Questions 89 & 90

When we come to God, he shows us both grace and mercy.* The two words are alike in some ways. But they are not quite the same. When we speak of God’s mercy, we are saying that God holds back the punishment that we deserve. God cancels the punishment for our sins.* He did this when he made Jesus a sacrifice* for our sin and when Jesus died in our place.[1]

 

When we speak of God’s grace, we are saying that God gives us blessings that we do not deserve. He forgives our sin.[2] He gives us the Holy Spirit.* He blesses* us with every blessing in Christ.[3]

 

But can we lose these gifts that God has given us? Will God ever take them away from us?

 

There may be many reasons that we put our hope* in Jesus. But one of those reasons was that we trusted that God could and would keep his promises to us. When he said he would give us eternal* life, we believed that he would do that. When he said that we would never perish, we believed him. When he said that we would not face God’s anger and judgement,* we believed that he was telling us the truth.[4] We believed that God could be trusted to keep his promises. When we submit* ourselves to his care, we believed that he could protect what we put in his care.[5]

 

God chose to adopt* us and welcome us into his family. He promises us that, as his children, we will receive all that he has waiting for us.

 

In the days of Jesus, a Roman* father could say to a son born in his family that he was not part of the family any longer. He would not receive all that belonged to the father when the father died. But a Roman father could not do this to a son that he had adopted. Roman law would not allow this. The adopted son would be certain to receive all that belonged to his new father.

 

The people who read Paul’s* letter knew this. Paul told them, that when they believe, God adopts them into his family. And that it meant they could never lose their place in the family.

 

God loves his children. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.[6]When we heard the good news about Jesus and believed, God gave us eternal life. We put ourselves in his care. Because Jesus is the son of God, no one can take us away from him. And because Jesus and his Father are one, no one can steal us away from God’s care.[7]

 

When we trust Jesus, we become God’s own sons and daughters. And he brings us into his family for a purpose. His purpose for us is that we become just like his son, Jesus.[8] He wants us to be like Jesus in our heart* and in our behavior. That is the work that the Holy Spirit does in us. He breaks the power of sin in us. He gives us a new heart and a new desire to be holy*.[9] God keeps those who have put their faith* in Jesus for ever. He does this because of his grace. And He is able to do this by his own power.

 

It is God who saves us. We do not and cannot save ourselves. God began his work in us when he opened our eyes to see the truth of the gospel.* By his Holy Spirit, he worked in us a desire to know Jesus. The Holy Spirit prepared our hearts to be open to the good news about Jesus. He helped us to see that the gospel was true. And we believed that Jesus is the one who could save us. Then we called on him as Lord.* That is the good work that God began in us.

 

But this was only the beginning of God’s work in us. When we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. He is present in us and always with us. The Holy Spirit in us is a sign that we belong to God. And the Holy Spirit is God’s promise to us that we will receive everything that God has for us.[10] God’s Spirit* will be with us until God finishes his work in us.

 

Still, we must continue to believe until we go to be with God. But the Holy Spirit is the promise that we will continue to believe.

 

In Paul’s letter to the church* at Philippi*, he says, ‘God is the one who began his good work in you. And I am sure that he will keep on working in you until the day Jesus comes again’.[11] It is God who saves us from the beginning to the end.


[1] 2 Corinthians 5:21; Titus 3:5
[2] Hebrews 8:12; Ephesians 1:7
[3] Ephesians 1:4-19
[4] John 3:16-18; John 5:24
[5] 2 Timothy 1:12
[6] Romans 8:38-39
[7] John 10:27-30
[8] Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 1:3-13
[9] John 8:34-36; Romans 8:21; Titus 3:3-7; John 3:9
[10] Ephesians 1:13-14
[11] Philippians 1:6