Nothing is free in life, right? To secure a promotion at work, you have to work hard and stay late. To become an elite athlete, you must hone your skills and sacrifice your body. To drive a nice car, you have a higher car payment and insurance. To keep a good account with the I.R.S., you need to pay your taxes and file your returns on time.
This same line of reasoning tends to infiltrate spiritual matters by escalating the place of man while lowering the glory of God. Since my place in heaven depends on me, I have to work my way up the ladder to heaven. And then, at the end of my life, my hope is that my good works outweigh the bad ones. Since I’m not a bad guy, this shouldn’t be a problem.
While this sounds soothing to the soul, it is not biblical. Eternal life is a gift that cannot be earned and is not deserved. It can only be received – by faith. All of our supposed good works in the sight of God are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Try as we might, we cannot attain heaven.
But God. He did what we could not do when He paid the price by dying for our sins, thus completing the necessary work. Titus 3 announces that truth: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (3:5). He did the work. What’s left is for you to put your faith in that once-for-all work. Have you?