“People cannot do any work that will make them right with God.” — Romans 4:5 (New Century Version)
Max Lucado has a great way of relating to readers. I’ll read a passage from “Grace for the Moment”:
If Christ had not covered us with his grace, each of us would be overdrawn on [our heavenly bank] account. When it comes to goodness, we would have insufficient funds. Inadequate holiness. God requires a certain balance of virtue in our account, and it’s more than any of us has alone. Our holiness account shows insufficient funds, and only the holy will see the Lord; what can we do?
Here’s an expanded view of the scripture from Romans, Chapter 4 (New American Standard Bible):
3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as Righteousness.”
4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.
His faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 3:28 says “that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”
We do not gain entry to Heaven by good deeds alone. And that’s what Lucado is saying. There’s not a certain level of goodness that you have to attain in order to reach heaven. It is our faith in Christ’s salvation.
“For by grace you have been saved by faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9
By God’s grace, we are given the gift of salvation and everlasting life in heaven as well as faith in Him. Verse 10 goes on to say “we are His worksmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
We were created for good works and God expects us to carry out acts of service through Him because of our salvation, not doing good deeds to gain salvation because we couldn’t perform enough acts of virtue to do so. We shouldn’t perform acts of service to please ourselves, rather it should be done to please God. Out of gratitude for God’s gift, we will seek to serve and help others through kindness and compassion.
It is through Christ and Christ alone that we gain eternal salvation. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” (John 14:6)
I’ll end with the rest of Lucado’s devotional from above:
We could try making a few deposits. Maybe if I wave at my neighbor or compliment my husband or go to church next Sunday, I’ll get caught up. But how do you know when you’ve made enough?
If you are trying to justify your own statement, forget ever having peace… You are trying to justify an account you can’t justify. “It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).
Accepted by God by Todd Bryant