This Is the Gospel

Day 5: We Cannot Save Ourselves

Isaiah 24:1-6, Matthew 19:16-22, Romans 8:5-11, 18-25, Hebrews 7:26-28, Hebrews 9:22


While eating at a burger joint in our neck of Houston, my then two-year-old son decided it would be fun to run around the makeshift, cobbled together “playground”—its main feature being an old, rusty, hollowed-out school bus. As it was getting dark, he ran behind the bus to explore, and I immediately thought, There’s no telling what’s back there. I’d better go get him. His two-year-old legs were pumping fast, but I caught up with him just in time.

It was so dark behind the bus we couldn’t see what was on the ground right in front of us. So I used the flashlight on my phone to light my son’s path as he ran and laughed in the dark—but I saw trouble. A pile of jagged chunks of concrete lay just a few tiny strides away, but my young son didn’t see it. I semi-lunged to grab him as he began to fall headfirst into a pile of hospital bills. I scooped him up, jumped over the concrete, tweaked my ankle on the landing, and told him, “Look at that, buddy. I just saved your life.”

My son couldn’t save himself. Forget the fact that he didn’t yet have the muscles or agility to avoid what he was barreling toward; he didn’t even know he had a problem. This is our twofold dilemma also. We don’t possess the power to remove ourselves out of the path of God’s wrath, out of the power of sin, or out of the ways of the world. And it doesn’t even register with us that we have a problem—until the Lord opens our eyes.

When God shines the glorious light of the gospel through the person of Jesus Christ, that’s when we see. Our sins and their just judgment are illuminated, and we see there is hope in Christ alone. His death. His resurrection. His victory over our sin. Jesus rescues us from the damning dilemma. We can look to Christ with child-like faith and groan from our souls, “You saved my life.”

In this life the groaning never goes away completely. Our struggle with unbelief and and sin and weakness continues: ”We also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). But as followers of Jesus we have been given His Spirit to remind us of the gospel and to help us pray as we wait for Him to make all things new.

Written by J.A. Medders