Getting Out of Purgatory
October 27, 2020
“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” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV 1984).
My wife is a wonderful witness for Christ through acts of love and conversation. I organize things for Jesus, and she makes them beautiful. Last night she was willing to go with me to dinner with a colleague whose life has been torn apart by decadence. This friend claims a Christian faith and described a vision he had experienced when he was near death from a recent ethanol overdose. He said he was in a boiler room and could see children playing through a portal above. He saw evil men, some of whom he knew personally, roaming around, through the portal below. He told us, “A man came to me and said that this was my purgatory. I couldn’t stay and must return to prove I could live a more Christian life.” He paused, “And I have tried to do that.” I asked him, “Do you think you’ll graduate from purgatory some day?” He answered, “I have done some very bad things in my life, but I think I have done more good than bad.” My wife laid the truth before him, “It’s all grace, Jamie. I don’t care what you’ve done, good or bad, Jesus covered it all.”
Many of us do many good things. Many of us do good things that cost time and money, good things that may even put us at risk. God smiles when we are doing such for His glory, but nothing I have done is good enough to save the sinner I am.
Thank God that He sometimes allows me to see the depth of my sin so I can realize the depth of His love. The only reason I can know Him as Father and Friend is the forgiveness He offers apart from any good thing I’ve done to deserve it. It’s all grace. Even the good things I accomplish in my life flow from that grace through the power of His Spirit.
I have done good things in my life, and I have done bad things as well. All of us do bad things. It comes naturally. We are sinners. My life is not as broken as my friend’s, but it could be if I were left on my own. There is nothing my friend has done that I could not do, given the right pressures and my sin nature. And there is nothing my friend has done, and there is nothing I might ever do that is not covered by the love of God through His grace and the cross.
I look at my friend, and I look at my life and realize it is all grace. My part in this life is the action that grows from that grace. God’s grace should lead me to:
- Surrender and obedience born from gratitude
- Personal grace toward those I think are undeserving
- A testimony of His grace so that others may know Him
Am I following where grace leads?
Let Your grace live in me.