Have you ever wished your salvation story was a bit more dramatic? Is it unusual to hear a fantastic testimony of how God lifted a hopeless, lost and broken sinner out of the depths of destruction and think, “I wish I had a testimony like that?”
Maybe you do.
The contrast between the suffocating darkness of sin and the flooding light of God’s grace pouring into the life of a repentant sinner is powerful. We love to hear these stories but is the salvation of any one of these saved souls any less spectacular than yours?
There are many reasons why we might downplay the miraculous work of God in saving us. Perhaps we think we deserved to be saved, or we were not as bad as other people, maybe we like to think we didn’t have as much sin to be saved from, or maybe we don’t fully understand sin and grace.
To help us understand sin we must remember that we are born sinners, it is what we are and therefore we sin. We don’t have the power within us to stop sinning or to change our sin nature. As sinners, we stand condemned and destined for eternal destruction.
Being a sinner, we have no righteousness, though we may do good things. We may live refined lives, but our actions cannot save us or change us. We are vile and depraved souls; there is nothing good in us. Our sinful estate separates us from a holy God. We need a Savior.
It doesn’t matter how the circumstances of our lives appeared before we were saved, the truth is we were as hopelessly imprisoned in sin as an inmate on death row. We were unable to free ourselves from our chains. We were unable to escape. We were condemned to death. We lived dead lives in darkness.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” – Ephesians 2:1-4 NIV
To help us understand grace, we must ask: Why should God save any one? We don’t want him, (though we may want the things he can give us.) We don’t think we need him (though we may need the things only he can provide). And, we don’t want him nosing around in our business making us feel guilty all the time (though only he can remove the shame and the guilt). That God would choose to save anyone is testimony to his grace.
Once we more clearly see the black backdrop of sin in our lives and recognize the brilliant diamond of God’s grace, then the focus of our salvation moves from who we were or what we did before we were saved and onto the saving work of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
“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. 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 2:5, 8-9 NIV
When our testimony centers on what Jesus did to accomplish our salvation, then every salvation story becomes a magnificent declaration of the riches of God’s love, mercy and grace. The cost to redeem my soul, yours, or the vilest sinner is the same: it cost the life of Jesus; his precious blood poured out for you and for me.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. “ – 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV
Is there anything about your testimony of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that is not sufficiently dramatic? God saved you from sin. He saved you from the penalty of that sin – his just and holy wrath. He saved you from the power of sin – you no longer live enslaved but free. In addition, he saved you from the presence of sin – one day you will live forever with him in his perfect heaven!
No salvation story is bland or powerless if the focus is on the grace of God and the redemption through Christ Jesus our Lord!