Each of us that claim the name "Christian" has a unique story of our salvation. Some of us were raised in a Christian home by parents committed to our spiritual growth and maturity. Others came to faith later in life through the influence of a friend or family member. We read stories of men like John Newton who were taken from lives of horrendous sin and guilt and others like John Piper who were raised by evangelists and continue in that work. One of the greatest stories of salvation is the Apostle Paul, recounted in Acts 9. Here was a man who was actively imprisoning Christians, the religious terrorist of his day, who God converted to be head of His mission to the Gentiles.
No matter the conversion story; no matter the drama or seeming lack there-of, all stories of salvation share the same theme. We were all dead in our sin, chained in slavery to our flesh with no hope of recovery. Then God acted. He brought the dead heart to life, broke the chains of slavery to sin, and enabled us to answer the call to follow Christ. This act of justification has happened billions of times throughout the centuries and is the same in each and every heart.
That is why I love the hymn "And Can It Be". The third verse captures the essence of what I've been writing about:
"Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me!"
Each verse of this hymn covers a different element of our salvation. We begin with reflection on the great love of Christ that would send Him to death for me. The next verse covers the emptying of Christ as he took on flesh, only to sacrifice that flesh because of His mercy and love. Verse 3 tells the salvation story of our justification and adoption into His family. The final verse is the great anthem of Romans 8:1- "No condemnation now I dread!" We are now alive in Christ, enabled to boldly approach the eternal throne where all of our hopes and desires are fully realized in Jesus.
This song is the heart of why we worship. We don't come to God out of duty or obligation. We come as a grateful people, completely struck dumb at the amazing love of God. How many other religions have a god that willingly dies for his people; a people that couldn't care less at the time? None. And yet, our God did just that.
As you go to worship this week, I pray the amazing love of God will again break into your heart and shine brightly, urging you to respond in praise to our great Savior.