I found this last month or so a good time to take a break while school was in full swing. I had much to write about during Lent, but I think I will save those topics to be refreshed now that it is over. And for those of you who don’t know, Lent is the time or preparation before Good Friday and Easter. Thus, we are brought to today – Good Friday. I have so many emotions rising up within me because of today and the greater day that comes on Sunday. On one hand, I am joyful. For today is the day we celebrate our salvation, and the full payment of our sins. Today is the day when we were healed, forgiven, and redeemed.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5 ~
Today is the day we remember our LORD and Savior dying for us. And that is when I become ashamed, realizing how much I did that brought the need for this sacrifice. This time also reminds me in a deeper way of how much I still need a Savior.
I have been a christian for many years now. And if there is one thing I learned it is that I am a poor, miserable sinner who is in desperate need for God. And though I fail Him daily, He has never failed me. He still teaches me, supports me, and loves me on no account of my own, but instead because he paid my account and loves me freely.
Sometimes, though, the thought of love coming freely is hard for me to grasp. Love in earthly relationships do not always come so freely. In many of mine, I had to give something in order to receive what I perceived as love. I can tell you honestly, and as I am sure some of you already know, that is not love. Love is a gift and, if not freely given, is not love but selfishness. What good is love if we must work for it? In the same way, what is Christ’s salvation if we had to do something to achieve it? We are sinful and fallible, and I am eternally grateful that I was not left on my own to save myself from my sin. I am also thankful that I did not have to rely on another human being. Like any debtor, I would be over my head and never capable of paying off my daily accumulation of debt. Thankfully, Christ took care of this.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. ~Galatians 3:13 ~
We do not do anything for God, God does everything for us. Without faith, we cannot please God. Anything done outside of faith is sin. We can do as many works as we want outside of faith. Many people claim that they are “good enough” because of all the “good things” they do. But, they will not save us and, even if they are “good”, they do nothing for us nor are pleasing to God.
If we did all the work, why should we bother to go to God? We could be like God and save ourselves. Yet with the sacrifice of Christ, and faith-based works, we realize there is nothing we can do to save ourselves nor earn a place next to God. Indeed, if we work and say, “By this I will earn my salvation”, we admit that we do not understand God’s gift nor how we are to please Him.
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. ~ Romans 9:30-32 ~
Why did God make it so that only He could be the way of salvation? Well, do you honestly think that anything or anyone could pay that price? Could you? No. In fact, God first demonstrated that when He made a contract with Abraham. This contract was between God, Abraham, and all of Abraham’s descendants. If anyone broke that contract, they would have to pay back God. The contract was made by the participants walking through the sacrifice of animals cut in half. The contract thus stated that if someone broke it, they too would be slaughtered like these animals. But here is the great part, God did not let Abraham pass through the sacrifice. Do you know why? Because if he had broken that contract, he, Abraham, would have to be the one to repay that. Instead, God took the blame Himself. Abraham, his children , and even us screwed up. And God took all of that upon Himself. All the blame, shame, and punishment. And we get the free gift of love. This is what grace is.
And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
~ Romans 11:16 ~
Now, salvation is free to recieve and no works can be, should be, or must be done to achieve that. It cannot be achieved, only received. That being said, we are to follow the rules after that. It is a “showing ” of our faith, but to God only. Saying, “God I love you and I will live my life as a reflection of that. I will not steal, or lie, or commit adultery, or blaspheme your Name because I love you. And I will serve others so that they may see You.” This is not for ourselves, but for God and others. This is a work based on faith and love, not on self or bargaining. True, you can do all these things simply because you like to think yourself as a decent person, but it does nothing beyond making you feel good. For you are not the way of salvation. Even more so, it is pointless to do anything out of the “goodness of your heart” because without accountability and love and reason for God, there is no point to being “good”. In fact, naturalism tells you to do the opposite. In the same way, you can play a bargaining game with God and say,”If I do this, You need to do this for me God.” But such ideas are wrong. God will take care of you, and if you ask for something in faith, God will provide what you need. And regardless, He always listens and always answers and always provides. Why bargain and barter for God’s love when it is a free gift?
