“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

One of the thieves that was crucified next to Jesus was saved in the final moments of his life. He had no time to right his wrongs on earth, but he did open up his heart to receiving the free gift of salvation. Pastor Colin Smith expands on the reality of the Christian faith and God’s grace in our lives.

“Clearly, if a person is in Christ and a person has come to love and trust Christ, what flows from that reality is that we live for Christ. He died that we should no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose for us.”

There’s a very important point at stake as it relates to living the Christian life: we don’t enter into Heaven because we did a good job on living the Christian life.

“I think that’s a point at which many Christians lose their joy, and lose that assurance. It’s easy for us to look to how well we’re doing in the Christian life as if that was ultimately the thing that qualified us for Heaven and it isn’t. We enter by God’s grace and mercy alone.

“What that does is it frees us for the pursuit of a Christian life, not in an attempt to earn the reward of Heaven, but to live with joy, gratitude, freedom and love for Jesus Christ who is the one who has freely given us all things.”

To gain a better understanding of God’s grace for believers, Pastor Colin brings us to Jesus’ brief interaction with the thief on the cross.

“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ (Luke 23:42-43)”

“What that points us to is the wonderful truth for every Christian believer, stated by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8, ‘for us to be away from the body, is to be at home with the Lord.’ An immediate translation for a Christian believer; into the presence of the Lord Jesus. Consciously there, joyfully there, with Him, as the thief was with Him, in the joyful presence of the Lord Himself. No great delay, no long soul sleep or unconsciousness.”

“Every time I conduct a funeral for a Christian believer and there are grieving folks there saying, ‘what about my loved one now?’ This is the most marvelous truth: consciously, joyfully, immediately in the presence of the Lord. That’s the gift of the Lord to all of His children.”

There is nothing we can do to earn our way into Heaven, Jesus already made a way for us on the cross. All we need to do is accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, through faith, and receive the free gift of eternal salvation. 

Colin S. Smith is an evangelical pastor and author. Smith is currently the Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Illinois, where he has been since 1996. The Orchard Evangelical Free Church has three campus locations: Arlington Heights, Barrington, and Itasca.

Saved by grace
Also on this edition of Neil Stavem
Michael Card on A Violent Grace