Read 1 Timothy 1:15-17
15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. (NLT)
The author Philip Yancey, writing of his friend Brennan Manning, said that his life was a life of failure punctuated by grace. A failed marriage and an ongoing struggle with alcoholism and related health issues rendered Manning’s life deeply dysfunctional. At least at one level.
And yet, he witnessed repeatedly to the reality of grace. After all, if we never failed we would never need grace. That was also true of John Bunyan who wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress. The lesson from that book seems to be that the progress of that or any pilgrim was not as a result of making right decisions but as a result of learning from making the wrong ones. That pilgrim was in constant trouble and needed constant rescuing. And so the profound gratitude for the grace of God.
We generally agree that we are put right with God by virtue of his mercy and not our own good works. But we may too easily forget that once we are right with God we still depend on his grace for our everyday pilgrimage. Grace is not only necessary for coming to God; it is necessary for sticking with him. That is because conversion is not just a one-off event but an everyday process.