My Story (Part 3)
November 1, 2016
Welcome to part three of Emanuel Schrock’s true life story.
3. The Answer
One day, I was listening to a man preach from the book of Hebrews. I was at the point where I was desperate to know the truth. I had worn myself out trying to please God, and I still didn’t have peace. I listened to the words being preached, and I was ready to let the Bible say what it wanted to say to me. I was done with trying to figure out what I needed to do; I was ready to just listen. I had tried all that I knew, and all that I had to show for it was a history of failing and a bleak and miserable future of unending efforts that would only serve to ease my conscience while I waited in vain for the miracle of salvation.
At times, I thought that perhaps I must resign myself to hell, but the very thought of that drove me in anguish to grab on to the only lifeline I knew: to pray and beg God to save me until my conscience was eased, so that at least if I did end up in hell, God couldn’t blame me for it, since I had tried my very best.
I knew it was a weak and fragile thread, but I hung on to it. I knew that everything I had tried so far hadn’t worked, but I didn’t dare let go. My soul hung suspended over the lake of fire, and there was no way I would allow myself not to do something about it. I longed for something new to present itself, some method of salvation so powerful and effective that it would swallow up all the methods I had unsuccessfully tried. I longed for some means of salvation that was so high and powerful that my own efforts would not be able to interfere with its effectiveness.
As I listened to the words of the Bible from the book of Hebrews, I thought that perhaps there was just such a method of salvation available.
The man was preaching from Hebrews chapter 10, which talks about how the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins in the Old Testament, because God had no pleasure in them. Something greater than animal sacrifices was needed to take away our sins.
Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
In the previous verses in this chapter, the writer of Hebrews pointed out that if the Old Testament sacrifices had been able to take away sins, they would not have needed to be repeated each year. The thousands of bloody sacrifices made each year for the sins of the people could only make a temporary payment; they could never take away the full penalty of sins or clear the consciences of the people.
As the preacher explained the meaning of the passage, I suddenly realized something: I wasn’t included in the passage. My performance and experience weren’t part of the equation in the flow of the argument. My attention was drawn outward, away from myself and my efforts, to an event with which my performance could not interfere. I suddenly realized that my response and my actions would not change anything in the outcome of what the passage was about to present. Whether I was a good person or not, the events these verses were talking about were independently true and real, regardless of my condition or feelings. No matter what efforts or lack of efforts I would invest, I could not change the truth about the events in the passage and the authority that the Bible gave to them. Hebrews 10 continues:
5 Wherefore when he (Jesus) cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Again, my attention and my line of reasoning were drawn to something outside of my personal experience. Slowly, hardly daring to, I pushed aside the question of my problem of sin, and I focused on the argument.
My attention was drawn to two different realities in the argument: one, an ancient system of blood sacrifices that failed to provide a perfect payment for sin; and two, the Son of God who had been given a body so that He could come into the world to replace that system. I and my own experience were not included in either of these realities.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.
All my life I had tried to do God’s will, and I had failed. But here was a Man who had arrived on the scene two thousand years ago, and while all men before and after him have failed, He claimed to have had done the perfect will of God.
8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
Now I saw that the whole question of whether or not my sins could be forgiven did not depend upon me. I was too far gone to do anything about my lost condition. Rather, my forgiveness and salvation depended on whether or not this Man would succeed in His mission of earning complete and perfect salvation that would have the power to save me from my sin. If He would fail, then there was no hope for me, no matter what I did or didn’t do.
10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Interpreted in German:
10 “In velchem villen vir sind geheiliget, Einmal geshehen durch das opfers des Leibes Jesu Christi.”
It hit me that the reason Christ had come into the world in a physical body was so He could offer His body as a sacrifice for my sins. The words brought a ray of hope to my soul. This sounded like something that God would accept on my behalf, because it was something that He had come up with, not me. And if He had come up with it, then surely He would be satisfied with it. Suddenly it hit me that while I had been trying to make myself holy and acceptable to God, He had already done what it took to make me righteous by allowing His Son to offer up His body for me on the cross. A feeling of relief came over me as I realized that it was not my holiness that made me right with God, but it was the fact that Jesus offered His body to make me holy. The work required for my salvation shifted from my hands into God’s hands, and that felt so much better, because He knew what was required, and He alone was able to do it. And the amazing thing was, He had already done the work by having Jesus die on the cross.
“Once for all. . . .”
The words carried a powerful force of persuasion. Since Jesus was perfect and He was the one who was offered for my sins, then only one sacrifice was required, and nothing more was needed. My sins had been paid for by Jesus Christ Himself! My own efforts were useless, because Jesus had already done everything that was needed for my sins to be forgiven.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
The priests in the Old Testament had to offer hundreds of sacrifices every day for the sins of the people, and even that could not take away their sins.
12 But this man, (Jesus) after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Once again, the words of the Bible hit home. The words once and forever kept coming up: Once for all. . . . One sacrifice for sins forever. . . . By one offering. . . . Slowly the truth dawned on me. Christ had made one sacrifice for my sins, and that was all it took. Nothing more was needed to pay for my sins, because He had finished the job. I could do nothing to add to His sacrifice to make it better. I suddenly realized that all the months and years of trying to please God by living a good Christian life had absolutely no value in paying for my sins. I realized that while I had been waiting on God to forgive my sins and save me, He had already paid for my sins through the sacrifice of Jesus, and He was waiting on me to believe it. The problem had not been that God did not want to save me; the problem was that I was so busy trying to live a good life to impress God that I didn’t have time to accept what He had already done for me.
I now saw and understood that my salvation was sure and secure because it rested on what Jesus had done, not what I did. As time went on and I continued to study the Bible, I became more and more convinced and persuaded of this. There were many times when I took my eyes off Christ and His sacrifice and tried to keep God happy by being a good Christian. Every time, though, I would come to the point where I would once again long for the peace that came from simply trusting in Jesus, and I would return to the cross, where I was guaranteed to have freedom. All my life I had been taught that I had to be a good person to please God, and now I had to retrain my mind to understand that my goodness could never be good enough.
It took some time for me to learn how to live in this new reality of depending upon the work of Jesus instead of upon my own works. Often in desperation I went back to the Bible, again looking for the answer, and every time it pointed me to Jesus. Slowly, I learned to walk by faith in Jesus, to trust Him day by day as all that I needed to stand before God.
As I grew in this faith, I became more and more confident and bold in Christ, and I learned how to stand strong in faith against the doubt and fear that kept trying to come into my heart. I learned to love Jesus more and more, and as I followed Him and continued to believe Him, I discovered that sin, although it was still as much of a temptation as before, was losing its power over me.
Today, I testify that I have peace with God because of Jesus Christ. I can look death square in the face and not be afraid of it, because Jesus has gone before me into death and has taken the keys of death from Satan. He has finished all the work that was required to pay for my sins and to get me into heaven, into the very presence of God.
He is sitting at God’s right hand, praying for me before the Father, waiting for me to arrive safely in heaven. I do not have to simply hope that I will be lucky enough to make it; I know I will make it, not because I lived a good enough life, but because Jesus made a good enough sacrifice for me. I do not trust in my own righteousness; I trust in the righteousness of God, given to me on my behalf.
John 3:35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
To order a free copy of My Story—in booklet form—please contact the Amish Voice at (419) 962-1515, or send a note to P.O. Box 128, Savannah OH 44874.
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