“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12-17)
I was speaking with someone the other day about God and salvation, and the statement was said, “I am not good enough to be saved.” I responded with “You’re absolutely right!” You see, in Romans 3:23, we read that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The fact of the matter is that none of us are good enough to be saved.
Paul is a great example of this. In the scripture above, Paul talks about his past. Before Paul was saved (while he was still known as Saul), he tormented Christians. By his own admission, in Galations 1:13-14, Paul writes, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” Paul was intent on destroying Christianity because of the zealotry he had for Judaism, including destroying the very people who were spreading this “new” religion. In fact, after Paul had been saved and started going to meet with other disciples in Jerusalem, those disciples questioned as to whether he had really been saved. Talk about not feeling like you’re good enough! Paul had more reasons than not to feel that way.
The fact of the matter is, as it was mentioned before, none of us are “good” enough to be saved. That went out the window when Adam and Eve both ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden. If salvation were based on works, we would all be hellbound, because there is no way our good works could ever outweigh our bad ones. Thankfully, like Paul, we have the opportunity to be redeemed in spite of that.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
If the case against works wasn’t clear enough, these verses in Ephesians makes it even more plain. Salvation is by grace through faith, and that’s all there is to it. It doesn’t have anything to do with us other than we are receiving salvation from God. It’s also important to note that works of another man can’t save you either. Salvation is between you and God, and ONLY you and God. It’s your own prayer, your own experience, and no one else can save you or pray through to God for you.
Now, if you’re wondering when this happens, it happens after you have felt conviction--a burden (heavy feeling) on your heart. Once this happens, all you have to do is humble yourself and pray for God to save you. If you will humble yourselves, then He will save you. That’s not a work: it’s turning everything over to God. Once you have that complete trust, you will receive salvation, and it is like a sweet peace that envelops you and replaces the burden you had.
The best part about all this is the salvation experience I have been talking about is available to everyone! You are not “too bad” to be saved; salvation is offered for everyone who is willing to humble themselves. That’s the hard part though. Pride is a hard thing to overcome. Paul didn’t realize the true path of salvation until he heard Stephen preaching as he was being stoned to death. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Paul (as Saul) ordered that execution to happen.
You have an opportunity right now. Forget about what you’ve done in the past. Forget about all the things that don’t make you good enough. If, after reading this, you realize that you haven’t been saved, you have an opportunity to make an altar (start praying) and humble yourself, and God WILL save you. Doing this could make the difference between an eternity of paradise or damnation. Where does your heart stand with God?
Bro. Lain Tomlinson is the Youth Director at Beckwith Missionary Baptist Church. He was called to preach in October 2015 and has preached all over middle Tennessee and Texas since then.