday sermon, and then living their lives precariously Monday through Saturday means “Christian.” Many in America say “I am a Christian,” but how many of them truly are? How many people are truly born-again Christians?

First off, being a Christian is not singing lyrics to a popular Christian song. Being a Christian is not putting a verse in your Instagram bio, nor is it just posting a picture of your Bible on social media. Instead, being a Christian means that you are dying to your old self and it is Christ that then lives in you. Being a Christian means picking up your cross, being a Christian means that you will place the truth of God’s Word above your “feelings,” and being a Christian means that when others walk the wide path filled with the “prosperity gospel,” you will walk down the narrow path of truth that is sharper than a two-edged sword.

Jesus says that the path is narrow, and few walk on it, for many walk the wide path, so how many people truly follow Christ? The answer will be unknown for only God knows the hearts of the people that live and breathe on this earth, but we do know what makes a believer a follower of Christ and we also know what God says about grace.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30

The one thing that makes me utterly exhausted are the debates on salvation or on what “constitutes” grace, for Jesus said His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Many base salvation on a list of works, many base salvation as a “merit system,” and many view salvation as something on a fishing pole that can be given and taken to you, and all of these things are wrong.

Before we look into what being a believer truly is, let us first define “salvation,” for without understanding salvation, being a Christian is impossible.

Salvation is a free gift given by God

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

We are not worthy of the grace of God, we are not worthy to have the mercy that has been given to us by God, and we are surely not worthy of the greatest sacrifice that Christ has given us, yet He died for us anyways so that we may have a way to eternal life. Jesus did not want to see us suffer, Jesus did not want us to be doomed to eternal damnation, nor did Jesus want us to drink the cup of wrath.

Therefore, He died for us so that death could be defeated, so grace is a free gift given by God, so that we can live. Grace is not bought, grace is not worked for, grace is not negotiated, and grace is simply grace, yet many complicate it, many confuse, and many twist it to fit their beliefs.

Salvation is free to all who accept it, salvation is offered to each person who is born, salvation was given the moment Christ defeated the grave, and salvation has only one meaning, not many. Salvation is not only given to some and not others, salvation is not something one has to purchase, and salvation is not based on one’s pride, but salvation is the free gift of God, plan and simple.

Salvation is through grace by faith, not of works, lest anyone should boast

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation is not based on what you do, for if salvation was based on works, then you would have many saying “I am a better Christian than you, for I did this” or “I did that,” and salvation was never meant to be a competition like a political election. The Pharassies based faith on religion and works, and Jesus detested them, for the Phrasisses were self-righteous people who boasted about their works, their deeds, their religion, and their “goodness,” yet they were horrible people with horrid hearts.

Therefore, salvation is based on grace through faith, for it is the faithful heart that God wants. If God wanted “perfect human beings,” then Jesus would not of had to die for us, but since we are not perfect, Christ did die for us. If salvation was based on a merit system or works, then it would take the focus off of Christ and onto ourselves for we would constantly think “What can I do to make myself look holier,” “What can I do that no one else has done,” “What can I do to boast myself?”

Salvation was not meant to glorify man, but it was meant to glorify God, but if you place the emphasis  on works, then it places an emphasis on the “goodness” of a man, and no man is good.

Salvation is given to sinners, not the righteous, for none are righteous

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

As I mentioned, no person on this earth is good, and none are righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Christ did not die for the righteous, for He died for the sinners. Through Christ we are made righteous and whole but it is only because of Him that we can become that. It is not by our own merits, it is not by our own goodness, and it is not by our own doing, for if we could “save ourselves,” then Christ would have died in vain, and God does nothing in vain.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8

The person who says the are perfect are the same ones who inherently say they need no God, for to claim to be “sinless,” one is saying that they need no Savior for redemption. There is a toxic and damaging lie that says “Christians do not sin,” which is far from the truth. Just because one is a Christian does not mean you are not going to sin, but being a Christian means that when you do sin, you have as  repentant heart and confess to your Lord.

being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24

Though Christians do not desire to willingly sin, we will sin somehow or another, but due to the grace of God, we can repent, we can pray, and we can directly communicate with God, for we all fall short of His glory; therefore, we are justified and redeemed through Christ, and it is only through Him that we are saved.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” 1 Timothy 4:1-2

Salvation is clearly and simply defined in the Bible, yet many twist it, turn it, and mold it into things it was never meant to be to fit what they want it too, which is why Paul warns us of false gospels, doctrines, and teachers. In 2019, we have “prosperity gospels” that are harmful to the soul, we have different versions of “Jesus,” we have people who heavily focus on religion and not on faith and grace, and then we have sugarcoasted gospels that only show half of the picture instead of the entire picture, which is also toxic to one’s souls.

