Anyone who has been a member of the “church of Christ” for any length of time has probably thought about this. It’s an honest and sincere question that deserves an answer. Is salvation about Jesus or is it about me?
I am afraid that the church, in its desire to teach the truth and understand God’s will for our lives has reduced Christianity to being something totally dependent on our efforts. I don’t believe this was intentional in any sense. I believe the church of Christ began as a genuine and honest attempt to get back to the bible and just be Christians. That is still what most of us want. We still want to be just Christians and follow the bible. I love the Lord’s church; I love “the church of Christ” even with its problems. I say this and present this problem not because I don’t like the church or want to see it fail. I present this because I want to see the church return to just following the bible and let go of the traditions (we like to call this being faithful).
I believe our approach to the faith and the New Testament has reduced the faith to an exercise in gaining knowledge and striving to conform to it. We have made it almost completely about what we know and what we do. I am afraid we have reduced the faith to a modern-day Gnosticism (an approach to the faith dependent on knowledge for salvation).
So, we are back to the question stated in the title. Is salvation from our sins dependent on Jesus Christ and his sacrifice or is it dependent on me? Is it dependent on my knowledge of the bible and ability to live good enough? If we allow that Jesus plus anything equals salvation then we would have to conclude that Jesus is not enough. That in some way He needs my help to save me.
Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that we are saved by God’s amazing grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and this is not about what we do. It is about God giving us something we don’t deserve and cannot earn. Paul takes it so far that he says in verse 9 that we could boast and be proud of our efforts if we could earn it. As Paul said in Romans 3:10, “…None is righteous, no, not one.” Salvation is a gift from God through Jesus Christ for those who trust in him.
Honestly, I am very hopeful and excited that more and more Christians are beginning to open their eyes to a new and glorious path to salvation. This new way truth is simply called the gospel: the good news that we are saved through Jesus Christ, apart from our attempts to help him. This glorious truth is called God’s amazing grace. We are saved by God’s grace and the quicker we can get it in our hearts the sooner we can move past our failures and focus on Jesus’ victories for us.
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
(Acts, 4:11-12, ESV)