Friday, October 28, 2005

What’s the Catch?

The title of this commentary is the question we ask when we are told something is free. Another expression is “Read the fine line.” Somehow we know that when we are told that something is free it does not really mean free - and, justly so. Free really means - Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty; not controlled by obligation or the will of another; without restraint nor confinement. A more correct word would be Gratis, which means - Without charge, out of kindness, costing nothing, complimentary, gratuitous, free. Maybe that is just the point – nothing in this world is without charge and out of kindness. Maybe that is why we use free instead of gratis. The fact is - for the most part – that in our world, when things are free they come with strings attached or there is an angle or agenda somewhere. We would not have the aforementioned expressions if this were not so. Take for example, the advertising, “Buy one and get one free.” There is an expectation that unless you can comply with the first half of the statement, then you cannot receive the second object free. Since Gratis would really mean free of charge, and with this scheme it is not, the term free is used to hide the fact that we are being lied to, when that marketing scheme is used. Another example is when we are offered free money as in a grant or scholarship. To get the money we must qualify, so there is somewhat of a cost involved in obtaining what it is given for free. Furthermore, very often you not only need to qualify, but the donating party has some expectation from you the receiving party. And the donator’s will make sure you live up to those expectations. This does not seem without cost or out of kindness, either.

No wonder when we hear, “Salvation is free,” we may then ask, “what’s the catch?” We wonder how will we have to prove that we qualify, must we have to purchase or do something in order to get the free part, or is God expecting something in return for what He did for us? We may ask if salvation by subscription? If so, will I have to renew every year? And, if I allow my salvation subscription to lapse, will I have to pay extra to be reinstated? We may think this to be silly. However, this is exactly, what we are being taught. When we say that salvation is only for believers, we say it only for those who qualify. When we say that Salvation is only for those who keep the law, then it is also by qualification. Then if we say that salvation is free but if we do not follow certain historical tenets or traditions than it will be stricken from us, then it is also not free. When we preach that every time we Sin we must be justified again, then Salvation is not free.

Ephesians 2 says that it is by Grace that we are saved. Let us read this passage in Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We know this, yet do we know what it truly means? Grace means unmerited favor. Grace is a gift we do not deserve. The Dictionary defines grace as, a disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill; mercy; clemency; a favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence. God out of generosity, mercy, and goodwill sent His Son to die, ”that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16.) God did not have to do so. He did it because He loves us unconditionally. Verse 17 continues, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” And, how does God save us through His Son. Ephesians gives us the answer. He put the whole world in Christ, so that corporately, we lived in Christ, we died in Christ, and resurrected in Christ.

This means that Salvation is at no cost to the whole world. We do not have to buy anything, we do not have to qualify, nor prove we are using well what is given to us to be saved. (In fact, outside of Christ we cannot do this no matter how hard we try.) Christ accomplished all that on the Cross – past tense. This fact is objective truth. This fact is Justification by Faith. And, no one can take that away from us. (We can, however, choose to reject the gift.)

Friends, God is not a man that He should lie, when He says salvation is by Grace it means it is at no cost to us. So it is, indeed, free or if you prefer gratis – at no cost with no fine lines, and no catches.

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