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  • Joseph Tkach

Cockroaches and Salvation

I know the Bible tells us that everything God created was good. But sometimes I wonder why it says that about cockroaches. Most of us think they are disgusting and want to get rid of them.

The trouble is, our world is literally infested with them. There are over 4000 species, thriving in climates all over the world, and they seem almost indestructible. They can live for weeks without food and if they have to, and they can survive on postage-stamp glue. They can withstand extreme heat and cold, and recover after 30 minutes underwater. No wonder it is hard to get rid of cockroaches.

They remind me of another invasive critter that is just as hard to get rid of. This is an idea – that infests not our kitchens and bathrooms – but our ideas of what we need to do to be saved.

Many see Christianity as a transaction. They believe Jesus was sacrificed, opening up the way to salvation. If we repent, believe the gospel, and then do enough good works, God will grant us eternal life. However, if we fail to live up to our side of the deal, we will die and spend eternity in a place of torment, separated forever from God’s love.

The problem is, we can never seem to get ahead. For every step forward, we take two steps back. The harder we work to fulfil our part of the bargain, the more hopeless it all seems. Salvation based on works is a formula for guilt, fear, and a constant sense of failure. But getting rid of that idea is like, well, it’s like trying to get rid of cockroaches. The idea of conditional salvation, based on our works, continues to survive.

But you don’t have to live with it. Salvation is God’s free gift. It is a rather unequal, one-sided transaction. Your salvation is paid for and is maintained by Jesus Christ. End of story!

Joseph Tkach - Speaking of Life

Joseph Tkach has been president of Grace Communion International since 1995. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Azusa Pacific University.

American cockroach image by Mike Keeling, and used under Creative Commons license.

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