Our lifespan may very well depend upon how long we expect to live. The Bible says that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” And here’s where a major dividing line comes into play: Do we believe Psalm 90? “The years of our lives are three score years and ten., i.e. 70, and at best, four score (80) but they are soon cut off and we fly away.” Psalm 90 is by Moses who brought the 10 laws down from Mt. Sinai.

Right next to 90 is David’s Psalm 91, one of his first psalms heralding the coining of the messiah. Here God blesses believers richly: “With long life I will satisfy them show them my salvation.”(Psl. 91:14-16) Moses, because he walked with God, was blessed with 120 years. But most people living under the law can only expect to live 70 or at best 80 years.

What we are looking at here is the difference between salvation through doing “the works of the law,” with its great demands, and salvation by faith that the messiah’s sacrifice for us on Calvary was enough to ransom our salvation.

The case I am making here is that “Amazing Grace” is our best hope for Heaven —unless you’re one of those who believe you’ve “earned” a place in Heaven by your own righteousness, holiness and good works. Hamlet didn’t think many would qualify: “Use every man according to his deserving, and who should escape whipping? Use him after your own nobility — the less he deserves, the more merit is in your grace .. “ And that, I think is how God, “whose mercies are new every morning,” sees us.

“He knows our frame; he knows that we are dust.” Still His intimate love of each of us understands that we are all fallen and fallible. That’s why he sent His son, Jesus, His “only begotten son,” to put on human flesh, live a perfect life, and become the sacrificial “lamb of god whose shed blood takes away the sin of the world.”

Given all of this, we come face-to-face with one of the great dividers between denominations. Some believe that “Christ’s grace is sufficient unto them.” Others feel that Christ’s victory on the cross might not have been quite enough. They cite James’ famous “faith without works is dead.” This does create a lot of religious performance to show one’s worthiness to God and others. They must assume that salvation by faith, simply believing” like faithful Abraham,”(Rom.4:3) can’t possibly be enough.

Paul clarifies this issue in his epistle to the Galatians: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ into another gospel.” That gospel, says Paul, is one infused with the legalism of Judaism. That, says Paul, puts one under “the curse of the law” — break one and you’ve broken them all. and you’ve “fallen from grace.”

Paul does not condemn the law itself: but he calls it our “school master,” teaching us that we are totally incapable of keeping it. Ben Franklin set out to try to keep the law and found that as fast as he thought he’d mastered one commandment, he found himself breaking another.

The standard argument against grace alone is that it invites sinning, but all those “thou shalt nots” convince many that they might as well not even try to “do right” and simply consign themselves to ‘doin’ the best that they can’.” And many stay home from churches that remind them of all the good deeds they have to do and sins they need to confess to keep their salvation.

One can see why Paul would write that “the strength of sin is the law.” He points out that Satan, “the accuser of the brethren,” skillfully uses the law to bring guilt and condemnation on those poor souls certain they are too bad to be saved. But here is the good news, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law having been made a curse for us.”(Gal.3:10-13)

It was in understanding this that the slave-trader, Isaac Watts, wrote perhaps the greatest hymn ever written, “Amazing Grace.” And it is also why the prostitute Jesus saved and forgave poured priceless ointment on his feet and washed them with her tears. Those who have been forgiven much are those most extravagant in their gratitude, and most likely to spread the good news to others as did the woman at the well: “Come! See a man who told me everything I ever did. Is not this the Christ?”(Jn.4:29)



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