So, we all sin, and this brings us to a debt we can't possibly pay back. Our sin brings us condemnation, but not because God enjoys sending people to Hell, but rather because He is perfectly just and righteous. Our sin is our own fault, ergo if we choose sin (i.e. we choose to go against God) then we choose our own condemnation.
That's a sad state in which we find ourselves, but we're fortunate that God is also loving. One aspect of God's love is His grace, which is "God's goodness manifested toward the ill deserving" . God loves us so much, and despite our sin, that He offers us a way out of the condemnation we've chosen: His Son could pay our debt, and satisfy God's justice.
This atoning work of Christ is an act of grace available to the world. But not all who are offered this gift accept it. Which brings up the next important point.
When, at Christmas, someone offers you a gift, it's not something they "have" to do. They offer it because they love you, and want to do something nice for you (usually.) Such is grace from God. However, as with the Christmas gift, if you don't accept the gift, it does you no good. Accepting God's grace comes through faith. We don't accept grace by doing good things - as we've seen before in this series, we can never do enough good things to earn God's favor or cancel out our sin. We accept God's grace through faith. We reject God's grace by rejecting faith. And to those who reject God's grace, like those who reject the Christmas present, do not ever receive the gift and have no claim on it; they are still considered condemned by their own choosing.
Perhaps the most famous of all Bible verses says this very thing. John 3:16-17 says, "16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Grace is offered to us though we don't deserve it. That is truly an "sweet sound" to a sinner like me. I can't save myself, but the One who can loves me enough to do so. Truly, truly amazing.
God does not want us to die condemned, but doing so is our choice. Salvation is offered to those who believe, and accept the grace offered by God. So, what is this faith by which we accept grace, and how do we exercise faith? That's the next post.