“Believe in Jesus and be a good girl.”
That’s how to get into heaven when we die. Or so I thought.
Believe And Be Good.
So I believed in Jesus when I was thirteen-years-old. But instead of trusting God’s grace (unmerited favor) to make me righteous in His sight, I added to His saving work by trying to be good. And hoped that worked!
Being good meant I had to display moral virtues such as kindness, mercy, humility . . . and, obey rules. I made a list of moral do’s and don’t. Oughts and should.
Do unto others as you’d like them to do to you.
Don’t lie, cheat, steal. Don’t even think about it.
I should read my Bible. I ought to pray.
Depending on my behavior, and society’s fluctuating “definition of good,” I never knew for sure where I stood with God. I worried I could lose my salvation because even on my “good days” I questioned whether I was “good enough.”
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” (C. S. Lewis)Tweet
So I raised the ante. I did good deeds to earn my way to heaven. I volunteered at charities. Served within my church.
My faith in Christ’s morphed into a works-oriented faith which isn’t uncommon. People tell me they’re going to heaven because . . .
“I’m a good person. I’ve lived a good life.”
“Sometimes I take what’s rightfully not mine (i.e., ask for a free water cup at a fast food restaurant and fill it with soda) but I’ve never robbed a bank.”
“I may lie on my tax forms and cheat on tests, but I’ve never killed anyone.”
“We are all on very good terms with ourselves, and we can always put up a good case for ourselves.”Martyn Loyd-Jones
We deceive ourselves. “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3).
That’s why the Gospel is Good News. We can’t save our souls, but we can save ourselves a lot of worry and strife if we believe in Jesus to save us.
The jailer in Philippi asked the Apostle Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30, 31).
They didn’t add, “And be good. Otherwise all bets off.”
“God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior.”Tim Keller
I cringe, knowing I once tried to earn what Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished. Jesus’ shed blood justified me. Not my behavior.
There’s no addendum which says we should bring something to the table. We come with empty hands and expectant hearts.
Even in This . . . mad world, “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25).