What are the benefits of trusting in Jesus Christ?
If you are a Christian, it is likely that you have considered this question quite a bit. Perhaps you have even been asked this question by a curious or skeptical non-Christian. It seems that this is the key question with which we are faced on a daily basis, especially in a world where there are so many options.
Indeed, we are surrounded by a dizzying array of options in virtually every aspect of life. Perhaps you are looking for something to make you feel better about yourself–a sense of purpose, value, and accomplishment. If so, you might decide to devote yourself to advancing in your career or taking up a hobby. Perhaps you are looking for companionship and a sense of belonging. If so, you can join always join some sort of club. Whatever you are into, there’s sure to be some organization consisting of people who share your interests. Or if that doesn’t do the trick, you can focus your efforts on finding and marrying that perfect man or woman you’ve always dreamed of.
Or maybe you want to make a real difference in the world. If that’s the case, then you can get involved with supporting politicians who agree with you. Or you can donate money to various non-profit charities around the world. Or perhaps you have a deeper, darker problem for which you need help. Anger. Depression. Addiction. If so, there is a host of solutions available for you, including therapists, counselors, retreats, medications, books, videos, seminars, and 12-step programs.
The point is, there are so many options out there for virtually every aspect of life, that it is vital that we who follow Christ are crystal-clear as to why the gospel–the message of God’s salvation plan through Jesus Christ–is infinitely more valuable and effective than anything else human beings have ever seen, experienced, or imagined. Otherwise, Christianity might appear to us as nothing more than just one more option on the enormous buffet of life’s solutions.
This brings us back to our original question: What are the benefits of trusting in Jesus Christ?
To be certain, the benefits of following Christ are infinite in number. Were we to attempt to make an exhaustive list, we could fill libraries and yet never come close to grasping the full scope of everything God has freely given us in Christ. However, we can look to the Bible and find three basic categories of benefits for followers of Christ: past grace (redemption), present grace (sanctification), and future grace (restoration).
As far as I can tell, most evangelicals today seem to have a pretty firm grasp on the past and future aspects of the gospel. Just consider your own perspective on the benefits of trusting Christ. If you are like most other evangelicals, you probably tend to focus almost entirely on what faith in Jesus Christ means for your past and your future. Specifically, you celebrate two great realities:
- Redemption: Jesus died on the cross, bearing your guilt and satisfying God’s holy wrath so that God would have mercy on you, for Christ’s sake, and forgive you of all you past rebellion. No more guilt or condemnation. Only grace and forgiveness!
- Restoration: Jesus rose from the dead, and one day he will return to raise all his faithful followers to eternal life, and he will restore everything that has been broken by sin. No more suffering and death. Only worship and joy!
The church has done a great job in emphasizing the past forgiveness and future restoration that have been secured for us in Christ. The Bible is rife with promises of redemption and restoration for everyone who trusts in Jesus. Moreover, we should celebrate these wonderful truths and cling to them daily as reminders of the powerful hope we have in Christ.
Still, there is one aspect of gospel hope that is all too easy for us to overlook: the present grace of sanctification. What is sanctification all about? Simply put, God has promised us that if we trust in Jesus, then we have real hope and real power right now! We can fight our sin and experience true victory, because Christ has freed us from being controlled by our temptations and failures. We can have deep, genuine joy even while we are surrounded by suffering and difficult circumstances. Why? Because Christ has freed us from being defined by our circumstances. For followers of Christ, God uses everything–including failure and suffering–for our good.
This is the gospel here and now.
Not surprisingly, the Bible is filled with wonderful promises of present hope for Christians. Here is a passage that really gets to the heart of God’s practical provision for us in Christ here and now:
His divine nature has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
- 2 Peter 1:3-4
Peter’s point here is clear. God has equipped us with everything we need to live joyfully and courageously in this world as reflections of his own holy character. And how has God equipped us? By his divine nature–the Holy Spirit–living in us and giving us wisdom and power to change and grow more in the likeness of Jesus.
This is the gospel here and now. Whether you are dealing with lingering failures, a difficult relationship, a lost loved one, or anything else, you can experience real hope, real joy, and real change. The bad news is that you cannot do it alone. The good news is that it is all available to you right now if you will trust in Jesus Christ.