One of the defining characteristics of Christianity is that we can’t save ourselves. This belief, that our right standing before God is all God-given grace, is what sets us apart from other religions in the world. A few days ago as we were talking to a non-Christian friend about his religion, he laid out what he believed would happen to him after he died. One statement he made has stuck with me. After explaining his beliefs to us, he basically said that he really has no assurance that he will be saved in the end. He just hopes that his good works will be enough to please his god. After he told us that, one phrase just kept ringing in my ears:
“Full atonement, can it be! Hallelujah! What a savior!”
The words from this popular hymn capture the essence of our great salvation so beautifully. The hymn writer unpacks the work Christ accomplished on our behalf and his only response can be “hallelujah, what a savior!” It’s our response as well.
Perhaps one might think that a conversation about religion could make a believer question his or her beliefs. Maybe it does. But I would venture to say that Jesus shines more brightly when we see him up against the false religions that blind so many in our world.
Works of righteousness will never be enough for anyone to stand before God. Even our best days are filthy rags to him. He is too holy and too majestic to even look on our good days and let us go free. That is why my friend has to do so many good works. It’s never enough. And when he gets to the end of his life, he will still fall short.
But Jesus made a way. Another non-Christian friend of ours said that he thinks people become Christians because it’s easier to be a Christian than to follow his religion. Christians are more free and don’t have to do as many things as he does. And he is right. Christians are the freest of all people because we are no longer in bondage to our sin. We have been covered by the free grace of Christ and our sins don’t condemn us anymore. Christ did all of the work for us.
It seems so basic, doesn’t it? If you have been a Christian for a number of years it’s so easy to put aside the realities of your salvation. We get busy. We focus on other aspects of Christianity. We forget the feeling we felt when Christ first saved us. But Jesus Christ took your sins and paid for them all so you could be in his family. So often we need a jolt to be reminded of our great salvation. I know I did.
There are millions of people in our world who cannot see that Jesus is enough. They have not tasted his goodness and embraced his salvation on their behalf. Instead they live in darkness believing that the only way they will ever see light is if they work as hard as they can to get out of the darkness. The harder they work, the darker their world becomes. If you have been given eyes to see the light of Christ, praise him for the full atonement for your sins. And pray that many lost people would be given eyes to see him too. It is all of grace, freely given by our great Savior.