Last week, a Facebook friend of mine posted the following quote from Protestant theologian J. Gresham Machen: “If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin.” First, I don’t know why any Christian would ever suggest that Christ provides only part of our salvation. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 4: 12), Peter had this to say: “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Yes, it’s 100% Christ.
The quote may be a subtle reference to the Catholic view that Christ opened the pearly gates of heaven through his death, but it remains for a person to repent and be free of sin at his/her death. However, repentance and forgiveness is also through grace given by Christ! In the first letter of John, Chapter 1, we read: “If we acknowledge our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.” (1 John 1:9). So yes, 100% Christ. Catholics believe that Christ instituted the sacrament of Confession for the purpose of receiving God’s grace and forgiveness: “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. (John 20:23).
Second, I take issue with his choice of the word “hopeless.” No human being is ever without hope, even under the load of sin! Christ stands at the ready to accept the acknowledgement mentioned above and to forgive our sins.
This coming Sunday, April 3, is “Divine Mercy Sunday” in the Catholic Church. It is a day set aside by the Church to let us know that this acknowledgement of our sins does indeed lead to forgiveness and salvation in Christ. It is fitting that it is the Sunday after Easter! Christ died for us, rose from the dead, and now, in his mercy, stands at the ready to forgive our sins. A very beautiful thought for this Thursday morning!
The photograph included with this post is of the empty tomb at the Shrine of the Passion in St. John, Indiana.