It really gets on my nerves when people complicate salvation. Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is simple. You don't have to make promises, or go out and clean yourself up. You don't need to understand perfection or even desire anything but to be close to God. You certainly don't have to be a Bible scholar or even know anything about the Bible. "Just as you are", is how the invitation reads:
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ." (Colossians 2:13, NIV84)
I think that "when" is a very important point for us to stress. The "when" represents every moment of every day of our life. That "when" is constantly happening, taking place in the coffee shop, on the bus, in the mall. It is happening all around us which means salvation also belongs in those places. Salvation is not something reserved for our Sunday services but is available at any moment a person turns to Jesus.
We cannot emphasize enough the point that God has taken care of all those sins. Too many people turn to Jesus hoping for a little relief but God gives the full body treatment. There is no need to pick up the guilt of our sins ever again, they are gone. There is no need to relive those days in our thoughts again and again, they are forgotten:
"He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:14, NIV84)
Note: all our sins. Also note how he did it: by cancelling the written code. He hasn't done that for everyone. He has not removed his perfect law so that no one will be condemned. He has done that for those who accept Jesus. It is hard to be accused of something when there is no law. You can't be accused of jay walking if there is no law against jay walking. That is God's grace. That is what he has done for those who choose Jesus. The sin has been removed because the regulation has been removed.
I came across this image the other day as I was reading through the Bible. I have read it hundreds of times but something on that day made it stand out to me:
"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord , and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord , who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?' Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, 'Take off his filthy clothes.' Then he said to Joshua, 'See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.'" (Zechariah 3:1-4 NIV84)
This is what has been done for us through Jesus Christ. Satan can accuse all he wants but those sins have been cancelled, removed, thrown away, forgotten, covered by God's grace in a perfect and complete manner. We are covered by the covenant of Jesus' blood which means the regulations have been cancelled and do not apply to us.
Of course this does not mean we get to do what we want. We could but if we continue in rebellion to God it means we remain as slaves to sin. But our response to Jesus for what he has done is not to continue in rebellion but instead to run to him with arms wide open. We embrace our King and choose to follow him all our days. We gladly obey the one who has paid the price for our peace and for bringing us into the experience of such incredible love.
There is nothing complicated about the love of our Father and there is nothing complicated about the salvation he has arranged for us. Simply turn to Jesus and he will guide you in his love.