Do you expect to go to heaven? If so, on what do you base your hope? Do you base it on your performance in this life of good deeds irrespective of your relationship to Jesus Christ and the cross He was crucified on? The attitude of many people today, believes that God in His mercy will forgive all people whose good deeds outweigh their sins. However, the gospel of Christ is totally and blessedly different. My friend, the message of the cross of Calvary offers forgiveness to everyone, with no consideration whatever of merit. It repudiates the common belief that is so prevalent today that our good and bad deeds will be weighed to determine our eternal destiny. No one is good enough to deserve heaven. Even our best deeds are tainted by elements of selfishness and vanity. Salvation can only come to us as a gift of God’s infinite grace. This is good news, but it offends our pride.
It was on the cross that a sin-cancelling atonement was made by the Savior, Jesus Christ. Now full and free forgiveness is granted to anybody and everybody on the basis of faith alone. All calculation of merit is excluded and all weighing of good deeds on a scale is ruled out. The demands of God’s perfect justice were met when our substitute, Jesus Christ, bore our sin on the cross, suffered our penalty, and paid our debt (Romans 3:24). It was because of God’s great love that He saved us. Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us”. So, what are you depending on – your good deeds or the cross?
Isidore Zimmerman served 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Because of false testimony at his trial, he was convicted of killing a New York policeman. However, in time his innocence was proven, and in 1962 he was released from prison. But did he “live happily ever after”? No, he didn’t! Even though he had been innocent all along, Zimmerman couldn’t escape the stigma of being an ex-convict. What few jobs he could get soon ended when his employers learned that he had served time. His record was cleared, but society didn’t fully accept him.
Oh, what a striking contrast to our standing with God when we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior! We are guilty. Yet, on the merits of Jesus’ sinless life and atoning sacrifice, we are not only declared righteous, but we are fully restored to favor with our heavenly Father. He treats us as if we had never broken His law, reconciling us to Himself and adopting us into His family. That my friend is what you call full acceptance. It’s absolutely amazing that through faith, and on the merits of Jesus’ death, guilty sinners can be declared righteous by God. It’s even more astounding that He would restore us to His favor and want us to work for Him (unlike Zimmerman’s employers). But then, that’s what salvation is all about.
My friend, please don’t let your foolish pride keep you from receiving the greatest of all free gifts! Acknowledge your sin and helplessness. Believe what God has said in “His Eternal Word” and put your trust in Jesus Christ. He has already made things square for us. Remember that salvation is free, but it’s not yours until you ask for and receive it. The time to trust in Christ, to make Him the object of your faith, is now. You can do it by praying something like this – Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and that in my own strength I cannot do anything to please You or to earn eternal life. I believe that You love me and that You sent Your Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I now put my faith in You and trust completely in Jesus Christ to rescue me. I desire to turn away from my sin and to let You take control of my life. Amen.
The cross reveals man’s sin at its worst and God’s love at its best.