Eternal Security and Grace.
The 1998 Spielberg film “Saving Private Ryan” follows the story of a US Army Captain John Miller – who following the Normandy Landings – is ordered to go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action. He assembles six men from his company and by the end of the film five out of the six have been killed. Miller himself has been mortally wounded and as he lies dying he breathes his last words to Private James Ryan whom he has managed to track down and save.
“James, ” he whispers in a barely audible voice, “….earn this. Earn it.”
The film cuts to a now elderly and emotional Ryan standing in front of Millers grave fifty years later.
“Every day I think of what you said to me that day on the bridge. I’ve tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”
Ryan then turns to his wife and with tears in his eyes he asks her “Tell me I have lived a good life. Tell me I am a good man”
It’s great cinema. Absolutely heart wrenching. However those two words “Earn it” betray Spielberg’s Jewish upbringing. No Christian would ever have thought to introduce the concept of needing to earn or re-pay for a life laid down in sacrifice. The reason? Christ gave his life with no strings attached.
Not in a million lifetimes could we ever begin to repay the life of the Son of God given up for us. His life was given as a love gift, not a payment for good behavior..
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
Jesus Himself spelled it out “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” John 10:18
That is why Paul emphasises to the Ephesian church that salvation is received not earned: Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.…
Once you understand the full extent of God’s grace in freely giving himself for us then you will understand eternal security.
Some people feel you shouldn’t preach grace too much or you will be giving people a free rein to carry on sinning. In other words, they believe the threat of a lost salvation is what produces holiness. If you think this way, you do not understand love. There is no threat in love.
Once you have accepted Christ, holiness is a response, not a pre-requisite to God’s unconditional love:
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
So relax. Enjoy your relationship with God. In the words of the 2014 song by Pat Barrett & Anthony Brown, He is not a tyrant. He is a good, good Father.
I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone.
You’re a good good father.
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are.
And I’m loved by you.
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.
James Muir 13.03.17