THE WORD IS
1. Cor. 3:11 "For other foundation can no man lay
than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
We were talking about God's Commandments in a Boys' Group. I asked: "Who has kept them?" "No one. It's impossible ", the boys answered. They had undoubtedly been taken to task more than once for some of their pranks and misdeeds. They had a clear understanding of the fact that they had not kept the Commandments.
I then asked them: "How then can you get to heaven?" Someone answered: "If we don't do anything wrong anymore." We discussed the matter. We noted that God demands perfect holiness and that we are not able to live like that. And we also noted that even our former sins will keep us from heaven.
Someone else suggested: "When we pray that God will forgive us." This answer was closer to the truth. The boys were aware of the fact that sin must be forgiven. But then I asked them: "Would God forgive us, just like that, when we have offended Him?" We came to the conclusion that God needed a compensation for our sins.
We had come to an impasse: We are sinners and we are not able to atone for our sins. "What will happen to us," I asked, "will we be damned?" Then one of the boys said: "But when this Jesus died..."
In this indeed is the sinner's salvation: that Jesus died for our sins. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their tresspasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:19). This is how God manifested His love for us. We were not able to atone for our sins, but God's Son became our Subsitute and died for us. God is therefore already merciful to us because of His Son. We do not have to appease Him with our works or even with our prayers. It is true that we must pray: "Forgive us our tresspasses." But we dare to pray like this because we know that God is merciful to sinners because of what Christ has done. We pray because we already believe.
Those who are not yet sure of their salvation should by all means ponder the suffering of Christ in the light of God's Word. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Is. 53:5). This is how we become assured of our salvation. Jesus died because of us, we are saved because of Jesus.