Sunday, March 5, 2000

Salvation by Grace or Works?

If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (Romans 10:9-11)

Is salvation by grace or is salvation by works? Most religions profess salvation by works: How did you treat others? What did you do in your walk on earth? Did you follow all the commands of the faith? Were you a good person?

Christianity offers a unique view of salvation - salvation by the grace of God: Did you confess Jesus as Lord? Did you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead? Did you accept the one means of salvation that God graciously provided?

There was a time in my life when I believed in salvation by works. It encouraged me to serve others and to live an honest life, but I lived in constant doubt as to whether or not I had done enough to enter heaven: I served at soup kitchens and nursing homes, but I didn't contribute to the poor. I cared about others, but I certainly wasn't devoting my life to serving them.

I began to question my belief that I was going to heaven because I was a genuinely good person. Whose measure of goodness was I using - mine or God's? By my scale, I was an exceptionally good person, but how did I rate in God's eyes?

As I began to humble myself before God, I came to acknowledge my sinfulness and came to realize that I would never be accepted by a perfect God based on my own individual merit. I needed someone who was perfect before God. I needed someone who was willing to sacrifice himself to atone for my sins. I needed a Savior. Fortunately for me, Jesus Christ was willing to be just that.