By: Tim Grissom
August 8th is my spiritual birthday; a few days ago, I celebrated 33 years in Christ. My physical birthday comes a few weeks later. Having these two days so close together is an annual reminder that (1) life is a vapor (James 4:14), and (2) new and better things are being prepared for me (John 14:2-3).

I always think of my spiritual birthday as my day of rescue, as if Christ pulled me out from beneath a pile of rubble. In many ways the rescue operation is still underway.

There are things we’re all freed from at salvation: the penalty of sin (condemnation), the power of sin, eternal separation from God. And then there are some variables, things that entangle many of us but not all, although all are entangled by something. In my case those variables included behaviors such as stubbornness, deception, anger, and a whole lot of transgressions I don’t care to document.

The weight that was really pinning me down, the one that was killing me was . . . religion.

I had to be rescued from religion.

I grew up a good Baptist boy—church on Sunday mornings and evenings, prayer meetings on Wednesday night, and youth activities nearly every weekend. Throw in a weekly Bible study and I was doing church stuff four out of every seven days, and sometimes more. By the time I graduated from high school, I was well-credentialed, overly religious, and very lost.

The truth of the gospel was all around me, but I was too busy to see it.

I carried that bogus status throughout college and into the first six years of marriage. By the time I really came to Christ, I had graduated with a religious degree, served on the staff of a megachurch, passed an ordination council, served in a leadership role at a national ministry, taught a Sunday school class for young married couples, and chaired a deacon board.

Turns out we can do a lot of things without Christ. Nothing of value, mind you, but a lot of it. What I really needed: forgiveness, freedom, assurance of heaven, abiding peace, and anything and everything that “pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) . . . those I could find only in Christ.

Religion had gotten me nowhere. It had earned me nothing. But you don’t have to earn what you’ve been gifted.

8/8/88 was a very good day. It was the day I met the Rescuer.

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