Suppose we had to earn our own salvation. Some people today may say “no problem; I can do that.” Others may even say I am good to go now. That would be those who when you try and witness to them, they tell you all the good things they do. For instance, they don’t curse, and they help old ladies cross the street safely.
When someone responds confidently about earning his own salvation, what you are hearing are the words of the ignorant and/or the self-righteous. If anyone thinks he can earn his salvation, he has no idea of how high God’s moral and performance standards are.
The truth is that if you and I had to earn our way to heaven, heaven would be an empty place. No one would be there but God, His Son, and the heavenly host. That’s why the message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ is the good news. The love of God found a way for us to make it into heaven!
One day a young man came to Jesus wanting to know how to earn his way to heaven. “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” he asked (Matthew 19:16). According to this young man, he had kept the Ten Commandments all the days of life (verse 20). He wanted to know what did he yet lack.
This man was on the wrong road to heaven. He trusted in his good works. But he must have sensed something was missing. Why else would He ask the Lord what else he needed to do to enter heaven? If he knew he had done enough to make the mark, he would not have asked Jesus that question. And why would he ask what did he yet lack? I believe anyone who trusts in his good deeds to get to heaven has the sense that something is yet missing. Within each of us, there exists a spiritual emptiness that can be filled only by a genuine relationship with God through Christ.
The young man was on the wrong road because no human being can keep the Lord’s commandments to His satisfaction. “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight,” the Bible says (Romans 3:20). That means no one will be declared righteous by virtue of keeping the commandments of the Law.
Perhaps you have met someone like this young man. Or perhaps you are such a person. Deep down inside, do you trust in your moral superiority as your ticket to heaven? How about your church attendance, community involvement or the work in your local church?
The Bible is abundantly clear. There is but one way for us to get from earth to heaven. That is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God has extended this invitation to all. Those who reject His invitation and who trust another way are on the wrong road to heaven.
Frank King is pastor of the English-speaking congregation at the Hinesville Korean Full Gospel Church, 758 Tupelo Trail, Hinesville, GA, 31313.