“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. -Philippians 1:4-6 (NIV)
Many people I talk to express concern about whether or not they are good enough to make it into heaven. My response to this is usually a series of questions: Is your christianity based on trying to earn your way into heaven through good works and religious practices, or is your christianity based on a relationship of love, faith, and trust in Jesus Christ? And, do you trust him as your Lord and Savior?
The fact is, not one of us is good enough to earn our way into heaven, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23 (NIV). The cost of even a single sin is death! “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” -Romans 6:23 (NIV). Every one of us is guilty of sin, and if we are honest we know we have sinned more than once in our lifetime. In fact, most of us (even the most committed christians) struggle to make it a single day, hour, or even a single minute without sinning–because not one of us loves God the way we should. Therefore, we are all guilty and deserve death!
The gospel message is not, come and work for me and if you do a good enough job then you can enter the kingdom of heaven. Rather, it is that Jesus came to earth, suffered, and died to forgive all who will put their faith in him, and three days later was raised again. In a nutshell, the gospel (which means ‘good news’) is — Jesus paid the price of sin for everyone who puts their faith in him. He paid this price with his own life, and his blood washes us clean!
You see, it is not about earning your way to heaven. It is about what he has already done for us. It is about a relationship of love. It is about trusting our Lord as our Savior. God tells us to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” -Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV). Your efforts will not get you into heaven. His love will!
If our christianity is based on this kind of loving relationship, then we hold the promise that God will do the work for us. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” -Philippians 2:13 (NIV). Your works as a christian stem from your love for God. They are not your path to him. When we truly love somebody we want to do things to make them happy. We want to please them. This is how it should be in our relationship with God. When we do anything in the name of Lord, whether it be attending church, reading our Bibles, giving financial support, serving in the church, or serving in the world–All of this should be done because we love the Lord and want to please the one we love!
So, I encourage you to just trust in the Lord. Focus on your love for him. Focus on and all he has done, as well as, all he will do for you in the future. Thank him for all of this, and be filled with gratitude. Then let his love pour through you into the world! “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen”. -Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)