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Central UMC Blog

The Pastor's Corner: Matters of Creed: Forgiveness

Posted by Dr. Jan Davis on

The beliefs contained in the ancient creeds of the Church are foundational truths that are important to emphasize in every generation.  Evidently, some American Christians are conflicted regarding the truth of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ. 

A recent survey revealed that a majority of Americans do not believe Jesus is the path to salvation.  All that is required for eternal life is to be a good person.  The American Worldwide Inventory 2020 conducted by Arizona Christian University, under the direction of George Barna, revealed that nearly half of Christian respondents said they believe a person can attain salvation by “being or doing good.”  This included 44% of mainline protestants and 41% of evangelical Christians.

The Bible clearly reveals that belief in Jesus Christ is how we are saved and receive forgiveness for sin, attaining eternal life, yet nearly half of Christians remain uncertain. 

When it comes to sin, only 56% of Americans “consciously and consistently try to avoid sinning because sin breaks God’s heart.”  Only 33% of Christians believe they will go to heaven because they confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Others believe that doing good deeds in life can somehow make up for the bad things they have done.  This thinking seems logical to human minds, but it is not the message of scripture. 

The Bible teaches that the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23).  Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  All of us.  Due to humanity’s fall (Genesis 3), all humans are sinful and separated from a holy God who desires reconciliation.  We cannot save ourselves from sin through good deeds.  All the kindly acts in the world cannot cross the chasm created by sin.  We are saved solely by faith in Jesus Christ.   "The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22). 

God’s offer of forgiveness demonstrates how much he loves us.  We are not abandoned, we are not left condemned, we are not cut off without a way home.  God makes a way for restoration and new life.  That WAY is Jesus!  Love offers a fresh start, complete forgiveness, and an opportunity to put the past firmly behind us and strive forward in faith. 

Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice of atonement and his blood covers our sin.  The shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross means our sins can be forgiven and removed.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The night before Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha to suffer for us, he explained, “This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). 

The Apostle’s Creed includes the statement “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”  The Nicene Creed adds that Jesus Christ became human “for our salvation” expanding the concept of forgiveness.  Together they summarize what is going on between God and sinful humanity in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

The biblical way of salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. Through Christ’s suffering and death, our sins can be forgiven and removed “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).  This is the best news humanity has ever heard!  Salvation and eternal life are ours through this utterly amazing grace.  Keep sharing the good news so all may know the assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ!

Resources:

I Believe – Exploring the Apostle’s Creed, by Alister McGrath

Losing the Gospel, by Tom Lambrecht, Good News Magazine, September 14, 2020.

U.S. Christians Increasingly Departing from Core Truths of Christian Worldview, by Brandon Showalter, The Christian Post, August 9, 2020.

American Worldview Inventory 2020 – At a Glance, Arizona Christian Cultural Research Center, August 2020.

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