By Joe Serge
I emigrated to Canada in 1955 when I was 18. Many experiences
have come and gone in the past 50 years Iíve lived in this country
so far away from the quiet upper Sliema neighborhood (in Malta) that
I knew as a boy. But the one experience I treasure most of all
happened to me just eight years ago.
I was about to turn 60. By Godís sheer grace alone my eyes were
opened and I became aware that nothing I could say or do could get
me to heaven. Only Calvaryís cross could pay my sinsí debt in
full. Only Christís precious blood has the power to justify me Ė
make me just as if I never sinned.
I remember as if it were yesterday. My born again experience was
triggered one September morning shortly after daybreak. Stirred from
sound sleep, I had stepped out of bed and, coffee cup in one hand
and the TV remote in the other, switching channels, looking for
something to watch. Nothing seemed to interest me. I had flipped
through more than 40 channels when a religious program caught my
attention. It was Faith 20, a telecast of the Christian Reformed
Church in North America.
Here was the program host, Joel Nederhood, telling me that I
could be certain of eternal life in glory but it had nothing to do
with prayers, penance or good works. Only because of Christís
saving work on Calvaryís cross. ďFor it is by grace through
faith that we are saved, and this is the gift of God, not by works,
that no one may boastĒ (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
I became intrigued by the good news of a gospel I had never heard
before. As I began to watch the daily early morning program, I
discovered that much of what I had been taught to believe in my
childhood was not found in the Bible. I learned that unless I was
born-again, anything I offer to God in prayer is like a filthy rag
to Him, contaminated by my carnal depravity and unacceptable to His
standard of perfection.
On my own merit I couldnít get an inch closer to Heavenís
gates. Only Jesusí precious blood will do. What an awesome feeling
to discover that in accepting Jesus as my personal Savior, I became
a new creature in Godís eyes.
Iím not the man I used to be. When God looks at me He sees me
cloaked in the righteousness of His Son. He sees me blameless, just
like Jesus. I am hid in Christ, not having my own righteousness, but
the righteousness of God, credited to me through the faith of
Christ. I am saved and set apart for eternal glory. No one can
snatch me out of His hands. Yes, I remain a sinner, but a sinner
saved by grace.
As a Roman Catholic I considered myself to be a follower of Jesus
Christ. After all, my parents and countless generations before them
were Catholic from birth. I attended Sunday Mass without fail,
scrupulously observed days of fasting and abstinence and dutifully
confessed my sins to a priest. I cherished holy relics, prayed the
rosary, made charitable donations, served on the parish council and
for more than 40 years I was a member of the Knights of Columbus. I
believed such good works weighed in my favor before God. But I didnít
Today I know that on the cross Jesus took my sins upon Himself.
That is the significance of Calvaryís cross! For my sake Jesus had
experienced the horror of Godís wrath for sin, separation from the
Father, hell! Ė that I may be freed from the punishment I
deserved. ďAll we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned
every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity
of us allĒ (Isaiah 53:6).
By His sheer grace, Christís perfect sacrifice is credited to
me. I was bought with a price. Jesus paid my ransom. It is finished.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.
(How Deep the Fatherís Love for Us, Stuart Townend)