However, now that we established salvation, we can now examine what it truly means to be a born-again Christian.

A Christian is a person who picks up their cross and follows Him

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

Though Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, one must pick up their cross and follow Him. One must be willing to give up everything for Christ, for what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but then loses his own soul? To pick up one’s cross means to deny this world and seek Christ. It means to bare His name, it means to be fully devoted to Him and not “half in,” and it means more than “labeling yourself a Christian.”

It means choosing the narrow path even though it will come with struggles, it means confessing by your mouth, and declaring that He is Lord over all and over your life, and it means denying the wide path regardless of how “enticing” it may looks, That is what picking up your cross means. A Christian is a person who goes right when the world goes left, a Christian is one who follows Christ rather than man, and a Christian is one who is alert and steadfast in Christ.

A Christian is a person who serves God, not the world

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

One cannot have two masters, and one cannot choose both God and the world. There is a reason why there are two paths, for one cannot straddle the fence. We must all choose either the wide path or the narrow path, which each have their own destinations. No one ends up in eternity without knowing why they are there, for God offers salvation to every single human to have ever lived, but it is up to us to choose.

Does one choose the world or God? A Christian is a person who chooses God and the narrow path. A Christian is a person who would rather be a fool to the world rather than be a fool to God, for a Christian is not meant to please the world, for we are here to please God. It is for the glory of God that we are alive, not for this world’s pleasure; therefore, a Christian has a desire to do things that are edifying to Christ. A Christian has a desire to serve God, to uphold His Word, and to stand strong in their faith, for this world continuously falls deeper into darkness.

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4

This world is not a friend of God, but it is an enemy of God, and one cannot be friends with the enemy and also be friends with God. One must choose a master, and a Christian chooses God, for we know that though there may be pain in the night, joy comes in the morning. His truth is worth more than what this world could give so we choose God, for this earth will one day dissolve like snow, and this world is not worth risking our eternity, for this world is only temporary, but eternity is forever.

A Christian is crucified with Christ, and it is Christ who lives inside of us

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Every Christian will display the fruits of the Spirit, and while we will have trouble with some of these fruits, we will still bare them. A non-Christian is incapable of producing such fruit, which is why Christ says “by their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20). In other words, a Christian is one who has been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer us who lives, but it is He who lives within us.

A Christian no longer desires the lives they had before Christ, for the redemptive power of Christ transforms you, your desires, and your outlook. You go from lost sinner to sinner saved by grace, you go from empty to filled with purpose, and you go from sad to filled with joy due to His love. A Christian makes a 180 from who they were before, for they are spiritually born into Christ; therefore, a Christian is a person who dies to their old selves, for it is now Him who lives within us.

A Christian, in simplistic words, is a person with a relationship with Christ

“Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:37

To be simplistic, a Christian is a person with a relationship with Christ. Being a Christian is more than saying “I am a Christian,” being a Christian is more than posting verses on Facebook, and being a Christian is more than going to church, for being a Christian means having a heart relationship with Christ, for He wants our hearts and a relationship with us. He wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being, and He wants us to be dedicated to Him fully, for it is impossible to be “half in” and “half out” with Christ.

A Christian does not place Christ second, but we place Him first. We love Christ for He loved us enough to die for us, we serve Him for He was willing to take our place, and we have a relationship with Christ, for we are not worthy of one. None of us are worthy to stand in His presence, and none of us are worthy to even understand the fullness of His love, but God was forgiving and allowed us to have His love anyways.

So in return, we are in love with Him, we worship Him, and we fellowship with Him. We make our relationship with Him our number one priority, for we have found eternal joy in Him, and that joy increases the more we grow closer to Him. Our relationship with Christ is the very being of who we are, for without Him, we are nothing.

In the end, it is simple. Grace is simple, salvation is simple, His yoke is easy while His burden is light, and all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. He is willing to forgive everyone who asks for His grace, He is willing to save any soul that humbly falls before Him, and His grace is not conditional, but it is unconditional and free.

This is what it means to be a true follower of Christ, this is what salvation is, and this is what grace is, and anyone or anything that twists grace into something else or into something complex has it wrong, for Jesus says it is free, He says it is by faith, and He says it is easy and light, so don’t complicate what God made simple.

5 thoughts on “Breaking Down Grace and What it Means to Truly Follow Christ

  1. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

    5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

    6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

    7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
    Titus 3:4-8 (KJV)

    Liked by 1 person

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