The Texas sun was working overtime as I led my small group of youngsters outside for Bible study. For several days, we had read and prayed together under the elegant branches of a live oak tree. Drawn to the truth of God's Word, Jacob, a ten year old boy, had many questions. “How many times do I have to say this prayer? Do I say it every day? How do I know that God will hear me?” Jacob wondered curiously. Longing to please God, Jacob wanted to be sure he was doing everything right.
Gently, I looked gently into Jacob's eyes and assured him, “Christ died once. Then He rose again. That was enough to conquer sin. Likewise, we surrender once and forevermore we are His. Just once.” My heart rejoiced as Jacob prayed for God's forgiveness and received Christ into His young heart. Visibly, a peace came over him, as Jacob now rested in God’s promise of restoration and reconciliation found in Christ alone.
So many of us are like that sweet, young boy. Gripped with uncertainty, we desperately seek to please God as we strive to earn His approval. Foolishly, we fail to trust God, and instead strive to earn His free gift of grace.
Yet scripture teaches us that "Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18 NLT) The simple truth is forgiveness is all about Jesus and what He has already done. For "Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people." (Hebrews 9: 28 NIV).
Once, God sent His son to redeem man. Once, Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, died for the sins of all mankind. Once, He rose again and then sat down at the right hand of the Father. (Mark 16:19 NIV) And once, we surrender our hearts, claim His unmerited gift of salvation and rest in His mercy and grace. It just takes once.