Recently a footnote in a book I was reading pointed me to an article with a puzzling title: “God Does Not Justify Sinners by Grace Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone to Make Salvation Easy for Us.” The article was published on August 31, 2010 at the gospel coalition website. The author is Thabiti Anyabwile.
He starts out by indicating the position he rejects: “We sometimes seem to be saying to sinners, ‘You see, God has made it easy for you. Just believe.’ Or, “It’s not what you do. Christ has done it for you. Just repent and accept Christ.”
He indicates that there are three ways in which salvation is not easy.
First, the purchase of our salvation was not easy. “Christ purchased our salvation with His own blood.” Amen.
Second, salvation “is not easily obtained.” Really? Instead of speaking of believing in Jesus, Anyabwile says, “There is taking up the cross and dying with Christ…It is costly to follow Jesus.” Odd that he is discussing justification by faith alone and yet in the section of his article dealing with obtaining justification before God, he talks about works.
Third, salvation “is not easily maintained.” Maintained? This is a Calvinist website. I thought Calvinists believed in eternal security. Yet Anyabwile says, “Only those who overcome, who persevere in faith until the end, will receive the Reward [of salvation]…This is not achieved while rolling over again and again on our beds, while drinking in the poisons of sinful entertainments, or giving ourselves to unrighteousness…Persevering to the end is not easy.”
He ends the article saying, “Press on toward the high calling; discipline your body; persevere until the end; run to win the crown. You won’t lose in Christ, even if it is not easy.”
I’m scratching my head right now, literally and figuratively. That sounds like what a Roman Catholic would say. Or Church of Christ. Or Eastern Orthodox.
Arminians often say things like that. But now Calvinists do too.
Dr. Ryrie used to suggest that it is not so easy to believe that a Man who lived and died 2,000 years ago has the ability to give everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him. He pointed out that most do not believe that. How can that be easy believism if very few people even in Christianity believe that?
So is it easy to believe in Jesus for everlasting life? I suppose it depends on how you were raised. But if it is hard, it is not hard because we must persevere in good works. It is not hard because we must work hard to obtain it and to maintain it. It would only be hard because so few people actually believe it is true.
Anyabwile was being too polite when he said that some seem to say: “You see, God has made it easy for you. Just believe.” That is what we say. We also say, “It’s not what you do. Christ has done it for you.” Of course, we do not say, “‘Just repent and accept Christ.’” We say, “Just believe in Jesus for everlasting life.”
While what he wrote is sad, it is also highly motivating. As I read that I saw afresh why our witness is so important. We are like salmon swimming against the rush of water. It is hard to buck the current.
Obtaining everlasting life may be hard or easy. But the only way to obtain is to believe in Jesus Christ for it. That may be hard for you to believe. But that is all that is needed to obtain everlasting life.
Maintaining everlasting life is not simply easy. It is a done deal. Once you believed in Jesus for everlasting life, you became eternally secure. You cannot do anything to maintain it. God guarantees that all who believe in Jesus have everlasting life and will never perish.
What is sometimes hard is proclaiming the free gift of everlasting life to a world that only wants everlasting life on its own terms. But some do get it. We do lead some to faith in Christ. And there is so much joy for them and for us when they get it.
Thank you, Lord.