Friday, February 22, 2013

Payment or Gift?

Anyone who has had a job understands that there is a direct correlation between how much they work and how much they get paid.  So, if you worked for 20 hours you will get paid for 20 hours of work.  These are our wages (or for some, salary).  Each job and workplace offers different wages and when we are hired we agree with our employer of our wages.  But, sometimes we receive a gift; a gift that really was given to us freely.  For example, as parents it brings us great joy to give good gifts to our children.  Sometimes we choose to wait until their birthday or other special event, but sometimes we buy them something just because we love them.  Paul writes of the fact that there are also spiritual wages that we have, but there is also an incredible gift given to us by God.

Today, as I am continuing on through the Community Bible Experience, I read through the first eight chapters of Romans.  I know I have been saying this a lot; however, it really has been refreshing to read through this letter without having all the chapter and verse breaks and all the editor headings.  It really does allow us to read with a much bigger picture in mind.  Today, Paul was writing to the Roman church explaining that the gift of salvation was open not only to Jewish believers but to the Gentiles as well.  He was explaining that it truly was a gift not based on what we do (works) but what we believe.  I caught something new that I never noticed before and I wanted to share it with you.

In Romans 3 and 4, Paul showed that it is not by works and circumcision that we receive salvation.  He explained that Abraham received righteousness because he believed God (Romans 4:3) and that this righteousness was given to him before he was circumcised (Romans 4:10).  Paul began to explain this by equating it to the wages one earns through working.  In Romans 4:4-5 (NIV) Paul wrote, "Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness."  Paul spent the next few chapters explaining that there is nothing that we can do to "earn" righteousness because the Law only gives us condemnation.  However, righteousness is given to us as a gift from God.  He sums it up in Romans 6:23 (NIV), "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  So, when we try to work for righteousness we will always be condemned by our sin and will receive death; however, when we believe in the salvation we receive through Christ's death and resurrection we are given the gift of eternal life!

There are so many other important points that Paul made in these verses, and I would highly encourage you to read through them.  It isn't possible to touch on all his points in a short blog post (such as, just because we receive this gift doesn't mean we can continue to live a life of sin).  Such beautiful treasures are found in the Bible, and God wants you to receive them!

Are you relying on doing the right thing, or do you believe that salvation is given as a gift to us through Jesus?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Fridays.

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