I recently had a conversation with a friend who was really conflicted about his spiritual life.
“I just want someone to tell me.”
“Tell you what?” I asked
“What do I need to do?”
“For what?” I asked
“What do I need to do to go to heaven? How much do I need to serve or give or do? I feel like no one really knows what it takes to get to heaven. It’s so frustrating.”
If your salvation is based on works, it IS frustrating.
It’s like if your boss said to you, “You had better hit your sales quota or you’re fired.” But then doesn’t tell you what the sales quota is! You’d live a life full of stress and worry and anxiety (sounds like almost everyone in this day and age, am I right?).
You’d strive and work and push and try, never really knowing if you had done enough.
That’s what works-based faith is all about.
Let me ask you this:
When you get to heaven and stand before God and He asks, “Why should I let you in heaven,” what will you say?
“I tried to be a good person”
“I went to church (most) Sundays”
“I volunteered at ___________”
If this is you…I have some bad news: This won’t cut it.
Not even close.
I don’t care if you’re Mother Teresa or Billy Graham. Lining up your good works on earth as a laundry list of reasons why you should be in heaven won’t get you very far.
You wanna know why?
The standard isn’t good behavior. It’s not even GREAT behavior.
The standard is perfection.
The only way you’re getting through the pearly gates on MERIT is if your record is spotless.
Now, I may not know you personally, but I know your record isn’t spotless. You’ve made mistakes, you’ve failed. The Bible calls it ‘sin.’
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23
I love how clear the Bible is…”ALL”. That means everyone. You, me, your friends, your family. That guy you work with. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E.
We’ve all missed the mark. So now what?
Jesus. That’s what.
That’s why Jesus is such a big deal. He’s our only hope. He was perfect. And He stepped into our messy world full of sin and wretchedness, lived a perfect life, and then died at the hands of angry, sinful men.
He paid the price for sin. Once for all.
Oh, what a Savior!!! [praise break!!!!]
I’m reminded of Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What is a wage? It’s something you earn for your work.
What is a gift? It’s something freely offered from one to another. No strings attached.
The salvation of God is a FREE gift, no strings attached. He gives it to anyone who would receive it. It’s that simple.
So what about good works? Are they unnecessary? A waste in God’s Kingdom?
Not at all.
We don’t do good works because we’re trying to earn salvation. We do good works because we’ve freely been given salvation, and it’s a natural response to the free gift of grace.
Stop striving and worrying and stressing out. Salvation is free to anyone who receives it humbly.
And I hope as a response, you serve God and love people your whole life. Not to earn anything, but in thanks and gratitude to a loving Savior.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8