Daily Good News – The Open, Empty Hand
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Aug 18, 2015 815
In Jesus’ parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15:1–7, the shepherd has 100 sheep. One becomes lost, so he leaves the 99 and goes to find the one. The shepherd doesn’t say to the sheep, “If you partially find your way home, I will do the rest and come to pick you up.” Some people believe this about salvation: that if they put in their part, say 5% righteousness, then Jesus would supply the remaining 95%. Somehow our works are supposed to be the trigger for Christ’s salvation. How deceptive this kind of thinking is! How we rage in fury and impotence at the salvation that Jesus offers us by grace alone!
In Christian terminology, we talk about “coming to Jesus,” and similar expressions. While these expressions do have a basis in the teachings of the Bible (John 6:35–40; Rev 22:17), they can be only understood in terms of our total acceptance of Christ’s total salvation, understanding that it is Christ who has provided a total and perfect atonement at Calvary. To “come to Jesus” is to turn in repentant helplessness to Him alone, for even faith itself is a gift from God (Heb 12:2).
Consider the teachings of Jesus. The lost lamb could not start to find its way home. The man wounded on the road to Jericho could do nothing for himself. The paralysed man by the pool of Bethesda could not take a step towards the water. The lost coin could do nothing to find itself. Although the prodigal son was on his way back to his home, he was still in a lost condition, trying to bargain with his Father in his mind; it is the father who comes running and finds him and covers him with his robe. Although the merchant finds the pearl of great price, it is only when he has sold everything he has; in other words, when there is nothing more that he can do. This list of examples could be very long indeed.
So what are we to do? God is calling everyone to repentance; he is calling everyone home. When we, with the open, empty hand of faith, receive the gift; in that very gift is all that we need for this life and for eternity.