Our acceptance and forgiveness by God is totally free to us – there is no kind of price tag attached to it. We were so broken, such a mess and so unworthy of his mercy and his gifts in ourselves that the only way it could possibly be was for it all to be free – a gift of pure love, free for nothing.
This not only applies to forgiveness, it applies to every gift God gives us. Every healing, every answer to every prayer, every single gift from God is given to us completely freely, and received as another gift of God’s lavish grace. And God never runs out – we don’t need to worry about asking him for things, because God is very rich (he owns everything), and he loves to give “good gifts” to his children (Matthew 7:11).
Paul asked the Galatian church a question with an obvious answer: “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” The only condition for God giving us his Spirit and for doing miracles and giving us gifts is for us to believe what we heard (the gospel) – in other words, for us to be Christians.
The requirement for God to show his power through us is not getting more holy, or getting our doctrines right or any other kind of formula – all his gifts just come for free. There is really no other way it could be, because, “Who has ever given to God that God should repay him?” (Romans 11:35). We can’t do anything to make God do anything. He offers it, and we receive it from him as a gift, and that’s all there is to it.
There have certainly been times in history when God has put it on people’s hearts to pray and fast and do other things before he poured out his Spirit in a major way. This is because God loves to get us involved in the things he is doing – he doesn’t like to work alone. But none of those things ever “twisted God’s arm”. His power and his gifts are always only ever ours as a free gift of his love and grace, and they are freely available to anyone who asks him.
The vineyard song “Generous man” contains these lines:
“They’re not worthy, they can’t pay
But still he opens his hands ...”
Jesus is the same in heaven now as he was when he walked on earth – generous, giving and full of love and compassion. Whatever he would be willing to do if you could meet him in the flesh, he is as willing to do right now:
“A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make
me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am
willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’” (Mark 1:40-41)
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