As I was thinking about Andrew’s teaching Grace: The Power of the Gospel, I remembered an old legend that I had heard years ago. It goes like this:
There once was a man who invented fire. One day, he found a village in a very cold and remote area. With his tools, he taught the villagers how to make fire. The people were fascinated with this discovery. Now they could use the fire to cook hot meals and heat their homes. They were thankful for the new skill the man taught them. But one day, without much notice, the man left. In his absence, the people made a portrait of him and mounted it in the temple. The instruments he left behind for making fire were placed in front of his portrait, and the people were taught to revere the image of the man and the instruments of fire. As time went on, the worship continued, but the people never made any more fire.
The man in the story had left each person in the village with something better than himself: the ability to make fire. Each person could have used this gift to their advantage, learned new ways to use it, and passed the art of making fire to future generations. But the people forgot the gift they had received and instead fixed their eyes on something that was passing away. They lost sight of the gift and the freedom they had received.
This story gives us a great picture of the Law. Like the people in the story, we tend to forget the purpose of the Law, and without noticing, we start worshiping the image of our salvation instead of the Savior. Andrew explains, “The [L]aw and the prophets testify to the coming of the Righteous One—the Lord Jesus Christ—and righteousness given as a free gift through faith in His name. The [L]aw was only a temporary thing that projected and prophesied the coming of the Eternal One” (p. 28).
The Law was given to bring us out of the deception that we could ever save ourselves. It wasn’t given for us to keep it. It was given to help us accept the fact that we need a Savior. It was pointing to something much better—the Lord Jesus (Rom. 3:21-22).
Just like the villagers, we can get stuck in our traditions, and that can cause us to make the great gift we have received—even the gift of grace—lose its power in our lives. Like Andrew says, “Letting go of our own performance and coming to God by faith can be pretty scary. Accepting salvation as a free gift—apart from any goodness on our own—is contrary to everything we’ve known. . . . It takes a genuine confidence in the Gospel so that we truly let go of our goodness and performance” (p. 44).
When we understand we are justified by grace through faith, without the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:28), we find true freedom and God’s real blessings can start manifesting in our lives. We must cling to the eternal gift of grace and let go of the temporary shadow of the Law. It’s the only way to keep the fire burning.
Have you found yourself putting your trust in an image instead of the Savior? Ask yourself, “Is there any area in my heart where my faith is in my own performance and I’ve lost sight of the Eternal One? Your Heavenly Father is calling you back. Return to grace and enjoy the freedom of your salvation.
Freedom from a performance mentality is one of the many truths Andrew’s teaching on grace covers. If you haven’t ordered it yet, considering getting the Romans Collection Package. It contains Grace: The Power of the Gospel in a paperback book, study guide, and CD or DVD series. The package also includes Andrew’s Life for Today Study Bible and Commentary: Romans Edition. You will overflow with the knowledge of God’s grace, which will change your life!