SIMPLE TRUTH: Without God it is impossible

Published 9:42 am Friday, November 9, 2012

By Charles Christmas

The Christian life is a journey beyond our ability, but this article is not about the journey; it is about the beginning of the journey. Being a Christian is about the journey; becoming a Christian is about beginning the journey.

The beginning and the becoming is beyond our ability. Beginning the journey, or becoming a Christian, is referred to and called by different words and phrases in our New Testament (from darkness into light, born again, loosed from our sins, justified, made alive from death in sin, sanctified and saved.) Regardless the word or phrase, each relates to sin: my acts of sin, my source of sin, my present condition in sin and the ultimate result of my sin, but the one word most frequently used and best understood is the word ‘saved.’ Therefore, in this article, I use the word ‘saved’ to describe the beginning of the Christian life.

The verb ‘save,’ referring to the beginning of the journey, means to deliver, to set free, to rescue, or to make whole or well. So, to begin the Christian life means to be delivered, set free or rescued from your past guilt of sin and its present result in your life, and from the ultimate result of sin beyond this life. In addition, it also means to be made whole or well regarding our sick, sinful heart. In Matthew 15:19, Jesus diagnosed that our sick, sinful heart is the source of our sin.

The Lord Jesus emphasized repeatedly that this beginning of the Christian journey is beyond our ability. The disciples asked Jesus the simple question, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered once for all in Mark 10:26, “With man it is impossible.” Jesus teaches us, in Chapter 3 of John’s gospel, that something must happen to a person which only God can do or he will not begin the Christian journey. He likened it to being born again, but that in reality, it is an inward new birth by the Holy Spirit of God. We are not left helpless and without hope in this chapter. It tells about the provision for our new birth, which only God himself could make through the death of Jesus Christ for our sins and his resurrection from the dead. Then, in John 3:1-18, we are assured that there is saving faith in a true commitment to Jesus Christ. It is also taught repeatedly in the 21 letters in the New Testament that beginning the Christian life is beyond our ability.

What is the one thing that will probably keep more people out of heaven than anything else? It is the attitude that getting right with God—being saved—is something that we have the ability to do for ourselves or by ourselves.

God invites us to come to his grace, something he will do for us that we could never earn, deserve, or do for ourselves. “By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.” That does humble us, doesn’t it? God invites us to come to his mercy, where he does not give us the judgment we deserve. “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” God invites us to come to his love, which can always be found at the cross of God’s son, the Lord, Jesus Christ, our only savior, the one who saves. “This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Who then can be saved? The answer from our Lord, Jesus Christ was, “With man it is impossible, but not with God.” The beginning of the Christian life is beyond ourselves, but it is not beyond God. His call to you, or through you to others, is “Come to my grace, come to my mercy, come to my love, come to The Cross.”

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.