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October 17, 2013
By Pastor Bill Pritchett
Southside Baptist Church, Andalusia
On Aug. 2, 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was shot dead while playing poker in Deadwood, in the Black Hills, Dakota Territory. He was holding a pair of aces and eights, which came to be known as a dead man’s hand. Hickok’s hand is symbolic of the life that a person lives when they live life separated from God. Paul writes, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
The idea of deadness suggests a person is living apart from the source of life and is helpless to do anything about it within himself. However, the human plight serves only to amplify in magnitude both the power and mercy a person can experience by the grace of God.
God is so rich in mercy that He willingly offers His grace to the sinner. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift” (Eph. 2:8).
A gift can be a real surprise and such a gift from God can catch a person off guard. Why would God offer you such a gift? Wait. There must be strings attached. No, salvation is rooted in the unwarranted, unconditional love of God. Since a person dead to God can do nothing to help himself, grace is his only hope. Grace enters into your situation of sin and death as a force that will yield a harvest of a new life filled with good works.
While such an amazing gift is offered to you, God’s grace is never imposed upon you; rather it must be received by faith.
What is faith, you ask? Faith is trust, an openness of mind, heart and life to God to receive all He has to give and to surrender that which He demands. You can trust God because God approached you first, laying this amazing hand on the table before you; not a dead man’s hand, but an offer of eternal life through repentance and faith in His Only Son — Jesus Christ. A gift is not really a gift until it is received, opened and put to use.
Today why not receive God’s gift of salvation by turning to God and putting your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ?