You meet them all of the time at church. You give your testimony of how God worked in you to give you a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then it becomes their turn and they say, “I was saved 2000 years ago.” In most cases that effectively does a variety of things. In their eyes, it diminishes your conversion story, but it really doesn’t. It shuts down the conversation, because by continuing the conversation an argument might start. Arguments rarely lead anyone to Jesus. Jesus’ Love leads people to Him, not an argument with raised voices. But it also speaks volumes to the distance that the person taking about 2000 years has with Jesus. Jesus is the person that they call their savior. For someone who truly believes in Jesus, your Savior is someone close to you, because He came into your life on that special day when the Holy Spirit led you to repent of your sins and follow Jesus. But their savior is someone who died 2000 years ago. Did He rise from the dead? Maybe. Does it matter? Yes, to you it matters, but to them, it may or may not. Who really cares what happened that long ago? Do you care what clothing you wore a week ago? Do you care what you ate for dinner a year ago? Why would an event 2000 years ago be significant in your life if there was nothing else to it?
This doesn’t mean that the person with whom you are talking is not saved. They could be. They could have repented of their sins and continue to ask for forgiveness as other things happen in their lives making them aware of deeper sins. But many in the church today want to use the event on the cross 2000 years ago as a cure all. And many in the church do not trust the other people in the church. They may have a testimony, but they feel comfortable putting you in an awkward position while they remain in their place of anonymity and comfort.
The following is attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.
Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgiveness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacraments; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without cost…
Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, as principle, as system. It means forgiveness of sins as a general truth; it means God’s love as merely a Christian idea of God. Those who affirm it have already had their sins forgiven. The church that teaches this doctrine of grace thereby conveys such grace upon itself. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins, for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be free. Cheap grace is, thus, denial of God’s living Word, denial of the incarnation of the word of God.
Even within churches that do not preach cheap grace, you find people who believe it. They want the assurance of salvation, but they don’t want God interfering with their lives. Once a week, for an hour is sometimes too much. Having a relationship that involves communication on a daily basis? That’s ridiculous!
Communication on a daily basis is not enough when you love Jesus with all of your heart. Every minute of every day is hard to accomplish, but I have had God nudge me in business meetings to remind me that the boss was about to do something immoral or in some cases illegal. The nudge was for me to step into the fray. Try to redirect the conversation without the boss losing face.
To explain, my boss’ boss called me into his office to ask me about my expense report. He asked me where the alcohol was hidden. According to him, I had done a masterful job of hiding it. He was a master at finding it, and he couldn’t. (There was a rule that you couldn’t be reimbursed for your bar tab.) I told him that I didn’t drink, thinking that one glass of wine every other year was ‘not drinking.’ He then winked and explained that people in his position know the tricks that they had used when they were coming up through the ranks. He then gave me an assignment that was a career killer. He said, “Your boss is a good man. He is where he is because he can think outside the box. He has a great imagination, but he has one flaw. He has no conscience. I want you to be his conscience. Try to keep him out of jail.”
I had a company president thirty years later tell me that my job as the Safety Director for the company was to keep him out of jail. As I nodded and walked back to my office, I said a little prayer, “Okay, Lord, here we go again.”
You see. When Jesus is in your heart, you are NOT saved 2000 years ago. You are saved every minute of every day. There is not enough time in this life to express all of the ‘Thank Yous’, but there will be one day.