It is so easy to read something in the Bible and just keep going… not stopping to realize what was actually just said. In fact, you can read the same section over and over and then someday, just stop on text you’ve read multiple times and it hits you and you just think WOW!
I can’t count the number of times I’ve read about the conversion experience of Paul, either the first experience in Acts or the recount of the experience in his letters. It’s easy to look at such an experience and think, but I’ve never heard God’s voice or seen a bright light or been made blind for three days. Those kind of experiences are just reserved for those extra special people like Paul.
However, don’t miss the point of who Paul was BEFORE that moment. He was Saul. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1). His desire to actually murder Christians was solely on the fact that they believed Jesus was Lord. We know a group that exists today with the same philosophy… Islamic Terrorists.
Yes, the division between Saul and an Islamic Terrorist was very thin. Both have the backing of the leaders of their faith. Both see Christians as an assault to their faith. Both see absolutely no ethical challenge in murdering Christians (men, women and children) purely because of their faith.
This is the amazing part. It’s easy to read about Saul (knowing he will become Paul and that God will use him for amazing things) and understand why God forgave him. But he is really no different than these terrorists. This got me thinking about the amazing level of forgiveness that Christ’s sacrifice offers. If one of those terrorists, responsible for killing perhaps hundreds of Christians just because… if one of them were to turn to Jesus and simple confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that He is Lord…. their sins will also be forgiven.
Think about that. God would welcome that terrorist into His family, adopt him as a son and offer a full inheritance of eternal life. Every bit of his sinful past would be washed away.
You see, in my earthly relativistic view of sin, I was looking at my ‘small’ sins of lying to my parents as a kid, getting into fights, having lustful thoughts, thinking ill of another… I was looking at these sins as ‘small’ and looking at terrorists sins of murder as ‘large’. But the truth is, if all these sins carry the same wage (eternal death), why was is surprising that all these sins would therefore carry the same forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Christ.
From an humanistic point of view, we see everything from a relativistic approach. But relative to what? If the smallest sin carries the same weight and punishment as the greatest, then what’s the difference? On the flip side, neither the smallest nor the most outrageous ‘good deed’ does anything to offset the sin. We can’t do enough good to offset our sin. It’s impossible.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9)
It really is that simple. Whether you hear a booming voice saying believe, or you hear a soft voice of a friend say believe, it doesn’t matter. Once you simple accept that Christ is Lord, and confess this, you are saved. “Your sins (past present and future) are forgiven” (1 John 2:12).