Have you ever noticed what happens when airlines lower their fares? First one airline declares a price war, and by the end of the day, everybody is having a sale. It's great!
People who were not going to fly anywhere are suddenly booking tickets. Hank, who never flies, is now flying to see his cousin because he can't pass up the deal. Dave and his wife are traveling to California to see their granddaughter, whom they thought they wouldn't see for a long time. People gobble up these lowered fares in a couple of days, and the phones practically melt down at the airlines. Why? Because the discounts bring something within reach that we could otherwise never afford, and we act on it.
Ephesians 2:4-5 of the Bible says, "Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." Verse eight goes on to say, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
God is saying that you have been saved by grace, which can be defined as undeserved love. It is by God's amazing and undeserved love that you are saved. This passage is talking about your need to have your sins forgiven so you can have a relationship with God and go to heaven instead of hell.
This is good news and bad news. The bad news is there is no way you can afford forgiveness and eternal life. This passage says you are dead spiritually, and there is nothing a dead person can do to affect his or her situation. Discount fares may bring airline prices within reach, but in the case of your spiritual salvation, you can never pay the price. Your only hope is if God does something to bring heaven within your reach.
All of this might be a shock to you if you are a religious person. Maybe you've been a believer, you've done a lot of good, you've been through everything your religion asks of you, you have the approval of religious people, and you've paid a lot for a fare to heaven. Well, it won't get you there. Scripture says it is "Not by works." Admitting that you cannot pay your own way to heaven is one of your biggest obstacles to overcome, but it can and must be done.
Jesus holds out the gift He bought with His life. He has brought it within your reach - a relationship with God you could never afford. Now it is time for you to reach out and take it. When something you cannot afford is brought within your reach, it is time for action.