– Alan Redpath
We know that eternal life is a gift of God (Rom. 3:23) and that nothing we could ever do could possibly earn it (Eph. 2:8-9). Like the old hymn says, nothing in my hands I bring, only to the cross I cling, and that’s why the gospel is good news. If it required something of us, we’d all be hopelessly lost. We could never earn our salvation, for even our best efforts are like filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). Every other religion in the world is do this or do that and hope for the best. In Christianity, it’s not about what we do but about what Christ has done, so we can offer nothing but two empty hands, but the point is they have to be empty hands in order to receive what God gives through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ.
If you use your two empty hands to pick up a Bible, you can receive of the Lord because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Many people say they want to increase or grow their faith but ignore the greatest source of faith, and that is the Bible. By failing to read the Word, they are failing to receive faith because the more we read, the greater our faith is since we can read just how faithful God has been in the past (Heb. 11), and since we know that God does not change and is the same yesterday as He is today (Heb. 13:8), we can know that He rewards those who are diligently seeking Him (Heb. 11:6).
We also know that God cannot give grace to someone who hasn’t first humbled themselves since God is opposed to the proud and will give His grace only to the humble of spirit (James 4:6). God “is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18) and is “also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15b). Also, God has said, “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word” (Isaiah 66:2b). Taken together, God is far from those who are proud and those who do not tremble at His Word. If we humble ourselves before God and submit to Him, He will exalt us someday (1 Pet. 5:6), but if we exalt ourselves, He will have to humble us, and that is not much fun.
It is so true that faith is two empty hands held open to receive all of the Lord, and if we hear the Word of God, humble ourselves before God, and understand that our hands bring nothing, then He will receive us if we have repented and trusted in Christ.