Salvation, Repentance and Grace
Suppose with me, for a moment, that you have committed a heinous crime for which the penalty is death. You know that you are guilty and your shame fills you until you feel that it will drag you to your grave. You quietly voice your repentance over your misdoings. There you stand in the courtroom, waiting for the judge to proclaim your sentence and for the menacing gavel to fall, sealing your fate. The moments tick by; the world seems to stand still. The judge opens his mouth to speak. You lower you head to receive the evil tidings. However, he does not even have the chance to speak before the door of the courtroom bursts open and the very man that you committed the crime against enters the room. You watch in silence as the he walks to the front.
“Your honor, I wish to take this man’s punishment in his place. I wish to give my life in order to save his.”
You stand in shock, wondering if what you are hearing is true. Would he really die in your place? His calm and resolute face answers the question. He means it. The judge considers the man’s proposal and then proclaims that you are free.
This is a picture of the three most important concepts of the Christian faith, repentance, grace, and salvation. You stand convicted and waiting for your fate to be sealed. You know that you are guilty and yet the man whom you offended lays down his life to save yours. This is what Christ did on the cross. He took all of our sins and misdoings and placed them as far away as the east is from the west!
In order to fully understand this story, we need to break it down and look at the different components through the lens of Scripture and some of the writings of great heroes of the faith, past and present. In this journey, I hope to, by God’s grace, give a deeper understanding of grace, repentance, and salvation. My aim is to
explain the meaning and significance of these three all-important subjects.
First, we will look at repentance. What does it really mean and why is it significant? To help shed light on this subject, I would like to quote one of my favorite authors and speakers of all times, David Platt. In his book, “Follow Me” Platt speaks about repentance in the following way:
“Repentance is a rich biblical term that signifies an elemental transformation in someone’s mind, heart, and life. When people repent, they turn from walking in one direction to running in the opposite direction. From that point forward, they think differently, believe differently, feel differently, love differently, and live differently.”
This is really one of the best definitions of repentance that could ever be spoken this side of eternity. ‘When people repent, they turn from walking in one direction to running in the opposite direction.’ Repentance requires several things: turning from sin to God, acknowledging and taking full responsibility for our misdoings, and mourning our sins.
In Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” At face value, it is easy to think ‘oh good. When I lose a loved one or something goes terribly wrong and I am mourning over it, I will be comforted.’ While this is true, it is not the context of this verse. Instead, it means that when we come to the absolute end of ourselves and, by the grace of God, realize that there is nothing that we can do to clean ourselves of our sins we will come to a place of mourning. We will lament the fact that we have no ability whatsoever to help ourselves. This is where Jesus says ‘no! I have given my life in your place and I am here to give you forgiveness for your sins. And not only forgiveness, but I am also here to wipe your slate clean and dwell in you forever.’ He has done what we could not do and we owe an eternity of debt to him.
This brings me to my next point, grace. Grace is most commonly defined as the unmerited favor of God toward man. God gives us grace or favor even when we absolutely wreck everything. Go back with me to our courtroom scene. When the offended came in and offered his life in exchange for yours, he was showing you grace. You deserved death but he desired to save you from that fate. It would be like if your mother had told you to stay out of the cookie jar and you got in it anyway. The penalty for this offence is a spanking. However, when your mother goes to administer it, she spanks herself instead of you. This is grace as well.
When our sins damned us to hell, Christ intervened and paid the price for our sins so that we may be blameless. In fact, through the lens of Christ’s blood, there are not even any sins on our record! It is easy to see why grace is so important. Without it, we would go to hell and spend eternity separated from God. In addition, grace plays a huge part in humbling us. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. “Grace takes away all of our pride. When we have to acknowledge that we cannot measure up to God’s standard (Romans 3:21, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.) we have to eat a rather large slice of humble pie. As humans, we desire to get ourselves to the top. To save ourselves. We do not need an outside force to help us; we are invincible. Every person has, at one point in his or her life, had this mindset. I have and so have you. There may be someone in this room who still thinks that way, but let me tell you, God will break your self-sufficiency and wreck your life if need be until you find yourself ready to reconcile with the fact that you are not your own savior. Likewise, good works cannot save you. It matters not how many good things you do in your life if you commit even one sin. If you are (or were) ever disobedient to your parents, God sees you as guilty as a murderer. No one has ever lived a blameless life except for Christ. We cannot work our way to heaven.
This is the importance of grace. Through the grace of God, we can be saved and spend eternity in heaven.
This brings me to the final subject that I wish to discuss, salvation. We have studied grace and repentance but we have not yet studied where it is that they lead. After the repentance of our sins, the gates of the grace of God open and a flood of abundant favor washes down upon us.
The Hebrew word for salvation is Yesh-ua, and it literally means, “He shall save, The Savior, or salvation". The Greek word is soteria (so-tay-ree'-ah) and it means “deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation.” Now, just in case all that is Greek to you, (pun intended!) here is the English definition: “liberation from ignorance or illusion, the act of saving someone from sin or evil: the state of being saved from sin or evil.” From all of these definitions, we can gather that salvation means being delivered from certain, eternal death. I love the definition where it says “liberation from ignorance or illusion.” You see, before Christ came to our aid, we were trapped in ignorance and illusions. We did not know how to be reconciled to God and we were stuck in our illusions and disbelief.
Unfortunately, many people are still stuck in their illusions. One of the most common is the illusion that God can be dumbed down to a small man who just loves us, when, in actuality, He is the creator of the universe, lover of our underserving souls, righteous judge, and so much more. I once heard it said that “the universe was just one of God’s thoughts.” And how true this is! Many people forget this facet of Christ and recreate Him to be a loving Deity that would never send anyone to hell. This is not true. Yes, God is loving, but he is also just and therefore cannot allow sin in His holy kingdom. Unless Christ has given you salvation, you have a one-way ticket to hell, and there are no buts about it.
So now that we know what salvation is (the abundance of God’s grace to our underserving souls) let us look at why it is so important. Not only does salvation save us from something; it saves us to something. We are saved from going to hell, yes, but we are also saved to an eternal relationship with our creator. We are saved from sin and death to righteousness and life. Not only that, but we are given a purpose that has no comparison. We are given the global commission to go and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. We now have not only the ability but also the courage to do this. CT Studd once said:
"Difficulties, dangers, disease, death, or divisions don’t deter any but Chocolate Soldiers from executing God’s Will. When someone says there is a lion in the way, the real Christian promptly replies, “That’s hardly enough inducement for me; I want a bear or two besides to make it worth my while to go.”
This is the courage that we are given a continual supply of from our creator. These are the reasons that salvation is so important.
So, my friends, I urge you to examine your hearts before Christ and see of you truly understand the important principles of grace, repentance and salvation. For, when you reach eternity, it will be too late. You have only the chances given to you while you live on this earth. This is just such a chance. You may never have another opportunity to settle your eternal destiny firmly in Christ. Remember, you must be repentant of your sins, mourning the hopelessness of your life without Christ. Repent of your sins before your heavenly father and allow His grace to flood your soul through salvation. The Bible says to “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (acts 16:31) when we believe that Christ died on the cross to take our sins and was then raised from the dead on the third day and now sits at the right hand on God, the Bible says that we will be saved. All you have to do is believe. And get ready because you have just begun the most important journey in your entire life!