What is the Gospel? (Part 5)
The Nature of Salvation
NOTE to Leaders: Again, this is for you, but also to pass along to men who might be encouraged to think about God in this way.
Who is the famous person you would most like to meet? Suppose you received a call from that person’s executive assistant—say it’s Billy Graham—to say he wanted to get to know you. How would you feel? You would feel overwhelmed. You wouldn’t be able to comprehend that he—this famous person—would condescend to seek you out. It would be exciting.
As you prepared for your meeting, you would rehearse what to do and say. You would stand in front of a mirror and practice your initial greeting. You would think of a gift you could take. You would consider all the impressive things you could say. In the end, though, you would realize you have nothing to offer and nothing to say. You would realize there was no logical reason why you were selected over anyone else. You would realize how fruitless it would be, maybe even stupid, to try to impress your hero. In the end, you would realize that all you could do was humbly accept the invitation. You would go to the appointment expectantly and joyfully, but with fear and trepidation. You would simultaneously feel honored, yet amazed at your random good fortune.
At your first meeting, your hero seems to already know a lot about you. This flatters you. You are embarrassed that you have not done more research on him. Nothing you say comes out right, yet he accepts everything you say and tries to make you feel comfortable. At the end of your meeting he astonishes you by asking if you can become personal friends. You’re incredulous that this man is pursuing you.
You, knowing what a “big” person he is, leap at the opportunity. You are so honored and feel so highly esteemed. Suddenly, though, you remember who you are. You assume he doesn’t know all that. You certainly tried to make a good impression, but you think, He has no idea about all the sinful things I have done. You realize—or at least think you realize—that if he really knew who you were, he wouldn’t want anything to do with you. You protest mildly, “But I’m nobody. Why would you want a personal friendship with me?”
This is the nature of our salvation. It is not something we “do” to make God like us. God already likes us. It is not doing enough good deeds to land in the “top third of the class.” It is not a task; it is a relationship. It is not a transaction; it is a relationship. God loves you and he wants a relationship. This relationship is built on the foundation of believing in him and accepting his promises. He promises if we will trust in him to do us good and turn from our sinful ways that he will save us. That’s what it means to be born again. That’s what it means to surrender.
The Act of Salvation
Are you living in relationship with the Lord? Have you truly surrendered your life to Jesus Christ?
If you are not sure, you can be. Tell God about your desire to yield control of your life to him in humble surrender. Repent of your sins. Invite Jesus Christ to take up residence in your heart and mind. He will give you new life. You will be born again.
You may want to put these thoughts into a prayer of your own words or, if you feel more comfortable, you can pray the following prayer. . .
Lord Jesus, I have very little enjoyment or peace in my life. That’s because I have never really surrendered my life to you. I have only known enough about you to be disappointed. You are the one who has answers to the questions I have about life. I know that I must be born again, but I have wanted to be in control. I have been a sinful man, and I am sorry. I want to change. I know there is nothing I can do to be worthy, but you love me as I am. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for offering to be my Good Shepherd, to give me the everlasting life, and to keep anything from snatching me out of your hand. I surrender my life to you. Help me to enjoy a relationship with you. Amen.
Your brother in the battle,