Are You a Good Person? Part 2

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You’ve committed a crime and you’re before the judge. Today is the day of sentencing.  Even though every fiber of your being wants to deny it, you know that you are guilty.  Yet, you cry out, “But I tried hard!  I did good things!  Don’t they count for something?!”

The judge explains that what you did is serious.  He says that in order to be a just judge he must give a judgment appropriate to your crime.   With finality, the gavel comes down and the pronouncement is made.  Death.

Before God we all deserve the penalty even though we cry out, “But I tried hard!”   None of us deserve heaven.

Now, imagine that God is the judge and the sentence has been pronounced.  But then something amazing happens!  Jesus who been by the judge’s side, comes down from the bench, walks over to you, puts a hand gently on your shoulder and says, “As a just judge, God must give the penalty and for your offense it must be death.  But, God loves you so much and doesn’t desire you to die.  Therefore, I will take your place.  I will die so that you might live.”

You’re stunned.  Would he really do that?  How could he do that?

You see, when you place our trust (faith) in Jesus and call him Lord and Savior, at that very moment you are pardoned.  You are set free.  In that moment you receive God’s mercy and grace.

  • Mercy is not getting the punishment you deserve. (Eternal damnation)
  • Grace is getting the favor you don’t deserve.  (Eternal life in heaven)

While we can never be “good enough” to deserve salvation, we can receive it as a gift from Jesus.  It’s summed up in this verse:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (from the New Testament, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2 verses 8-9)

When Jesus died on the cross, he bore all of our sins.  He bore the sin of your pettiness, your envy and greed, your pride and your boastfulness, your anger and hate, your self-centeredness and disobedience.  Any sin that you could think including the secret sins that you believe are unforgivable, he bore them all and he bore them for you.

Jesus, the only Son of God, came from heaven to stand by you and say, “I love you so much that I will take your place.  I will die so that you may live.”

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  (from the Gospel of John, Chapter 3 verse 16)

No matter how severe your sin might be, God’s grace and God’s forgiveness is always greater.  If God can forgive Paul who persecuted and killed Christians then He can forgive anyone including you. You are not outside the reach of God’s forgiveness.

If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, today is the day to do it.  Do not wait.  Receive his mercy and grace.  Receive his forgiveness.

Then when someone asks you, “Why do you think you’ll go to heaven?” you don’t have to wonder or have false hope.  You can confidently respond, “Yes!  Because my faith is in Jesus and by his grace I am saved!”

 

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Are You a Good Person? Part 1

Pastor Clayton's Blog Rounded cropped

How would you answer this question, “If you would die today do you believe that you would go to heaven?” Would you answer:  “Yes,” “No,” or “I’m not sure but I hope so.”

The majority of people who believe in an afterlife say that they’re going to heaven.  After all, that’s where we all want to be isn’t it?  But why do you think you’ll go to heaven?  In other words, why would God let you into heaven?

I’ve talked to a lot of people and the majority of them respond with a variation of, “Because I try to be a good person. I try hard and I try to help others out.”  In all honesty, I said something like that for many years.  I thought I was a good person, but then I came across the Good Person Quiz.  It’s not long and there aren’t any trick questions.  I’ve never passed the quiz but maybe you will.

  1. Have you ever told a lie?  Don’t hedge.  Even a “white” lie is a lie
    • What do you call someone who tells a lie?  A liar.
  2. Have you ever taken anything that’s not yours?  Again, no hedging.  For example: How about downloading music?  Taking something from your sibling?
    • What do you call someone who takes something that isn’t theirs?  A thief.
  3. Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word?   By the way, this also includes using OMG! in a text message.
    • That’s called blasphemy.  It’s taking the Almighty and Holy God’s name as a curse word.
  4. Have you ever disobeyed your parents?
    • This one is a no-brainer.  We’ve all disobeyed our parents.  That’s called rebellion.

How are you doing so far?  If you failed all four questions you not just a liar, you are a thieving liar who is blasphemous and rebellious at heart.  There are six more questions in the quiz, but I’m pretty sure we can stop at four.

If the Good Person Quiz questions sound familiar it’s because they are from the Ten Commandments.  When we measure ourselves against God’s standards, we’re not “good” at all and that conclusion makes us very, very uncomfortable.

Some people try to squirm out of that conclusion by saying, “Well, I’ve never killed anyone!”  The fact is that most people haven’t physically killed someone.  But how does that make you good?  It makes you average at best.  You see, we rationalize and justify our behavior and create our own standards of being good or at least good enough.  We grade ourselves on a curve and believe that God grades that way as well.  Besides, Jesus is all about love, right?  He wouldn’t judge us, would he?  Well, here’s what Jesus said regarding murder:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:21-22 

Coming face to face with God’s standards makes us squirm as well it should.  We are all guilty of breaking His laws.  None of us are good enough to deserve being with Him in heaven.

If we can’t be good enough no matter how hard we try and none of us deserve heaven, is there any hope?

In Part 2, we’ll cover what God has provided so that we can all say with assurance, “Yes, I’ll be in heaven.”