When I was in college, there was a class called Personal Evangelism. It was the basics about how to share your faith with unbelievers. I was taught biblical insights along with the practical application. One lesson was on a thing called “Evangelism Explosion.” This is a program where you go door to door and ask people questions about their faith.
While the door to door method probably doesn’t work in most communities, one of the questions remains with me. You were to ask the person, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God and he asked you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ how would you answer?
This is an excellent question because it reveals what we really believe. It exposes our hearts and ideas about faith and heaven. I fear that today, most people, even in the Church, would say something like, “I am a good person who has done numerous good things for other people.” We could list how we helped with school projects, or went on that mission trip, or were kind to those elderly people next door. We could detail our work with the underprivileged, helping the homeless, and even providing a few meals for those in need. We could explain to God how we never hurt anyone and pointed out those who were doing wrong in our world. Our list of the good things we have done would be long and quite uplifting. In a world of darkness, we tried to be a light.
While this all sounds good, it has two critical flaws. One, it misses all the good things we did not do in our lives. The times we walked by the homeless or got angry at that kid or did nothing in the face of injustice. Two, it misses all the times we did something bad. All the times we lied and cheated to get ahead. All those moments where we were not so good. Our view of ourselves as good people who did good things and so God should allow us into his good heaven is flawed. We are not good enough and not good all the time.
The only answer we can give at the time of judgment is to plea for a Savior. We need someone who can make up for our shortcomings and pay our debt. We need someone to be a mediator between God and us. In short, we need what Jesus offers. The only answer that God will listen to when he decides about your eternal destination is, “I appeal to the work of Jesus, my Savior.”
Our salvation in Jesus is the message of good news that the writers of the New Testament share with us. We are saved by him, FOR good works. Salvation is not based on our good works; rather, they are the result of making him our Savior.
I fear that most believers do not understand this foundational truth of the message of the Church. Instead, the Church is viewed as a civic organization that exists for the good of its community. Reading my social media feed from most Churches, you might believe this to be the only reason this group exists. While I hope the followers of Jesus are a blessing to their community, their primary message is about the salvation offered in Jesus.
When you stand before God and must give an account of your life, your goodness will not be enough to save you. Salvation comes only through Jesus. This is the message of the Church from its inception, and it must remain the message today.