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.
We once drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel that connects Virginia with the southern tip of the Delmarva peninsula. Sorry to be so geeky, but it was just so cool to drive the series of bridges, islands, and tunnels to cross 18 miles of open water.
I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. You’re wondering how much it costs to drive it. That’s a tricky question because it depends. It depends on the time of day, how long it’s been since your last crossing, and a few other things. Check out their toll schedule if you’re really interested.
But no matter how much it costs; the toll is always paid upfront. There are tollbooth's on both sides that collect the entire amount. There’s no stopping midway to pay another toll. Once the toll is paid, that’s it. There are no more tolls. It’s paid 100% before you start your journey across.
It’s not like most toll roads where you pay a little bit and then drive some. After a while you stop and pay some more. Then there’s the next toll. And the next.
God’s idea about our relationship with him is a whole lot like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It’s paid once and for all. It’s paid up-front. Once paid, it’s done. No need to pull out more money or reload your EZ-Pass account. No need to worry about whether someone’s going to jump out and demand something more.
When Jesus died on the cross, a one-time eternal payment was made. And this payment was made for anyone who would believe.
that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
This payment, this salvation was accomplished and completed in the past, on the cross. And that payment, that salvation is still in effect.
This salvation, this payment is a gift from God. It has nothing to do with us. We have no part in it. He did all the work. He did all the paying. He did all the giving.
There are no strings attached to it either. God doesn’t dangle it in front of us like some kind of bait, trying to attract us. He’s not putting it out there to hook us and reel us in. And it’s not like a BOGO sale that’s just trying to get your attention, getting you into the store with the hope that you’ll buy something else. It’s a completely free gift.
And why? So that there wasn’t anything that we could say. There’s no room for any spiritual swagger in front of God or people. It’s like the old hymn.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.
Our part, our response, is to humbly accept his gift, which requires that we swallow our pride and self-sufficiency. He does the dying. He does the paying. He does the washing. He does the clothing. He does the saving. He does the adopting.
And because he does all these things for us, what should our response be? Not to proudly prance around because he’s saved us. Not to puff out our chest or pop our jersey.
No, the more we understand about his saving us, the more we want to throw ourselves down and worship him. The more we want to serve him. The more we want to serve others. The more we want to tell others. It takes us out of the shell we’ve built around ourselves and opens us up to new possibilities. New energies. New ideas. New adventures.
I don’t know about you, but I’m normally very suspicious about something that’s free. I’m always looking for the catch. For the hidden thing that’s going to cost me something. This is true in the world of people, but not when it comes to God.
Being saved is like nothing else in all the world. It changes everything. But do we want everything to change? Are we ready to move beyond the walls of where we are? We might say that we want things to change, but are we really ready to let God move us?
That question can either help you or haunt you. It’s been prepaid. Now what’s your response?
How do you try to earn and pay back God for all he’s done?
What’s God’s motive for dying for us, paying our debt?
How can we move towards a daily, more grateful response to God’s grace?