“On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand…” ~Edward Mote
I’m surrounded by thousands of folks who love Jesus, love the church and believe that the strong centrality of the gospel and God’s Word is of utmost importance for the glory of Christ and the growth of his Church. Things are about to kick off here in Orlando, Florida for the Gospel Coalition Conference. I have the privilege of being here with Gary Inrig who has played a huge role in my life over the past 17 years, bringing me to an understanding of the gospel and love for Christ and his church and his Word. I treasure all of the above and I come to this conference hungry and thirsty and ready to be filled!
Last week I experienced a very clear illustration of the gospel that I’d like to share. Unfortunately it was due to poor judgment on my part, but nevertheless, here it is. I took my family on vacation up to Pismo Beach to camp for 3 days. The first night we found out that our camping fees gave us access to drive out on the beach, the only beach in California that allows this. So we joyfully headed out after dinner in our Odyssey. It was amazing to drive within a few feet of the surf washing up on the sand. Julie got out and snapped a few photos. It was pure bliss for a while. Of course my personality demands “the whole experience” so I wanted to go all the way to the end. As I got further off the beaten track and unbeknownst to me, further up the beach because it was high tide, I noticed that I was beginning to lose traction. I panicked. There was no way to turn around and I knew if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to reverse. I had no choice but to stop as the car was barely creeping forward by this time. The front of the car sunk down to the frame. I was stuck. I prayed for wisdom in how to get unstuck, and I quickly remembered to let some air out of my tires. I used my floor mats to get some traction. Still I wasn’t very hopeful that I could go anywhere if I got unstuck. Perhaps I could move a little closer to the surf to get firmer sand. Bad idea! Now I was really stuck and I had literally buried the front end of my car in the sand. The surf was washing around my car as I stood there, heart pounding in my chest. I felt like a fool! At this moment I prayed to God for help. I did actually think of the gospel correlation at that moment as well, which is odd. I was powerless to do anything to get myself out of this situation. I needed a savior. A few minutes later they came in a white 4X4 truck with a towrope. Graciously they hooked onto my rear hitch and pulled me backwards, back to terra firma and turned me around so I could safely get home. Humbled, but deeply grateful I thanked them and I thanked the Lord for the rescue. I’ve recently read that the gospel story includes 4 parts, the Creation, the Fall, the Rescue, and the Restoration. Getting stuck correlates to the Fall, and we all must come to grips sometime that we are stuck in sin (the Bible says we are dead in our sins.) The good news, the defining moment of the gospel, is that we are made alive in Christ.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” (Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV)
We are saved when we by faith accept that there is nothing we can do on our own to rescue ourselves from God’s righteous judgment, his wrath concerning our sins. Dead people can’t do anything. God did it all in Christ on the cross for us. I am only saved when I believe in Christ and receive God’s gift of grace – simple as that. Thank you Lord for the rescue!