So a little while ago I was talking to one of my friends at work discussing a certain group of individuals that were for all intents and purposes doing the wrong thing. I asked her why she didn’t invite them to church. She replied that we wouldn’t want those kinds of people at church because they were so bad. But, I replied, those are exactly the kinds of people we want in church. Even Jesus said that “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Then she replied that “God only helps those who help themselves.” I told her that that quote is unbiblical and that it is found no where in the Scripture. So where did that quote come from? After doing a quick internet search (you can find anything on the internet) I discovered that the quote is actually from Greek mythology (http://www.vesselofhonour.com/archives/000097.php) or something like that. I honestly don’t know how credible that website is, but I do know with all certainty that it is not found in the Bible.
Oddly enough, what makes it so unbiblical is the fact that we cannot help ourselves. There is really nothing that we can do. We’ve all heard the phrase “amazing grace” before so the question is “why is grace so amazing?” Well, let’s look at what we can do on our own. The Bible tells me that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Still with me? I would daresay that anyone who has ever had a job understands what wages are. Wages are normally given in exchange for some service that has been provided. Thus, wages are earned. I know there is a small minority that collects paychecks without working but for our example we’ll stick to the average public. Most of us work for our paycheck. So since we were all once sinners (we were really born into it) we all earned death. That’s plain and simple. But (aren’t you glad that God is the God of “but”?) God did not leave us there. He gave us a gift. He gave us eternal life through Jesus Christ. It is a gift because we cannot work for it or earn it. He gave it to us because he loves us. This is where the grace comes in. He gave us this gift even though we did nothing to earn it or deserve it. It is free.
But wait there’s more. If we look earlier in the book of Romans we’ll see that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). Again this is true. All of us have sinned and we all come short of the glory of God. But (there’s that “but” again) God did not leave us there. He had a bigger plan for us. Let’s read on! He goes on to say that we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (3:24). Because he had grace (or unmerited favor) he justified us freely. Free means free. Free means that we didn’t have to earn it. It is given to us.
One last verse. The Bible says that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). This is the counterpart to grace: it takes faith to put it in action. They go hand in hand, grace and faith. God can give us all the gifts he wants, but we don’t have enough faith to accept it, it will be useless to us. Another way to think about it is “whatever faith receives, grace provides.” There is nothing that we could have ever done to become saved on our own. It really is a free gift that is obtainable by faith. When you think about it, that is what makes grace truly amazing.