I often ask a simple but direct question when sharing my faith which allows me to assess a person’s level of conviction in what they believe regarding a singular sovereign creator. Here’s the question, “Do you believe in God?” I know, I know – but I told you it was a simple question.
Though this may seem like a simple question on the surface, it’s not often met with a simple answer and that was the case with Jorge.
Brian and I were walking the streets of Hillcrest sharing Jesus when we walked into the Hillcrest newsstand to speak with Jorge. When we asked Jorge if he believed in God he replied of course. “That’s great!”, we responded.
Then Jorge began to tell us of the many good works he performs. And in his mind these good works earn him God’ favor and subsequently entrance into heaven.
I wasn’t surprised as many people believe that doing good works will get them into heaven, as if God is obligated to welcome every person into heaven who does good works.
The truth is that none of us can do enough good works to earn entrance into heaven.
In fact our relationship with God isn’t based on our good works at all, it’s based on the good work God has performed on our behalf.
On the surface one might think that relying on another’s sacrifice is the easy way out and no friend of truth at all. Oh sure, just believe in what God has done for you instead of doing things for God. Thats too easy, something has to be required of us, right? Wrong!
To say that we can earn God’s favor creates a slew of problems though I’ll address just two.
- Only focusing on the good works we perform doesn’t properly deal with the bad things we do which have consequences. One doesn’t cancel out the other. For instance, holding the door open for an elderly woman doesn’t cancel out murdering someone the day before.
- To believe we can earn God’s favor nullify’s the doctrine of grace which is a fundamental theological thread that runs throughout the biblical text. The very definition of grace means unmerited favor. This means God’s favor is given to us independent of what we have done, are doing or will do – good or bad.
Trusting in what God has done for us conflicts with our super inflated sense of self worth. In other words it’s more convenient to believe that I can contribute to my own heavenly destiny instead of relying on the actions of another and thereby admit my inadequacy to save myself.
God’s Word says that our good works are as filthy rags and will get us nowhere. However, our faith in God’s work of redemption at the cross through the person of Jesus Christ brings total forgiveness of sin and grants us entrance into the kingdom heaven.
This is grace!