The Greatest Lie of All

What is the greatest truth of all, the foundation of our Christian faith? Is it not the cross of Jesus Christ: the precious fact that the Son of God atoned for our sins on Calvary, and we have all been forgiven through His sacrifice?

What, then, would be the greatest lie of all? Wouldn't that be the outrageous claim that Jesus did not atone for our sins on Calvary and that we have not been forgiven through His sacrifice?

And yet, even if it may sound unthinkable, this is what most Christians and non-Christians have been told to believe since the beginning of the fifth century. That's when the highly esteemed Church Father Augustine presented a new approach to the cross: Jesus died for all men, but still, no one was redeemed, not at the time of the crucifixion. Sure, sins were to be forgiven because of Jesus, but only later on—by repentance, faith, and the holy sacraments administered by the Church. Thus, without a single theologian realizing what had happened, the forgiveness of sins became detached from the historical events on Calvary.

This revolutionary change—the time-shifting of the atonement—remained unnoticed throughout the centuries. And eventually, it was adopted into all of Western theology: Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed alike.

We cannot blame any theologian for this error, for it must be the father of lies behind all this. After all, who benefits the most if the true meaning of the cross is clouded? Who reaps the harvest if the Christians are too occupied with their sins to proclaim the Good News to the world?

I believe we will not see another great revival in Western countries until we return to the original gospel. We need to stop lying to people. We have absolutely no right to give anyone the impression that his sins have not yet been forgiven through the one-time sacrifice of Jesus. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:19)

On the other hand, we must also understand that this universal grace of forgiveness does not save any of us. "But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name: who were born not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)

Due to the complete forgiveness on the cross, we are now saved by faith alone as we receive Jesus into our hearts and lives.

 (Excerpt from RETURNING TO GRACE by Markku Sarento)