Again, my simple thesis is that Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind. A related thesis is that salvation is without condition and a free act of God’s grace, given by him to chosen mankind. This salvation is not conditioned on any work, action, thought, or choice of man. God has given grace to all mankind without our invitation or pre-condition. This salvation cannot be missed, ruined, or lost, since God himself secures the beginning, middle, and end. The inception and finale of salvation is God. The result is guaranteed.
This is incredibly optimistic. Christ's salvation is the only source of confidence and peace. He is the foundation to build your life upon. Unfortunately, the message is often clouded by hasty conclusions, poor interpretations, divided opinions, incomplete understandings, and inaccurate Bible translations. Sin itself obscures the message of salvation at times, though God's Word is not obscure. God has spoken truth and love to reach both our minds and our hearts.
Perhaps that is one reason for the apparent obscurity. God could have given the Bible in the form of an encyclopedia or a step-by-step guide to salvation. That may have been clearer to our minds. We could easily memorize the outline and the steps. The knowledge would be locked in our minds, but the heart of salvation would be missed. God does want to explain the gospel to our minds, but he also is determined to share his love with our hearts. He is more than a teacher to us. He is our lover. If we read the Bible as notes from our teacher, we will miss God's heart. The Bible is not just a textbook for salvation, but also history, prose, poetry, and song. The Bible is God's love letters to our hearts.
Love is a common desire worldwide. Why would anyone ever refuse God's love? Why is there even one non-Christian in the world? If Jesus is so good, why isn't everyone cheering for the Son of God? Why argue with the idea that God has chosen to love you, me, and all mankind, in Jesus Christ? Can we name one valid objection to Jesus Christ? Did Jesus ever wrong one person? Can we see one imperfection in his words or actions?
Consider this dialogue between Peter and Jesus in Luke 5:1-11 (WEB).
1) Now while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. 2) He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3) He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. 4) When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.'
5) Simon answered him, 'Master, we worked all night, and took nothing; but at your word I will let down the net.' 6) When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking. 7) They beckoned to their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. They came, and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8) But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.' 9) For he was amazed, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had caught; 10) and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, 'Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive.' 11) When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.
This story shows that we really do not want God to get close to our hearts. We are afraid, and hide our sin from his eyes. Peter asked Jesus to leave because Jesus' holiness convicted him and made him uncomfortable. I suggest that atheism and false religion share a similar motivation to Peter's. We build defenses that keep us at a "safe" distance from God. Atheists choose the lie that God does not exist to keep him away. The religious choose a veneer of self-righteousness to shield themselves from God's gaze, while clinging to their fire insurance policies. If we dare to take a step closer to him, we dress ourselves up, hoping to hide our sin. We know we have done bad things and so we are uncomfortable around Jesus because he is good. We are just like our fallen parents, Adam and Eve, who tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden.
Since we hide from God, special tactics beyond education are needed to defeat unbelief and reach the heart of sinners hiding from God's love.
However, there is no hiding from God, even if we pretend that he does not exist. One day we each will stand before him. I pray that God will use this book to conquer our opposition to Jesus, our fear of exposure, and our doubt about his love and forgiveness. The climax of God's love for mankind is seen in perfect measure at the cross. The cross fully exposed our hatred of God when we crucified Christ. However, the cross also displayed God's flood of forgiveness through Jesus' willing death for our sins. Jesus prayed from the cross in Luke 23:34b (WEB): "Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing." That is the proclamation of forgiveness and salvation for you, me, and all mankind.
The initial pages of this book lay the groundwork for a thorough explanation of my thesis by introducing important concepts, reviewing my previous articles, and beginning at the end with the grand conclusion of Christian salvation found in Romans 11:32.