by Mark Robinson
Millions of Americans own their home. At least that is what they tell people. In actuality, most do NOT own their home. If they owned their home, they would not have to make payments each month to lenders for their right to live there. I own the pair of shoes I am wearing right now, and since I own them, I do not have to pay Nike $10 a month for the right to wear my shoes. Not continuing to pay for something, in my mind, is the definition of owning it. Given this definition, how can we say that millions of Americans who make payments on their houses each month own their houses? Based on my other experiences in ownership, this just doesn’t make sense.
Home ownership is a funny concept in this day and age. With the rise in housing costs and the urbanization boom that has swept over the country in the past hundred years, the home mortgage has become a necessary step to many people having a place to live. Banks are willing to loan out money equal to the value of a home to qualified buyers, under the assumption that the buyer will pay back this money over a fixed period of time plus interest.
Most people today have grown up with an understanding of what a mortgage is, and the role it plays in helping people move into a home today that they would not ever be able to afford otherwise. Since we have grown up in a mortgage culture, is it possible that the concept of a mortgage has infected our understanding of salvation? Here is what I mean. . .
I believe that there are many people today who practically view salvation as a spiritual mortgage transaction. Understanding the notion that all people are sinful and separated from God, we have come to know none of us have the personal righteousness in our bank account to please a holy God. Therefore, we understand the need for a giant deposit of righteousness to be made into our spiritual account from Jesus Christ in order to “get us in” to a relationship with God today, even if we could not “afford” it on our own. The rest of our lives, we make daily, weekly, monthly, or annual “paybacks” to Jesus through our devotion that help to “keep us into” our relationship with God. Taking this analogy to its very end, we believe that if we ever stop making our weekly payments to God through church attendance, good deeds, partaking in communion, etc., that we would then be evicted from the good graces of God, and see our eternal security foreclosed on by our God, the lender. This is a crude analogy, and somewhat of an overstatement, but I believe at our core, many of us today are living our lives with a spiritual mortgage mindset.
So what is the problem with this mortgage mindset? At one level it seems to makes sense to us. At the most important level, however, it is just flat out heresy. Our God is not a lender, He is a giver. Salvation is not something we pay back, it is something He paid for. We are not in debt to God, we are heirs of His great promises! This is quite a switch.
In Romans 3, we see this played out in vivid detail. After spending the better part of the first three chapters of the book of Romans convincing mankind that we are all sinful, Paul concludes in Romans 3:9, “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” Paul goes on to let us know that our need before God is not partial, but total. Our salvation is not 20% us and 80% God. Since our need is total, our salvation needs to be 100% God’s gift to us. The great news of the gospel is that God was willing to provide 100% of the funds for our salvation, and not require us to pay it back (which is great, because we could never “afford it”.) Romans 3:25-26 say it this way, “God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” The price of our home in heaven is 100% paid for by Christ on the cross! This gift is truly a gift, as Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” In other words, we do not pay back the deposit of righteousness that Christ places in our spiritual accounts the moment we trust in Him. We merely receive this as an unbelievable gift!
Take a moment and think through your perspective about the Christian life. Do you view your relationship with God as a free gift, or as a 70 year mortgage? Do you see your sin (past, present, and future) as paid for or still requiring further payment by you? Do you realize the full extent of the blessings you have been given in Christ? If you have trusted in Christ, your salvation is paid for . . . you are completely forgiven.
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