The Gospel of Jesus Christ
– written by Jacki shortly after her conversion
Most people are under the assumption that in order to get to heaven, all they have to do is live as good a life as they can and hope for the best. They believe that if they sin too many times, they'll be sent to hell and be separated from God. They don't realize that when Christ came to earth and died for our sins, He paid the price for our forgiveness and opened the door for us to enter into God's "family". No "works" could ever get us to heaven—the only way is to trust Christ as our Savior. Works are done after salvation (like icing on the cake!)—not to get saved, but because we are saved! For us to keep trying to "earn" our salvation is the same as someone who buys something, pays for it in full, and yet keeps going back to the store to try to pay for it over and over again!
Also, once we are saved we become an adopted member of God's family. There is nothing we can do that will cause Him to turn His back on us or expel us from His family. When you are in a loving earthly family, your father won't kick you out of the family if you misbehave or don't work enough; however, if you love him, you'll want to do things to please him. If you do something wrong, all you have to do is tell him and ask his forgiveness. In a sense, he has forgiven you even before you ask him to—because he is your father and you are his child. He won't ask you to do anything to try to be reinstated into the family—your position as a member of the family is secure and can never change! Now that's not to say that you might not cause friction between you and your father or other family members—you may need a "spanking" to get back on track! But you're still a family member. In other words, the "relationship" can never change—only the "fellowship" can.
Knowing how much your father loves you, you will probably do everything you can to show him you truly mean to try to do better. There is no need to ask his forgiveness more than once—he forgives and the act is forgotten. Even if you leave home and go against everything your father has ever taught you, he won't disown you or kick you out of the family, for this is impossible. You will always be his child, no matter what—that relationship is set in stone and nothing can ever change it. When you do stand at his door again (no matter how long it takes), he will draw you to himself and welcome you home. You won't have to do anything for him to do this—he can't help it—it's a father's nature! He won't say to you, "Wait outside until you're worthy to come in!" You are already worthy, no matter what you've done, as you are his son or daughter and are worthy to share in his inheritance. What good news to any child!
So it is with God, our heavenly Father. We are made worthy by the blood of Jesus Christ, His only Son, who made us God's "adopted sons and daughters." God, being a holy and just God, cannot be in the presence of sin. There is no "degree" of sin—any sin, no matter how small, is enough to separate us from God. He gave the Ten Commandments to show us how much we need a Savior—a "measuring stick" so to speak—because no one could ever keep every one of them perfectly all the time! To restore us to fellowship with Himself, since He loved us so much, God send Jesus to earth for two reasons—to show us what God's love is all about through the love He showed to everyone around Him, and to die on the cross in order to pay the price for our sins. The Bible says "the penalty for sin is death"—not good works! In order to become the sacrifice for our sins, Jesus had to be without sin—a spotless Lamb—able to atone for our sins. He lived a perfect life because God knew we'd never be able to. So even though we are not perfect, we are made perfect in God's eyes through Jesus Christ! When He died, sin died—the sins of those who would accept Him and follow Him into God's eternal presence.
It seems a tremendous act of love (and yet only natural) that the One who lived a perfect life would die for all who couldn't—carrying all their imperfections with Him. So all who believe this and trust that God's sacrifice has made them worthy of the eternal life He promised to all who believe, are indeed assured of their salvation. For God's sacrifice was truly perfect and complete—nothing we do can ever come close to it! He offers this gift of salvation freely—even after it cost His Son so high a price. God's grace is a gift—not to be earned by us—but simply accepted! So "not by works, but by faith" alone are we to enter the kingdom of heaven. To say God's grace isn't enough to get us to heaven is to degrade God. To say that we must work in order to obtain our salvation is to make Christ's sacrifice at Calvary meaningless.
What a lovely system God has worked out for us! We don't have to do anything but receive the gift of salvation from Him, our Father. However, it seems only natural that we'd want to do something to show our love and appreciation. This is where "works" enter into the picture. In other words, you can't work your way up the ladder until you have the job and are part of the company!
Anyone who thinks the "Good News" is that if we're as good as we can be on this earth, maybe we'll be good enough to go to heaven, is missing the boat completely! The TRUE "Good News" (Gospel) is that even though we are sinners—even while we were sinners(!)—and could never be good enough to deserve the goodness of heaven, God has provided a way for us to get there without lifting a finger—only a heart! This is truly Good News indeed!