When I was seven years old, I had a friend who gave his life to Christ. It seemed like a great idea to me, so I became a Christian too. I grew up hearing about the great works of God. I knew God sent Jesus to die for the sins of the world and that He raised Christ back to life after His death. I never questioned those things. I would even go so far as to say that I understood the concept of sin. Looking back I can confidently say that though I understood the concept of sin, I didn't believe I was really a sinner. To some extent, sin was something in my mind that I might catch, like a cold. I did not know it was a disease that already lived in my heart and separated me from God.
In my adolescent years, I learned stories about who God was, memorized Bible verses and served on the worship arts team. I did all the things 'good Christians' were supposed to do. And everyone would have said that I was ‘good’. What they didn’t know was that I was constantly in turmoil. I grew tired of doing good. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't behave perfectly. My high school and college years were filled with struggles of sin and darkness. I rededicated my life at every opportunity, camp and alter-call. I continually felt like I was lost and knew somewhere there was a disconnect between what was actually happening in my heart and what I had read about in Scripture. I also knew there was something drastically different between my life and the lives of many others who also claimed to know Jesus. They had peace; I didn't. They had real joy; I didn't. I thought the key to being saved was to read my Bible more, pray more and do more Christian things. I thought those things would ultimately bring more peace in my life and alleviate the doubt, fears and emptiness in my heart, but they didn’t.
When I was 22, I served at Crossings Camps as a summer staffer. I had the opportunity to lead students in Bible Studies and serve alongside many other godly men and women. Despite all the good things I was doing, I still felt empty and began to doubt the salvation I thought I had received when I was seven. I remember one night at camp when the doubts and fears were particularly heavy. I began to defend my doubts and fears of not knowing Jesus by listing all the good things I had done and by telling Jesus that I had really meant the prayer for salvation that I had prayed as a child. In that moment, the Spirit confronted me with the Grace of Christ and said, “Since when is this about anything you have done?” I realized for the first time that my salvation had NOTHING to do with what I had done, the prayers I prayed, or the verses I memorized. Instead, my salvation had EVERYTHING to do what what JESUS had done. Salvation is ALL about Grace; it's all about what Jesus finished on my behalf. It isn’t about my good works, but about HIS.
I gave my life to Christ when I was a self-righteous and sinful 22 year old. Christ died for my self-righteousness. Praise God. I'm not trusting in my good works anymore. I’m not confident in what I bring to the table, only in the blood of Christ that is my defense, my hope and my salvation.
Author: Jordan Atwell