I’ve been convicted in recent times as to how to answer the question “Why are you a Christian?” It’s common to hear answers in which people appeal to their decisions, praying a prayer, being in a Christian home or the fact that they’re baptised.
With that in mind let us look at Judges Chapter two. Long story longer, the nation of Israel had entered into a land which had been promised several generations beforehand to the Patriarch (someone God used to establish the nation of Israel) Abraham. But things took a turn for the worse (again) when Israel turned from God, forgot what He had done for them (Judges 2:10; Psalm 106:34-46) and served the false god’s of the Canaanites (Judges 2:11-13). In His anger (yes, God gets angry) “…he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies so that they could no longer withstand them … and they were in great distress (Judges 2:14-15 – Emphasis added).
Here is where I want to focus. The nation of Israel was rebelling against God and was in great distress. What happens next is fascinating and has the heart of the Gospel plastered all over it. Judges 2:16: “Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them.” (Emphasis added). God did this because “[He] was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.” (Judges 2:18). Let’s note that Israel did not apply any formula or ritual in order for God to act. They didn’t give their hearts to God or pray a simple prayer. They had not even yet repented! God was merely moved to pity and out of his grace he saved them. The only thing Israel contributed was their sinful rebellion that made their salvation necessary.
It’s the same with us. Look at Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you were dead in the trespasses of your sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying our the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Emphasis added). So, just as Israel was actively rebelling against God and unable to save themselves, so were we. We were disobedient, dead to God, actively seeking out our sinful desires. This kind of person cannot choose God – they don’t want to choose God. Let’s read on, “BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:4-5 – Emphasis added). And as to drive the point home Paul writes again three verses later, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Just as God unexpectedly and without invitation saved Israel from their desired enslavement he has saved us from our desired enslavement to sin. He saved us. We’re not Christians because we decided to be by opening our hearts to Jesus, praying a prayer or raising a hand during an alter call. No. We’re Christians because God, in his loving mercy invaded our lives and saved us from our sinful rebellion towards him and made us righteous which led us to repentance. To claim we had any part in being united with Christ is to declare that we fulfilled a requirement or law that God then rewarded. That’s legalism. And nobody likes a Pharisee 😉
So, next time someone asks me why I’m a Christian I think a good answer will be: “Because of what God did”.