Watching a video on early church history with my life group, I was struck by one of the biographies of early church leaders. I believe it was John Wesley who was so zealous for God that he had even been to America to mission there. On the return trip home, Wesley was caught in a great storm at sea and found himself falling way short in the faith department as he faced possible death.
I wondered why someone who had enough belief to go out and share God’s word would be so quick to fall from faith (or at least blame himself for falling). Then, the documentary continued to explain the most important next step of Wesley’s faith story. The man who would go on to lay the foundations for the Methodist movement learned the difference between a salvation that is earned and one that is freely given. Wesley learned to embrace grace.
As Paul teaches in many of his letters, our salvation is not earned. We are saved from the damnation we deserve only because Jesus chose to die on the cross for our sins, make us right with God once and for all, and send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and pull us toward the kind of living that reflects the kind of loving life Jesus lived.
When we have asked Jesus to be our Saviour and admitted our need for His offer of salvation, we are saved. Even in the face of our most immediate, physical dangers, we can take comfort in knowing that our souls are safe. We will join Jesus in heaven. We will see God. We will know that eternal place where there is no fear, no pain, no doubt.
When you release the need to earn salvation, you are free to embrace the humanness we all share. You are free to love the way that God intended us to love. You know that you cannot be proud since none of us are good enough because of anything we’ve done. We are only good enough because God made us all equally “good enough” by dying on the cross for us.
What a different experience John Wesley would have had on that scary boat ride if he already understood that his faith was enough to ensure his salvation through grace! He would not have feared his future thinking he had not yet sown enough fruit for God to be saved. Instead, he might have felt that “peace which surpasses understanding,” knowing that whatever happened, it would be God’s will.
None of us know for sure how we will react to life-and-death moments until we have actually experienced them. But all of us can practice living out our faith by doing what Jesus commanded: “‘AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”… (Mark 12:30-31).
When we truly have faith, we act out our faith through our deeds. We actively seek to shine the Light of God. We study His word. We seek relationship with Him in prayer. We seek fellowship with other believers. We do things for even strangers that we would appreciate being done to us.
I’m gonna walk by faith, an’ not by sight
‘Cause I can’t see straight in the broad daylight
I’m gonna walk by faith, an’ not by fear
‘Cause I believe in the one who brought me here
“Walk by Faith,” by Out of the Grey–Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/out-of-the-grey/walk-by-faith-lyrics/#kPBrrx4vIIO2CioE.99