My discussion with Jim followed a familiar pattern:
We’d spoken briefly before, but today he had time to spare and discuss the real issues of life.
“Do you believe in God?”
“Well, yes I do, but not so as to make me a ‘fanatic’.”
“When you meet Him, will you get a welcome?”
“I think I will, I’m as good as any other person.”
“Did you know that God said you need to ‘Perfect’, to be welcomed into His eternal kingdom?”
Matthew 5:48 (NKJV) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:20 (NKJV) For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Are you perfect?”, “Well, no, but ….”
And off we go to the ‘merry go round’ of life, reflecting on good, even godly people they’ve known, or some description of their own self denial for a good cause.
The religion of their day having told them not to trust the Bible, just the clergy or church, and to do as much ‘good’ as they can, because the God of their imagination will be sure to weigh their good against their bad, and if they have more good than bad, they will be able to enter His abode, heaven.
How very different is the Gospel, Jesus Christ came to establish, and to make available to those who knew themselves to be unable to do enough good to impress God.
Jesus message is one of Grace – undeserved favour – salvation as a free gift, from the hand of a Great Saviour.
Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A gift which costs the receiver nothing, but the giver everything.
John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
How much would you pay for a gift, what would be the effect of trying to pay for it? You can’t pay for a gift, or it is no longer a gift, and when you try you offend the giver.
The lie perpetrated by religions is that you can/must work to pay God for His gift, and the distinguishing teaching of Christianity is that all you must do to become righteous is receive His gift.
John 1:12 (NKJV) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name
John 6:28–29 (NKJV) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Dear Reader, Abandon your efforts to win God’s favour and receive His gift, today.
The Theif on the Cross
The thief had nails through both hands, so that he could not work; and a nail through each foot, so that he could not run errands for the Lord; he could not lift a hand or a foot toward his salvation, and yet Christ offered him the gift of God; and he took it. Christ threw him a passport, and took him into Paradise.
D. L. Moody, from “Day by Day with D.L Moody,” Moody Press