“For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:2-4).
What can we conclude? Are such people sincere? Yes. Zealous? Yes. Wrong? Yes. Lost? Yes – through ignorance!
There is no way we can obtain right standing with God by our own efforts or works. That is not God’s way to eternal life. Salvation is a gift, not a purchase. It cannot be bought by anything we can do. The work of salvation has already been done by Christ upon the cross. Our part is to receive the gift which has been so freely given. There is no other way.
Many people have accepted Christ as their Savior and have eternal life. There are those, however, who feel that somehow they must add something to the finished work of Christ upon the cross. They wouldn’t physically beat their bodies, but they often punish themselves in other ways. They work hard to gain God’s approval, but never feel folly accepted. They are always striving to reach greater goals, but forever falling short. They then harshly punish themselves with feelings of guilt and condemnation. Sincere? Yes. Zealous? Yes. Wrong? Yes. Lost? Yes. They have not lost their salvation, but they have lost the joy of their salvation – through ignorance!
A GIFT WE MUST ACCEPT IN ORDER TO HAVE IT
CAN ANYONE ACCEPT IT?
God made His offer when He gave His Son. However, His offer is not “legally” a gift until it is accepted. You recall that “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
Because the Jews living in Jesus’ time did not accept Him – they did not receive the benefit and blessing of God’s offer. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Billy Graham, the great evangelist, once shocked many people by saying, “One of the great mysteries of redemption is this: While many bad men will go to heaven, many good men will go the hell!”
Why will many bad men go to heaven? Because they accepted God’s gift of eternal life. You will recall the one thief on the cross next to Jesus. In his dying moment he said, “Remember me when you come into Your kingdom!” Jesus’ response was immediate: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).
That simple prayer of the thief was filled with faith. It contained all the elements of saving faith. What are these?
- He believed Jesus was King (Lord)
- He believed the King would have a Kingdom
- He asked to be included in that Kingdom
Jesus responded, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus accepted the thief because the thief believed on Him as Savior and King.
Why will many good men go to hell? Because they refused God’s gift and trusted in their own “good works”.
Jesus put the same truth in this way to the Pharisees – who were very religious, but very lost: “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Matt 21:31).