Salvation doesn’t hinge on our sinlessness. If we give God the credit of omniscience, if we truly believe he knows us better than we know ourselves, then we must submit that he was aware of all the sins we would ever commit. Can salvation really come to someone with my past or my present?
A pivotal moment of my spiritual journey, perhaps the last leg of my conversion process, came when I was a twelve year old at a week long church camp in Clay City, Indiana. One night, the speaker ended his message, which I had only paid attention to slightly because, again, I was twelve, with depiction of Jesus’ broken, bruised, and bloodied body hanging on the cross.
At that moment, the speaker passionately spoke, Jesus was thinking of me.
Jesus knew all the sins I would ever commit and still chose to die for me anyway because he loved me so deeply.
For the first time in my young life I viewed myself as one in need of forgiveness. Often when we’re young we see ourselves as ‘just a kid,’ intensely innocent, and our misbehaving are either a joke or not serious enough to warrant an apology. At camp, I saw my sins murder a man 2,000 years ago. I saw my sins with a whole new gravity. While walking through an unkempt softball outfield toward my cabin, I fell to my knees, praying for forgiveness, praying for a new self that was marked by faithfulness to Jesus. I was “saved” that night, in a dry, June summer, on my knees in a softball field.
And from that moment on, my salvation has been secure.
But I haven’t been sinless since then.
I sin, I pray for forgiveness, and I try to eradicate that sin from my life. My sinning in no way broke my salvation. Our salvation is 100% Christ’s doing. Salvation is available through Jesus, we just have to open the door by accepting certain truths.
Romans 10:9 gives us two instructions:
1) Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
2) Believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.
There’s no ritual here, no caveat saying, “you can only commit 10 sins once you become a Christian for your salvation to remain secure.” When Christ died on the cross, he knew all of my sins. The cross-bound Christ knew all of my future sins, the sins I thought I’d never commit, the sins which would plague me at ten, thirty, fifty, and ninety. Christ knew all of them, and died for me when I was still a sinner.
Salvation doesn’t hinge on sinlessness.
Salvation comes through Christ’s sacrifice.
Holiness is a byproduct of our salvation.
When we accept free forgiveness, it changes us.
When we accept free forgiveness, it humbles us.
When we accept free forgiveness we’ll spend our whole lives trying to honor Christ’s sacrifice for us.
We cannot earn forgiveness, and we cannot break God’s forgiving bone. But we can strive to be more like God.
In June of 1983, Kansas city chief’s running back, Joe Delaney, dove into a pond in an attempt to save three children from drowning. Delaney didn’t know how to swim. He managed to save one of the children, but he himself drowned in the process. The story was so moving, a man facing immense danger because he knew the value of others’ lives, that it inspired fans to take action. A foundation was started in his honor to teach kids how to swim. He was added to the Chief’s “Ring of Honor,” a sort of Hall of Fame for the sports team. There were also parents, like Mark and Kelly Neath, who named their children after the selfless running back. Their daughter, Delaney Neath, wears number 37—Joe Delaney’s professional football number—as a tribute of her namesake.
These Joe Delaney fans are getting a glimpse of the kingdom. When they witnessed an act of love so deep and penetrating, they responded by paying tribute with their time, their possessions, even their identities. That’s what Christ calls us to do with our holiness. When we understand the forgiveness Jesus, God in the flesh, has provided for us, our lives will be forever changed!
We will want to do him justice. We will want to change our habits. We might start a foundation. We might hang a picture of him in our wall as a constant reminder of his grace. We might name our kids “Christian” or “Jesus” or “Joshua.”