The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
In the movie, "Saving Private Ryan," Capt. John Miller tells Private James Ryan with his dying breath, "Earn this, James. Earn it." Capt. Miller and many of his men have given their lives to rescue Private Ryan, whose brothers have been killed in the war, and who the Department of War decides to remove from conflict to prevent further loss in the family. The scene serves as one of the most powerful moments in the history of film, and raises an interesting question:
Would the Lord Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice made possible our rescue from sin and redemption unto eternal life, say to believers, "Earn it?"
He would not.
"What saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Romans 4:3-8).
"But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" (Romans 5:15)
"The gift by grace" cannot be earned, nor having been received, can it ever be deserved. Salvation in the Lord Jesus provides the freest gift ever given, purchased by the highest cost ever remitted. Our Savior shed His blood, suffered abandonment by God on the cross, and experienced the greatest aberration ever known - "the Prince of life" died (Acts 3:15). No possible purchase or repayment for such a sacrifice exists. We could labor for a thousand eternities to "Earn it," and never approach requiting the price paid for our rescue.
"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
The Apostle Paul proclaims "all things" as God's gift to us in Christ. We can merit nothing, but rather must live as humble recipients of "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7). Our Heavenly Father looks at the ledger of His trusting children in Christ and sees nothing on the "Bills Due" side. He rather reads - written in His Son's blood - "Paid In Full." This includes our salvation and everything that will eternally grace us through the gift of our freely given relationship with Him. In His estimation, we owe Him nothing.
The thought always stills my heart and mind. How can this be? Everything in the believer's natural consciousness sounds and resounds that we owe Him all. Indeed, if such a sensibility does not reside within us, something seems very wrong. The truth remains, however, that we cannot genuinely serve God from a mere sense of servile obligation. Such a motivation would mean nothing to Him, and it would produce nothing of genuineness from us. The issue rather involves love, that is, God freely redeemed us by His grace, and gave His Holy Spirit to dwell within that we might freely love Him. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us… We love Him because He first loved us"(Romans 5:5; I John 4:19).
I love the scene in "Saving Private Ryan." As the movie concludes, Ryan visits the cemetery in Normandy where Capt. Miller and others are buried. Overwhelmed by emotion, he kneels at the grave of Capt. Miller and wonders if he has lived a life as "a good man." Has he earned it? In human terms, the question is completely appropriate. In Divine terms, however, the question does not apply. Never will our Lord ever say to us, "Earn it." He rather beckons us to humbly and freely receive "the unsearchable riches" He purchased for us at so great a cost (Ephesians 3:8). Our Heavenly Father directs our focus to the One who purchased all things for us by a sacrifice beyond all measure. The Lord Jesus Christ earned it. Thereby, and only thereby, will we relate to Him in the sincerity and loving devotion that pleases and honors Him. Yes, in God's heart and mind, we owe Him nothing. Let us embrace the challenging truth in our own hearts and minds. And then let us be amazed as in this sublime and holy light, we find loving our Lord in countenance, demeanor, attitude, word, and deed the genuine yearning of our hearts redeemed by the freest gift ever given.
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."
(I Corinthians 2:12)
Weekly Memory Verse
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.
(II Corinthians 2:14)