Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

There is a lot of saving to be done from God’s end. What does He save us from? What is boils down to, He saves us from ourselves. We have the potential to destroy ourselves in the course of a lifetime. There is no formula with which we can beat the restlessness that lurks in every human heart. There is only one known cure: the restless heart finds its way back home. Our home base is Heaven. That’s where we belong. Nothing on Earth replaces Heaven. There are cheap imitations, but they don’t work. Our restless heart needs the real thing.

God is real. He is actually more real than reality around us. The things that we can touch, see, hear, smell and taste are here today and gone tomorrow. God on the other hand stays around forever.

We are not alone. God created a lot of life, and He didn’t stop with the human race. He is the Creator of an entire universe. The life He created has the ability to make independent decisions, which is risky. It means that any of the life forms He created could potentially turn against Him. And as a matter of fact, that has happened.

If reality was a river, the stream would pull us in all kinds of different directions. There are forces pushing and pulling that are clearly beyond our control. We should be aware that some of the forces we are encountering clearly hate God. Those forces are responsible for God’s misrepresentation. Thankfully, there are also good forces at work representing Him well; those are the ones who independently decided for God, not against Him.

Picture yourself in the middle of such a ferocious wild stream. If you like river rafting you might even enjoy life’s wild ride. To make it through though, we too have to make up our minds about God.

Nothing is as cut and dry as we wish it to be. We may have decided to side with the Lord yesterday and have turned our backs on Him today. Life is ferocious; the waves are over our heads. God knows. He once lived on Earth as a human being. He has literally been there, done that. Jesus has since returned to Heaven, but His heart is still here. Putting our faith in Jesus, we will not be disappointed. He is our Savior. That’s who He is.

If we fail, God forgives us in a heartbeat. We all need grace. We get another chance and start over. And here is the good news for you and me: God is never running out of grace.

John 6:29: “Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.’”

If we’re part of Western society we are perhaps familiar with the term “rat race”. Wikipedia defines a rat race as:

“An endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit; it conjures up the image of lab rats racing through a maze to get the ‘cheese’ much like society racing to get ahead financially.”

All too often we get caught up in the material way of thinking – bills have to be paid, we need food on the table, and in order to pay our bills and get food on the table we need to work. It is very human to think that the kingdom of God is set up the same way, i.e. we have to earn our way to heaven. That’s what people think nowadays, and that’s what people thought in Jesus’ day, hence the question came up (John 6:28):

“Then they asked him [Jesus], ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’”

Now, that’s an understandable question. We assume we have to do something so that God can bless us. “There is no such thing as free lunch” is what we typically say. Well, actually, there is – When Jesus fed 5000 people He did not get paid.

Obviously, we don’t have to pay God to love us. There is such a thing as unconditional love. God loves us, period.

So, what is there left to do? Nothing! Absolutely nothing – and this is the rationale of Jesus’s reply when He basically says: ‘All work is done!’ Interestingly, He puts it this way (John 6:29):

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Even the one condition that grants us salvation: believing in the One God has sent – is God’s work, not ours, and that makes perfect sense. Have you ever tried to love someone because you were told to? How did that work out for you?

In all reality, both faith and love are a gift from God. We love the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit not because we worked hard to believe but because it was given to us as a free gift.

That’s God’s amazing grace in action.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” (John Newton)

John 3:17: “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

Isn’t it great to receive a raving performance review? It will make our day to hear how we have exceeded expectations. And yet, there’s always this element of fear before we walk into the room to listen to our supervisor’s take on our performance – because our achievements as well as our shortcomings will be assessed, that’s just how it goes.

Every day people pass judgment or are being judged. We may not like that, but we know that this is how our society works. In the drift sand of anarchy and lawlessness mankind would have had no chance of survival. That’s why ultimately the law was given to mankind. The criminal justice system keeps things at bay, but it does not bring salvation.

Judging a person, we will most likely miss the whole picture. Try as we may, our judgment calls are flawed. The only perfect judge of a situation or a human being is God. Still, being judged by God is not a good situation for us either. Although God is a fair judge and His judgement is 100 percent correct, our death is the direct result – thankfully, God is the first to lament the cruelty of judgment and the finality of it.

That is why God sent His Son into the world – particularly not to judge the world – since judgment obviously initiates no happy ending – God sent His Son into the world to restore and save humanity. That’s the best possible outcome for a bad situation we got ourselves into. He came up with an unusual salvation plan. God becoming human is very unusual to say the least. But then His love is quite unusual too, and it’s His love that motivates His sacrifice. No measuring of His love is possible. God’s love meter goes beyond all expectations. His passion for us is an undying flame.

Looking at the way God chose to save us is looking at a divine love declaration written all over the skies, a love letter written in stone. It’s love that never goes away. God is in permanent search mode looking for the lost and broken and reaching out daily. His call goes around the world. Given all the effort He has put in, can you imagine His joy once we answer His call and grab His hand? Like His love, His joy is immeasurable.

Saving us is no easy business. It requires blood, sweat and tears, but feeling guilty about that would be entirely counterproductive. If we asked Jesus how He feels about us after all that He had been through, He would probably say that the last thing He wants for us is feeling guilty all the time. He voluntarily sacrificed Himself to save us, and His gift comes with absolutely no strings attached. I believe we make Him happiest when we accept His gift and never look back.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)