We have nothing to do with our salvation

#hymnsforHim

There Is A Fountain

1. There is fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

2. The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

3. Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power
’Til all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.

4. E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be ’til I die.

5. When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.

Salvation. There are many in the world today who say it is a farce. The only “salvation” you need is from your own insecurities and hindrances. That salvation comes from within – from realizing and tapping your own potential, your own “divine.” But why? Why would our insecurities be what holds us back? And why is there that sense of brokenness in the first place? We aren’t taught to feel broken – typically – we aren’t taught to sin, or break rules. We do however have be taught rules, guidelines, “do’s and dont’s.” Why is that the case? This hymn doesn’t speak to these things directly, but it does point to the facilitator of our salvation. The blood of Christ. And it is the sinners who are plunged into that pool that find their sin and brokenness paid for, and wiped away for eternity.

This salvation isn’t earned. And that is beauty of it. Think about it, if we needed to DO something to get saved, how would it be that the the sinner on the cross beside Jesus could be brought into heaven? He had done nothing – in fact, the Gospels together show us that he actually mocked Christ for a time while hanging beside Him. But in the end, he saw his error begged forgiveness, and was accepted immediately into the family of God. He prayed no specific prayer. He wasn’t baptized. He had no extreme conversion story to tell other Christians. He was simply a broken man, turning to the source of Life. And we, “though vile as he,” have the same chance at redemption, if we simply give up our “so-called” power for salvation.

His blood washes over the sins of His people. Regardless of nation, creed, language, or sin leaning. His own, the elect, the chosen from eternity – they will be washed in His sanctifying blood. Again I say, we have nothing to do with our salvation. We want to – oh, how badly we want to. We probably have a harder time coming to full grips with the Truth that we never deserve grace. That we will never earn the right to be called “sons and daughters of The Most High.” Look at most religions of the world:

  • Judaism – worship in the temple, follow the guidelines of Moses, sacrifices, be good. Two of which cannot be fulfilled fully now because there is no Davidic temple. It is about creating a ladder or sorts to reach up to YHWH to find salvation.
  • Islam – follow the 5 pillars as closely as possible (testimony, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage). It is about reaching up to the heavens to find salvation.
  • Hinduism – pray to your god(s), participate in as much good karma as you can thus outweighing the bad karma, participate in the many rituals. Hinduism is a difficult system to pin down as there are multiple legitimate ways to practice the religion.
    • New Age, or Westernized “Eastern Religions” fall into a similar category. Do good, think positively, good karma > bad karma, be respectful, et al
  • Buddhism – again, this is difficult to pin down fully. There is the threefold jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha), the threefold way (ethics, meditation, and wisdom), the four noble truths, and the noble eightfold path. Buddha is not worshiped, but revered as the first to discover the path.
    • There is more sampling of Buddhism in Westernized “New Age.” The concept of doing right by others, treating all life with respect. Doing no harm. Veganism. Yoga. The eventual end is nothingness/oneness with all.
  • Paganism/Earthy religions – These revolve around conceptions of dharma, without the word. Doing right by Gaia, or Mother Earth. These religions/cults simply spring up everywhere, so pinning anything specific down is impossible. You can see reflections in Wicca, Celtic religions, and even the “new” Jedi Temple followers.
  • Mormonism – believe in the works of Christ, follow the tenets prescribed in The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenant. The Book of Mormon is seen as a supplementary work to the Bible. In addition to knowing those scriptures, you are expected (basically required) to do a host of other things that are honestly contested among Mormons because of their secretive nature around many aspects of their faith.
    • It should be mentioned that the Bible explicitly states the following two things that Mormonism clashes with
      • 1) “if another teacher, or even an angel from above preach another message than the one you have been given, may they be cursed.” – (paraphrased) Galatians 1:8
      • 2) “if anyone adds to this book of prophesy may the curses be added to him, and if he takes away may his name be taken away from the Book of Life.” – (paraphrased) Revelation 22:19

 

I could go on to other religions/off shoots but I think the point has been made. Every other major religion across the world, and across time revolves around mankind doing something. Right worship, right speak, right actions, supplementary actions, etc… Christ is the opposite in every way. Christ was the one who had right speech, right actions, right worship, right living, etc… He, being God incarnate, came to earth and followed His own law to the letter from the Torah and fulfilled it! He came and reached down to his creation in it’s sin and despair. He saved us.

That is not an easy concept to want to grasp. It is honestly much easier, and much more enticing (on the surface) to simply follow a few rules. Be a good person. Do good things. Be kind. Smile. And find eternal bliss. But sin is more prevalent, and more encompassing than we wish to admit. Which is why we needed a perfect substitute for the sin. Christ was that propitiation. He was that perfect sacrifice that is called for in the Law of Moses. His blood, that was poured out at His crucifixion, is what washes away our guilt, our shame, our bad decisions, our mean words, our callous hearts. It can’t be us… we are broken.

 

But thanks be to God, that He has a way to find communion again.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

2. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

3. Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

4. And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

5. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

#hymnsforHim

Amazing grace, as one of the most well known hymns, has touched the lives of millions upon millions of people since its inception in the 1800’s. It tells us a story not unlike our own – one of woe, and sin; one of complete helplessness, one of traversing many hardships. Yet the tag is always pointing to our Savior who promises so much more if we but accept grace freely given.

Grace is a concept that seems somewhat foreign to our post/hyper-modern world. To give freely what is unearned, or in fact undeserved seems preposterous. Grace must be co-opted. It is both a work of God and of man. He offers it, and we reach out and accept it. That makes the most sense, no? It may make sense to the world. Nothing is free. But grace, God’s grace, THAT is free.

For grace to be merited, is to make assumption that we have power in our salvation. That may sound empowering, and to some it may even sound like a good thing! But lets think for a second. How good are you really? How often, in the heat of a moment of temptation, do you choose good – do you choose God? I would be honest in saying over 50% of the time I choose sin. So, if we co-opt with God for our salvation, when did we choose good? Why does one particular choice bring salvation, and others are just choices? Are we really that proud to say that God, the omnipotent, all gracious Being that He is can be turned away? That when He offers grace to a sinner, we have any choice but to accept it in awe and amazement of His majesty?

That is what this song allows us to see. Amazing grace! How sweet such an offer sounds, that He would wish to save such a wretched sinner as myself?? Once I wandered the wilderness that is my sin, I was lost in my own damnation – but now! Now, I am found in Him who found me. He took my face, He made the scales to fall from my blind eyes. He held my blackened heart and He made me new. He taught me true fear, a fear of not knowing Him – then instantaneously He relieved those fears through His grace. There is so much in my life I have already done, that I have already made it through. It is by God’s grace that I stand here today – that I found breath this morning. And I know – I know for certain! – that it is His grace that will lead me to a new home when my time comes. It will be a life of endless peace and worship – one devoid of sinful flesh. It will be a life full of true purpose, and absolute fellowship with my brothers and sisters and with our Lord. And when we have spent an incalculable number of days before our Lord, singing His praises, working in and to His glory, it will be as if we had only begun.

Amazing grace!