The Rest of the Story

This Sunday Christians will celebrate an event we believe is even more important than the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We will celebrate His resurrection from the dead. We believe that because He rose from the dead, we can also have the hope of life eternal in heaven with Him. But just how does that work? It seems like that would be an important thing to understand.

The Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” For anyone who wants to have the hope of going to heaven when they die, these words are extremely important. Why? Because in them we are given the true answer to the question that anyone who cares about what happens after their life on earth is done, needs to know.

The question, “How do I get to heaven?” Or in other words, “How can I be saved?”

No matter how you say it, it’s the answer to THAT question that is the most important. And, no matter what someone thinks or hears, there is only ONE answer that can be trusted. It is the answer found in God’s Word, the Bible. It’s the answer given in those 11 words above. They come from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Here’s the whole passage: “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” (Eph. 2:8-9). Out of the whole Bible, these words are some of the most important ones you will ever read. Why do I say that?

Let me expand on the Easter story to hopefully explain why. We all know Christians celebrate Easter because it is the day we believe Jesus rose from the dead after He died on the cross. That death was in payment for all of your sins and mine. He paid the price by giving His life in exchange for ours to remove our sin which separates us from God. That separation happened back in the Garden when Adam & Eve first sinned, and it was passed down to every person since. Including you and me.

God’s Word says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That’s a big problem for everyone. So just how can our sin problem be remedied? The Bible says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus went to the cross and shed His blood so our sin could be forgiven. He sacrificed His life for US. He died in our place and took God’s judgment that should have been poured out on us, for every sin we commit, past, present and future.

When Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished!” God was telling us that our debt was PAID IN FULL! That’s what the term means. It was God’s way of saying, “I’m going to show you how much I love you. I will pay your debt and take the punishment for you, and I’m going to make it possible for you to receive something you could never deserve: The gracious gift of eternal life.” The Judge paid our fine. Jesus’ death was the gift of God’s GRACE to us. That is why the verse says it is by “grace” that we are saved. And the “faith” part is BELIEVING what God DID for us. It’s believing that HE is the ONLY one who could even do that for all of us. Can you see how the two are connected?

Someone can say they have “faith” in whatever they think will save them or give them eternal life, and you would probably get a different answer from anyone you ask. But the truth is, there is only ONE person in the universe that paid that price for us. Jesus of Nazareth. Many people say that they have faith in God or a Supreme Being. That’s good. But go back to Ephesians 2:8. Paul did NOT say, “For it is by FAITH you have been saved, through faith.” He says we are saved by GRACE. The grace of God that comes through Jesus.  “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

If you look up the definition of grace, you will see it means: Unmerited favor. Unmerited. To put it simply, God’s forgiveness, and the gift of eternal life He offers to everyone, cannot be earned by anything we do because He has already done it all. If we COULD do something to “deserve” God’s gift of salvation, it would not be a gift and we would have reason to boast about what WE did.

So this has nothing to do with being “religious”, as people think. It’s about believing what the facts are. God accomplished something for us that we could never do, for it would require us to be perfect and that is impossible. It’s not about us being perfect or good enough, it’s about trusting the One who is. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:21). That is the truth. Again, He made it possible for us to be made right with God by paying the price for us. Jesus exchanged His perfection for our sinfulness. It was our sin that was nailed to the cross. And in return, Jesus offers to share His resurrected life to all who will accept what He did for us, by faith.

That is the ONLY way our salvation could have been possible, and THAT is amazing grace. But that is also the part most people don’t like to hear. People argue there must be other ways to be saved. However, God has made it clear: There is NO Plan B. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Those are not my words, they are His, and they are either true or they’re not. And if they are not, we have no reason to celebrate Easter.

We celebrate Easter because Jesus rose from the dead as God’s receipt proving His payment was sufficient. For almost 2,000 years, believers have borne testimony to that truth. And still today, He offers His grace gift of eternal life to all who will believe what He did for us and why He had to do it. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17-18). He is our only hope. 

I pray that everyone I know has received God’s gift of Grace: Believing and accepting the truth of what Jesus has done for us and letting Him know how precious He is by living every day with our hearts filled with love and thankfulness for His gracious gift of a new life with Him. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). That’s the most wonderful and greatest gift anyone can receive. It’s the start of the rest of the story…and just the beginning of living forever with Him.

I hope this will be the Happiest Easter you’ve ever had! May God bless you!