It seems that’s how we preachers and Christians often think, talk, and feel about God’s grace in salvation.
We sometimes seem to be saying to sinners, “You see, God has made it easy for you. Just believe.”
Or, “It’s not what you do. Christ has done it for you. Just repent and accept Christ.”
Fair enough. True enough. But that’s not all. And when that sentiment sounds easy to us, we’re left befuddled and bedraggled by the many hard places and thorny challenges of following Jesus. When it gets hard, we ask, “What’s happening?” And what we’re really saying is “I thought grace made this Christian thing easy.”
We can intimate that salvation through Christ is easy. But it’s not. It was neither easily purchased for us, nor is it easily obtained, nor is it easily kept.
The Purchase. Christ purchased our salvation with His own blood. The agony of Gethsemane was eclipsed by great groanings of Golgotha. The pleadings in the garden gave way to the great cries of the cross. Our salvation comes at infinite cost to the Son of God. He suffered holy wrath against the sins of the entire world. It was not easily purchased.
Obtaining. Nor is it easily obtained. Does not the Lord himself say straight and narrow is the way and there are few who find it? Camels go through the eye of a needle more easily than rich men enter the kingdom of God. There is taking up the cross and dying with Christ. All this happens by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but it is not easily obtained. It is costly to follow Jesus.
Maintaining. Nor is it easily maintained. All those who would live godly lives shall suffer persecution. They hated Jesus and they hate those who follow. People will think they’ve done a good thing when they have slain the Lord’s servants. The flesh will war against the Spirit. Sin will deceive and tempt. The enemy sets snares. The world sings its siren song. Many will not love the truth and will turn back.
Only those who overcome, who persevere in faith until the end, will receive the Reward. We are kept by God’s power through faith. Our inheritance is preserved for us in heaven. But, forgive me, this is not easy. This is not achieved while rolling over again and again on our beds, while drinking in the poisons of sinful entertainments, or giving ourselves to unrighteousness. The one we serve is our master–whether mammon, sin, or Christ. We serve Christ by His grace through faith and in the power of His indwelling Spirit. He is our holiness with which we will see God. But persevering until the end is not easy.
We were never told it would be easy. Much to the contrary. We take the kingdom by force. We wage war in the power of Christ. We put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. We gouge out and cut off. We deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow daily. We do not shrink back from death and persecution and starvation and the enemy’s assaults. We stand. And doing all, we stand.
And as we do, in Christ, we are more than conquerors. For He is our Captain, a Shield, our Defender, our Advocate, and our Victory. We are assured of all that God promises us in Christ. It is by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. But it is not easy. Press on toward the high calling; discipline your body; persevere until the end; run to win the crown. You won’t lose in Christ, even if it’s not easy.