“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” – Timothy Keller
The author of Hebrews is very specific in why he wrote this book. He understood that we are more sinful than we ever dared believe, “yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope” as pastor Timothy Keller says. So he wrote the book of the Hebrews to help Jewish believers. He wanted them to remember this truth. He wanted them to know deep down that they are saved by grace and not works. They could never earn their salvation. They could only receive it. He didn’t want the saved Hebrews to backslide into legalism. He wasn’t worried about them backsliding into paganism, he worried about salvation by works.
I have been a pastor for over thirty years. During my time, I have seen so many people slipping into the behavior of self-effort. They want to help, they want to serve, they want to show the world they love Jesus. So they work. They do all they can to show they believe. And at the bottom of what they do is the drive to earn their way into God’s good graces.
This shouldn’t surprise us. We live in a society that rewards only hard work. If you want to get ahead, work hard. You want to make it in this world, work hard. You want to be respected, get busy, work hard. The “formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil,” said billionaire J. Paul Getty. This philosophy has bled into the church. This dominates so much of the way we live our Christian life. Paul warned us about this:
You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.
Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! (Galatians 3:1-4; The Message)
We aren’t strong enough to earn our own salvation, it’s a gift. So why do we try to live in our own strength? This is the greatest struggle for all Christians. We at a core level want to earn our way to salvation so we can be god. But salvation in the kingdom comes by grace. It comes by Jesus.
A sign that we are not living in the grace of Christ is most plainly seen in the lack of power we display in our lives. Whenever the church and Christians backslides from grace, we replace things like miracles, signs and wonders with legalism. Tradition and law become the focus. Obedience becomes the way to achieve the highest rank in the church world. But we have, and should believe in, a supernatural God.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
These nine gifts are for the believers today and are to used today. When we pray in the morning, we should be thanking the Holy Spirit for the gifts and the fruit of the spirit. But most in the church are not operating in the supernatural because we have lost our way. We must return to salvation equals grace plus nothing. We must not misrepresent the kingdom of God any longer. The believer that does not experience and deliver signs, wonders and miracles is by their life communicating and inferior gospel to the world.