The Only Thing I Contribute
The above quote is from the book Jesus+nothing=everything. It is a deep and sobering thought. As a Christian I acknowledge that my salvation is by faith alone. I can't do anything to be accepted by God, and contribute nothing to the salvation of my soul. He alone can be the substitute for my sin, and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was God's propitiation for my transgressions. I have been forgiven and freed from sins penalty.
The second part of the quote is what is most intriguing, because Christians work so hard to live a life pleasing to God. Can I, however, do anything that will bring about more pleasure of God for me? The answer is no, in Christ I am accepted, I am loved, I am made perfect. There isn't anything more that I can contribute to God's pleasure, it has been accomplished in Christ.
When I fail (sin), I am not loved less or accepted less by God, any more than if I do well I can bring about a greater amount of God's pleasure, because my acceptance isn't in my ability, even after salvation. Living in sin does affect my relationship with God, but not my acceptance. Living in sin creates a barrier in my relationship, and hinders my prayers, and will even bring about discipline by God. Yet, even in this, I can do nothing to bring about God's acceptance and love, it is mine in Christ. John says in his Epistle, "If you confess your sin, God is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness." Repentance isn't a work, it is an acknowledgement that I am helpless and need God's work in Christ.
God is at work in me to will and to want to do his will. The life of Christ is lived out when we depend on the Holy Spirit to do His sanctifying work in our lives. There are two types of legalism. The first says I have to be perfect before God will accept me. The second is as insidious. It says, God has saved me, but I need to be perfect for him to be pleased with me. Both are founded in our ability and not God's.
We are to work out our salvation, to imitate God, produce fruit, love others, put off the old life, and live holy and worthy lives. The ability to live godly lives is grounded in the finished work of Christ. I work out my salvation because God is working in me. I produce fruit because I am connected to the vine. I know how to love because God first loved me. I can put off the old self because a new life is rooted in Jesus. I live a holy life because Christ in me is holy. I am worthy because Jesus is worthy, and I belong to Him.
The daily Christian life is lived in the reality of who we are in Christ. Anything else will lead us astray. What happened yesterday is meaningless in light of what God has for me today, in Him. I am Free, I am Free, I am Free at last -- IN CHRIST! I'm Just saying...