Practical Christianity

…training in godliness

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound 
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see. (John Newton)

I remember singing this hymn in a choir, a few years before I was saved. At that point I did not understand what grace meant, but I stood before people and sang!

Sadly, that was not all – amongst other things, I frequently attended church services, served in church and tried to be a morally upright person. Based on mainstream opinion and my own judgment, I concluded that I was a Christian, even though I did not love God or sought to truly follow Him.

But according to the word of God, I was actually very lost and very blind because I was relying on my good works to make me right with God. Thanks be to God who brought me to hear and understand the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ while in university!

You see, being morally upright, going to church and serving in church does not make one a Christian.

A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ – one who has recognized that he is a sinner and has broken God’s law for which he will be punished, who then seeks to be reconciled to God through faith (belief) in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:23, I Corinthians 15:3-4).

Christians are those who have been saved from their sins by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21, 1Corinthians 15: 3-4). They are people who have repented of their sins, and have put their faith in Christ alone for reconciliation to God and salvation. Christians are those who, having been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ now follow Him, are in him and live for Him (2 Corinthians5:15, 17).

In conversations with people, I sometimes hear things like, “I was born a Christian”, “I am a Christian because I go to church”, “My parents are Christians”, “I serve in church”… the list goes on and on. These statements make me wonder how many of us still conclude that we are Christians because of these man-made unbiblical criteria.

Let us examine three of the aforementioned statements in light of God’s word.

“I am a Christian because I was born a Christian”

This is contrary to what the Bible says about us humans. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

David speaking in Psalm 51:5 says “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” 

This lament by David echoes what we are told in Romans 5:12 that “… through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”  

Passage after passage in the Bible shows us that all men are born in sin, there is no one born righteous, neither is anyone born a Christian. (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 143:2, Romans 3:10).

“I am a Christian because I go to church”

But the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 15:8-9 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

God said the same to Israel in Isaiah 29:13, “… these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me …”

Jesus Christ told Nicodemus, a Pharisee, who was a ruler of the Jews that one needed to be born again to see the kingdom of God. I doubt that in Jesus days, any other sect of people were as religious as the Pharisees. But even this teacher of Israel, did not understand what it meant to be born again. Nicodemus must have taught in the synagogue! (John3: 1-10)

This shows us that although attending church services might be a sign that one is indeed a Christian (Hebrews 10:25), outward formalities do not mean one has been reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus and is a Christian.  It is possible to go to church and not be a Christian.

 “I am a Christian because I serve in church”

But the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Of course, a Christian will serve for the advancement of God’s kingdom because we are created for good works (Ephesians 2:10) but serving in church or for the advancement of God’s kingdom neither saves nor makes a person a Christian.  

We have seen from the Bible that all have sinned against God; there is no righteous man on earth who does good and does not sin. We have also seen that our works cannot save us. Having established that we are all sinners, how do we deal with God’s judgment and His word that tells us that the wages of sin is death? How can we be saved from our sins?

I am a Christian because I have been saved by God’s amazing grace!

Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of our sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. Salvation is a gift that cannot be earned by our works or claimed as a right!

In Christ Jesus is the amazing grace that saves a wretch, saves a sinner and reconciles him or her to God. That is why He took on flesh (John 1:14) and came to this world. He came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21, John 3:16).

Apostle Paul rightly said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” and 2 Corinthians 5:15 “… He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

The Lord Jesus paid the price for our sins. We can be reconciled to God because of His death, burial and resurrection. This is amazing grace! We can’t earn it!

So, if you have read to this point and can confidently say “I am a Christian because I believe that Christ Jesus died for my sins to reconcile me to God and He is working in me to live for Him through the help of His Spirit”, o rejoice and thank Him!

But if you have read through and this is not your reality, I beg you, plead with the Lord Jesus to save you! He will not cast out any that comes to Him for salvation, for He came to seek and to save those who are lost (John6:37, Luke19:10).

Omoze Ojo

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