I love conversion stories!  I subscribe to Christianity Today. One of my first stops in each issue is the back page, a feature called Testimony. On two pages the story of a person who has experienced the grace of God is told.  Last month a man raised as a racist, a Klansman, told his dramatic story of change. (I Was a Violent Klansman) When God’s Spirit touches the human heart and there is a response of faith, something real and wonderful happens. A whole new way of life becomes possible. The assurance of eternity with God in Heaven is written on the heart of that one who comes to Christ Jesus.

Have you been ‘saved?’  Paul, in his letter to the Romans, writes of the predicament of humanity in chapters 1 to 3. Sin came into the world, bringing alienation from God, death, obscuring the image of God. The famed verse says that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NIV)  The splendor of being God’s image bearers was lost until Christ Jesus came to save us.

He urges us to faith, presenting our salvation in three analogies that deepen our assurance.

We are justified. (Romans 3:24)  In the court of Heaven we were indicted and bound to be condemned at the Judgment. But, when we believe and receive Christ, God declares us ‘not guilty,’ not because we are deserving, but because Jesus extends grace to us. It’s more than a pardon. We are free of guilt!

We are redeemed. (Romans 3:24)  In the world in which Paul lived slavery was common. Your neighbor could become a slave if he fell into debt. Sold into servitude to satisfy that debt was a terrible thing. However, there could be redemption! If family and/or friends put together enough resources to pay off the debt, the person enslaved was redeemed, set free.  You and I, in our natural state, are slaves of sin, but there is a Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son. Jesus tells us of His mission to pay the ransom for our freedom. (Mark 10:45)  “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Our love for Him is such that we become servants of God, living to please Him. As Paul says “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

We are given the gift of righteousness.  “Now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known,God presented him (Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” (Romans 3:25, NIV)  The sacrifice of atonement is an analogy based in the temple sacrifice for sin. Paul has in mind here the mercy seat that was the lid of the ark of covenant.  There, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest carried blood for an offering on behalf of the people that satisfied the holy demands of God.

A system of sacrifices turned away God’s wrath from the sinner. Shocked at that language?  Perhaps that is because our concept of God is so impoverished. He is a loving Father, the glorious Creator, and the Judge of all the earth.  We are, “by nature objects of wrath,’ except that God, mysteriously and wondrously, offered His own Son as the final sacrifice for sin, once for all time.

That sacrifice of Jesus is viewed from three perspectives, each adding to our faith!
Substitutionary– He suffered the penalty of sin ‘in our place.’
Propitiatory – He satisfied the demands of a holy God ‘on our behalf.’
Expiatory – He annulled the guilt by removing the consequence of sin ‘for us.’

Yes, those are hard concepts for us but we must go beyond a superficial and emotion-based grasp of the amazing gift of God. When our minds are filled with the wonder of salvation – that we are justified, that we are redeemed, that God has made us right at great cost – there is an unshakeable assurance that fills our mind and heart, compelling us to joy and faithful love.

Have you been ‘saved?’

Here is a word from the Word. Oh, may the promise of God that saves us from the human predicament cause us to sing today.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:13-17, NIV)  Amen


This Is Amazing Grace

(sing with Phil Wickman)

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory the King above all kings
Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory the King above all kings

  (Yeah) (Oh) This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You laid down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh Jesus I sing for all that You’ve done for me

 Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory the King of Glory
Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory the King above all kings

 Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy worthy worthy

Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham © 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by BMG Rights Management [c/o Music Services, Inc.]) Seems Like Music (Admin. by BMG Rights Management [c/o Music Services, Inc.]) Sing My Songs (Admin. by BMG Rights Management [c/o Music Services, Inc.]) WC Music Corp. (Admin. by Word Entertainment, LLC) Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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