Isn’t it a great blessing that God made salvation so simple?
I don’t know any other religion that offers the saving grace that Christianity does. Other religions are full of requirements to fulfill. Mostly, you have to be good, be better, do all the right things. Anyone ever gotten there yet? Not me.
If I had to depend on my own goodness to be saved, to know God and be with Him for eternity, it would never happen. A lot of people who know me a little bit would probably want to argue with that. Maybe they look at me and think, she’s a good person. She goes to church every week unless she’s sick or on vacation. She tithes. She has a nice family. She’s raising her kids well and taking good care of them. She goes to a small group Bible study. She serves in the church. She’s a Sunday School teacher. She sponsors a Compassion child from El Salvador. She helps the poor when she can.
All of that is true. But it’s not the whole picture. Now if you consulted the people who know me best, you’d hear about a person who yells at her daughter, sometimes unfairly. Who grumbles about messes and having to cook and chauffeur and do laundry and . . . don’t get me started on all that. Who gets a speeding ticket. Who pays bills late sometimes. Who has credit cards that are used way too often. Who yells at slow drivers and drivers who cut people off and who don’t follow the rules of the road, knowing they can’t hear me (but my kids can). Who doesn’t follow through on calling the local gym about setting up a membership for my aspiring athlete son. Who complains about people that don’t do what suits me. Who does a lot of good things too, but not only good things. Probably some worse things than what I’ve listed here, but I just don’t want to think about that right now. And don’t get me started on my thought life. Talk about proof that the human heart is indeed wicked.
So we have to understand and admit that nobody passes the “God test” of being a good person. Not anyone who you look at and think is a good person. Not even your pastor. Nope. If he’s a good pastor, he’d be the first to tell you that even he, even the “best” person would not pass muster according to God’s standard, which is doing everything right and nothing wrong. You can’t be good 80% of the time and pass God’s final exam. You can’t rationalize that, well, I’m about 90% good, so I will definitely end up in Heaven. Even 99.9% good isn’t good enough. And don’t you ever think, why not?
Because God can’t accept sin. God is wholly good. 100% good. He can’t look on evil and say it’s okay, not ever. He just can’t co-exist with it. The world wouldn’t work that way.
But how can God ever accept us then? Through Jesus. That’s why faith in Jesus, following Jesus, accepting Jesus as your Savior is so important. Jesus covers our sin. His sacrifice pays the price so all is made well between us and God. God doesn’t have to look at our sin anymore, because Jesus made it all right.
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, our focus can shift from trying to make sure we do everything right (which is futile this side of heaven), to getting to know God better. And the ironic thing is, the better we get to know God, the easier it is to do the right things and not the wrong ones. By giving Jesus to die for us, God removes the obstacle to us getting to know him–our sin!
That’s what makes salvation so wonderfully simple. We don’t have to achieve Nirvana through a complete denial of self (Buddhism), we don’t have to work and work to accumulate good deeds that will out weigh the bad, or give animal sacrifices to make up for our sins like the Jews did. All we have to do is say YES to God. It’s that simple. The choice to believe and follow Jesus, to accept His gift of grace. That’s really all we have to do. Anything else, any other requirement that people or churches try to put on us in order to know God, to be with God in Heaven one day, does not do anything to gain us salvation. Jesus has already done that, once and for all.
Now does that mean we don’t have to do anything once we make the decision to believe and follow? See my next post for an answer. Meanwhile, post your own answers and comments below.