Eric C. Whelchel


As the movie Saving Private Ryan comes to an emotional ending, an elderly Ryan visits Arlington Cemetery and remembers his salvation from certain death. Surrounded by Germans, a small group of brave soldiers go behind enemy lines and bring young private Ryan home. He has lost three brothers to this war and the United States government cannot stand the thought of Mrs. Ryan losing another son. The elderly Ryan remembers the challenge given to him so many years ago: “Earn this!” Ryan falls to the ground in front of a white cross, hearing the challenge: “We came and saved you. We snatched you out of harm’s way, the enemy’s powerful embrace. We died for you—earn this gift! Make your life a special gift to the world.” Ryan weeps and feels the burden of a life time. “Am I a good man? Have I lived up to the challenge?”


Christ has “snatched us out of this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4) and now “we are His righteousness” (2 Cor. 5:21). As Paul describes it in Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.


Not unlike the burden Ryan felt—so we must continually learn to live a life with “no condemnation.” Jesus died for us to take away the certain death we faced. We received the sentence of doom because of our sins, but in Christ we have received a pardon from Almighty God. We were liberated from the prison of sin and death, and with this powerful grace covering us, the challenge must never be far from our hearts: How shall we live in this world?


Wake up every morning and thank God for the gift of “no condemnation,” but understand the burden; feel the obligation: the grace of God is like attending school and the Master Teacher demands all our excellence. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).




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