In fact, God gave us the law just so we could see how far we fall short.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. ~Romans 3:20 ~
Thus, He sent his son because he knew we could not work our way to righteousness. Instead, Christ did that single act of sacrifice and our debt was paid. He closed the gap between our hopes, eternal life, and God’s endless love.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Ephesians 2:8-9 ~
The Bible says that if you’ve broken one law, you’ve broken them all (James 2:10). If we just took the Ten Commandments into consideration, I can tell you honestly I have broken most of them on more than one occasion. But I will also tell you that when I broke the first one, I broke them all. In general, I am considered a very nice person by most people, perhaps to being a goody two shoes. I am loving, kind, helpful, and honest. But I have a hard time with forgiveness. I covet things. I am jealous. I have lied. I have gossiped what I hadn’t proven, and just shouldn’t have spread. And for these things and more, I am just as guilty as a murderer, a thief, a liar, and an adulterer. Why? Because I am a law-breaker. I am not good, I am sinful. But, I am also saved. I did not earn this because I kept most of the commandments most of the time. I broke them most of the time, and I am sorry for it. Even now I am better at keeping the laws of God, and I still fall short. But I am redeemed, bought back and freed from the condemnation that comes as a result of my sin. So please, don’t think you are high and mighty because you do so much considerable good. And I beg you, do not think you are so awful that you are beyond redemption. If you’ve done one thing wrong, as we all have, you are not beyond love. We are all on the same playing field with God. No one is no better nor is no one worse. And we all have the option of admittance of our guilt and freedom that Christ offers.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. ~ Titus 2:11~
This is what makes this faith different from any other. There are many faiths out there. To name a few, there is naturalism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and so on. Whatever faith is out there. Or even take into account materialism, socialism, communism, and capitalism. These are all things in which people put their trust and faith into. But with each one, you have to do something to get to the next level. It may be to be peaceful, to earn the most, to be the fittest, to be at one with nature, to sacrifice on the right days, to kill a said number of people, and so on. With each action, you get better and thus earn your own salvation. But I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the question, “How do I know if I’ve done enough?” With fear in someone’s voice. Tell me, how do you know? Will you die with the most toys and the most money? Do you have a higher seat int he next life because you were the most peaceful? Or take it the other way, because you killed the most and then will end your own life? How does it feel to be in total uncertainty of your life and the one to come because it relies on you? With my whole being, the very thought of that terrifies me. To rely on myself to gain salvation is an insurmountable task and a risk of uncountable odds of whether or not I was good enough on my own.
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:9 ~
Thankfully, we can’t save ourselves. Graciously, we did not have to. For then God said throughout His Word, “I will save you, even though you don’t deserve it, because I love you.” No other belief is like that, no other love can compare to that.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
~ 2 Corinthians 9:15 ~
Honestly, I think this is a hard reality for an individualistic and proud people to accept. Unless it is a material handout. But salvation? We shun it. I live in the United states, but I know even outside of this country it is hard to understand that we have to and can do nothing to gain something. Perhaps it is because of pride and wishing to make a name for ourselves. The ability to boast is a tempting one. Perhaps it is because deep down we know we will be held accountable for our actions. Responsibility is rough, and admitting guilt is not at the top of anyone’s list. But perhaps for most, including myself for a long time, are afraid that they do not deserve what God has to offer. They are afraid of rejection and shame. Truly, they do not know what real love is. Let me break it to you – none of the above deserve it. “For all have fallen short of the glory of God.” Sin is missing the mark and thus brings on us shame and guilt. But that is what makes God’s love so perfect! For He is love and he casts out fear. Because of His great sacrifice, we do not have to fear rejection, shame, or fear itself because that is why Jesus came. To accept us, forgive us, renew us, clear our guilt, and love us.
But 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. ~ Ephesians 2:4-5 ~
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:1-2 ~
I will leave with this and ask that you who read this remember that God did all this not just before you were born, but with full knowledge that you would sin. And I say you, but I mean us all. This plan of salvation was set from the very beginning when God told Eve and the serpent that her offspring will crush the serpent’s head, and the serpent will strike His heel. This offspring is Christ who has crushed Satan. And like I said, this was all planned out from the beginning. People may ask why does God allow bad things to happen, but I ask why did He allow His son to die for us bad people? The answer is simple: He loves us. And while we were still dead in our sins, Christ died for us out of His great love.
May your Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and days ahead be filled with joy and love,