I have a friend. He is a thoughtful man who has considered spiritual things. His background is with a church that teaches salvation comes from faith and works together. He says he can’t imagine that salvation is free, that there is not something that we have to do to earn it. The Bible, specifically in the Book of Romans, clearly says otherwise. His church does not consider the Bible the final authority.
I told him, “Here is one way to look at it. What if your only son gave his heart to save my life? Would you bill me for his heart? Would you expect me to make payments for it? No. I think you would agree that your son’s life is a thing of such value that nothing I could ever do could ever compensate you for it.
Or what if you invited me and my whole family over for dinner with linen, candles, silver and all your family favorites. What would you think if at the end of the meal I stood up and got out my wallet and said, “How much do I owe you?” You would be justifiably hurt, confused, and offended.
To think that you can pay for your salvation or repay God for what he freely provided through his sons death tells me two things about you. First, it tells me you don’t realize how sinful you are. Second, it tells me you don’t realize how righteous God is.
Churches themselves are full of people who do not yet realize what a gift salvation is. Because they have never realized the depth of their guilt, they do not appreciate the miracle of God’s grace. P.T. Forsyth said it this way, “Our Churches are full of the nicest, kindest people who have never known the despair of guilt or the breathless wonder of forgiveness.”
Have you known the despair of guilt and the breathless wonder of forgiveness? I wonder if all who claim to be saved have really been delivered from their sin and the horrific penalty of it.
Imagine you are swimming in the ocean and you are suddenly and savagely attacked by a shark. One moment you are enjoying the sun and water, the next you are struggling for life, gasping for air. Panic seizes your heart. You are in a desperate struggle for life. Just when you are going down for the last time a strong unseen hand grasps you and pulls you from danger into the safety of a boat. They deposit you on the warm sand. You are shaken but safe.
You have been saved, delivered. You have been rescued from death. You have survived a shark attack and drowning. It takes you a half hour for your heart rate to settle down again. When it does the sun is brighter, the sea is bluer, the world is full of life.
If you have been saved from eternal torment and separation from God in hell you should be overcome with gratitude. You should know the breathless wonder of God’s grace. If you have been delivered from the violence and finality of death and eternal suffering you ought to glory in it every day. You ought to sing with hands uplifted and a tear-streaked face. You ought to shout. You ought to tell everyone you know.
When you understand that you have been saved from the horror of sin, judgment and death the sun is brighter, the sea is bluer, and your whole world is full of life. Has that happened to you?
Riverfront Character Inn
April 25, 2005