God’s Mercy: You Can’t Put a Number on It
“Salvation is not free. It’s free for us, but there was a huge cost…and the problem for us Christians is that sometimes, we forget how much Jesus paid [for our salvation].”Dr. Brian Baugus
Recently, my Economics professor Dr. Baugus taught a lesson about prices and connected it to God’s gift of salvation for those who believe in Him.
He taught that every time a consumer buys a good or service, his purchase always has a cost. A purchase requires more than just money from the consumer: it also requires sacrifices from producers. When a customer wants a loaf of bread, he needs the services of a farmer, a baker, a trucker, and a grocer to provide bread. These producers could use their time and work to produce something else (a pizza, a cake, etc.), but instead, they make sure that a single customer gets the loaf of bread he wants. In summary, while a consumer pays a monetary price for a good or service, the producers sacrifice their own time, work, and resources to satisfy the consumer.
At one point during the lesson, Dr. Baugus turned to my class and shared a brief comment in reference to the Christian faith: “Salvation is not free. It’s free for us, but there was a huge cost…and the problem for us Christians is that sometimes, we forget how much Jesus paid [for our salvation].”
I know the story of Christ’s crucifixion. I’ve heard many people say, “God’s love and mercy are infinite.” These people are undoubtedly right, but sometimes, the meaning of the word “infinite” seems so abstract to me that I don’t fully grasp the emotional impact of the word. Christ’s sacrifice cannot be reduced to only a matter of “exchange,” but as I think about my recent lesson on prices, I also think about the “price” of our salvation. Every purchase has a cost; every sin has a cost. However, when Christ bore “the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28), how many sins did He bear? How many times have we sinned against God? Was our salvation so expensive that only the death of God’s Son could pay for it?
The subject of sin is important because we have to understand why we needed Christ to save us. We must be honest with ourselves about our sinful nature and about the fact that sin eternally separates us from God.
Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine that you lived in a world where people only sinned once in their lives. In this imaginary world, you would do, say, or think only one sinful thing in your life. You would be almost perfect, right?
There are more than seven billion people alive on Earth today. Even if every person on Earth was almost perfect, we–the global population–would commit more than seven billion sins against a perfect God.
God is “merciful and gracious” (Psalm 86:15), and He even loves those who sin against Him. However, He is also a just God (89:14) and hates evil (5:4). The penalty of sin is death (Genesis 3:3; Romans 6:23), and sinners need a way to pay for their sins. However, God knows that we can’t save ourselves (Galatians 2:21), and this is why he sent his perfect and blameless Son down to Earth.
Thankfully, God’s love and mercy are infinite. Although humanity continually sins against Him, our Heavenly Father “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In obedience to His Father, Jesus also made sacrifices. He took the form of a human being and submitted Himself to a humiliating, excruciating death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). Jesus was not forced to die, but He willingly laid down His life for His people (John 10:18). It doesn’t make much sense that God should pay the price of our salvation, but Jesus’ death demonstrates how great and unfathomable God’s mercy is.
We can never count how many times we’ve sinned, but we can have faith that God will always love us. Moving forward, let us not forget the hope of our salvation or Christ’s self-sacrificial love for us. Jesus gave up His life so we could live with Him in Heaven. In the eyes of God, the price was worth it.