It’s Not About What We Deserve
Christians often express gratitude for their salvation in terms such as, “I am so grateful that God saved me even though I did not deserve it.”
I get what they mean, and I understand that they are truly grateful for God’s salvation. I might even wonder about them if they were not grateful.
But the problem is that deserving or not deserving has nothing at all to do with salvation.
When a person is rescued from a burning building by a brave fireman, that person never says they are glad they were saved even though they did not deserve it. They were rescued because they were in peril and someone was willing to risk their own life for the benefit of another. Merit has nothing to do with any of it. The single most relevant factors are the character of the fireman and the imminent danger of the survivor. To ask whether or not the person “deserved” to be rescued is meaningless, even thoughtless.
In similar fashion, we were not in danger of hell because we did not deserve to go to heaven. We were dead and without hope because we have an enemy who is engaged in a reign of terror rooted in a scorched-earth policy of “steal, kill, and destroy.” Jesus came to save us from our bondage to this god of darkness, as surely as a fireman endeavors to rescue the victim of a fire. Merit was simply not the issue here.
We were not going to hell because we sinned. The truth is that we were already dead and in mortal danger because of the toxic infection of sin itself and because the kingdom of darkness has been trying to destroy humanity since the day Adam was formed. We sin because we have all been infected. And sin destroys our soul.
The Incarnation was an act of war and the beginning of the greatest rescue operation ever undertaken in all of history. Like the slaves of Egypt, we have been set free by the power of God, because that is the kind of God we have. Our merit was never the issue; only God’s desire to save us so that He could have a holy, loving family for Himself.
So where does wrath come in? Well, we thank God that He hates all that which seeks to destroy, especially our cosmic foe and all that he has done. That is part of what it means for God to be “Good.” But anyone who plans on staying with that darkness instead of reaching for our Divine Rescuer will tragically suffer the loss of their life forever. Again, this is not about merit. It is about who is our god or God, and whether or not we want to be saved from our enemy and our self.
We are grateful to God for saving us, because we would never have been able to free ourselves from bondage, or defeat our enemy, or regenerate our spirit, or cleanse our soul of sin. All of that has been done by God, who loves every one who has been taken captive by the kingdom of darkness and who call on Him for rescue.
Thank You, God!