“But to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.”
Have you ever been in a financial hole so vacuous and large, that no matter how hard you worked at trying to recover and dig yourself out of it, you couldn’t?
Not everyone has been there, but many, many individuals have. Unease and stress turn into despair and depression as you realize that there is no recovery from the downward trajectory that you are on. The debits have piled up so ridiculously on your ledger, that the credits aren’t even a speed bump to slow them down. In situations like this, outside of a benefactor to deliver you or the outrageous chance of winning a financial windfall through a lottery - stick a fork in you, you’re done. The technical term for being financially ruined is “Bankrupt”. Kiss your assets and possessions goodbye.
Life, however, is about more than money. If money was the end-all, be-all of happiness and contentment, there would be no unhappy, discontent, depressed, unsatisfied rich people. Although there are many people that look to money and a hedonistic lifestyle for their satisfaction, there are others that look beyond worldly, temporary pleasures to find fulfillment in spirituality and the eternal.
There is a funeral home not far from my home that I pass whenever I take my daughters back and forth from school. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a U-Haul truck parked outside when people are paying their last respects. The dead can’t take their toys and collectibles with them. Neither can you. When people get this, they try in their own way to live a life that has meaning and gives themselves enough credit to satisfy their Maker’s requirements - whatever those may be.
If you believe the Bible, you will come to find out through reading it, that God requires a payment to get into Heaven. He has a spiritual ledger of debits and credits. When you stand before Him on the Day of Judgment, he will examine you to see if your balance sheet works out in your favor (everlasting life, Heaven) or against you (spiritual death, darkness, Hell). I’d like to give you some tips from the Bible, so you’ll know what you’ll need to get you safely through the Gates of Heaven.
Tip #1 - Believe in God and the Hereafter
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
I may or may not have been told by police officers in my past that ignorance of the speed limit was not a valid excuse to get me out of the consequences of violating said limit. Likewise, God holds us all accountable to HIm and ignorance is not an excuse to let us off the hook. God tells us Creation itself testifies to the fact that there is a Creator, and should drive every individual to seek HIm. Sadly, many do not.
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” Romans 1:20-22
Tip #2 - Believe Everlasting Life is Available for You
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2
Don’t be like the religious leaders of the 1st Century, who liked to talk about spirituality, yet lacked faith:
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Acts 13:46
TIp #3 - Recognize Sin Causes Spiritual Death and Separation from God
A lot of people are “in the hole” spiritually. Except it is much worse than that. The reality is, many individuals are running around spiritually bankrupt, separated from God, and spiritually dead in their sins. The debits on their spiritual ledger are far beyond any ability to repay, beyond any turning-over-new-leafs, beyond any personal attempts at redemption, recovery, or spiritual disciplines. God is our spiritual “Bookkeeper” and will judge us to see if we have adequate payment for the massive deficit our sins have placed on our personal ledgers.
“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;” Romans 3:9
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” Ephesians 2:1
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2
Tip #4 - Understand the Penalty for Sin
“For the wages of sin is death;” Romans 6:23
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:12-15
TIp #5 Believe God Has Provided a Solution for You
God is love. He created us in HIs image with the intent of having loving, sustained fellowship with us. He would walk in the Garden of Eden and fellowship with Adam and Eve. Yet, He wasn’t looking for puppets to control, but creatures with freedom to return His love and fellowship. And we know how that story ended...in disobedience, separation, and death.
God’s love for humanity has never faltered though. He does not desire for us to perish. He has made a way for us to be delivered, cleansed, and forgiven of sin so that we can re-enter fellowship with Him, both in this life and the eternal life to come. God doesn’t so much judge our sin as much as sin delivers death and destruction to us and robs us of life, joy, peace, and connection to God. Sin separates us from God much like a virus separates us from health. God is love, life, light, abundance, contentment, peace, joy, and rest. Sin brings us death, darkness, emptiness, longing, condemnation, selfishness and every evil work.
God called out a people and made them His own. Their forefather, Abraham, established a special place for his children by placing faith in God. The children of Israel, like all of humanity, still had issues with sin. So God, in His love and providence, gave them a way to deal with their individual and corporate sins through a Covenant with His people - the Law. On Mount Sinai, God delivered the Ten Commandments as the foundation of the Law and later Solomon would build the Temple where temporary sacrifices were offered to God to deal with the sins of the people. But over the years, the children of Israel would forget the purpose of the Covenant was to maintain connection to God and their focus became more about rules and requirements and much less about faith and relationship.
Just as God had delivered His people from Egypt after the Passover, God in His lovingkindness reached down and offered a new Passover, not with the blood of innocent lambs, but with the blood of His innocent Son. This was to make a New Covenant, a better Covenant (Hebrews 8) so not only could HIs people, but all of humanity have access to HIm and enjoy fellowship, love and forgiveness with Him forever through the life, work, sacrifice (death and blood), and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18
Tip #6 Understand You Can’t Buy Forgiveness with God
Have you ever been super hungry and stopped somewhere for a bite to eat just to realize they were cash only and you only had a debit card? Or maybe showed up at an arcade with a bag of quarters and the machines only accepted tokens?
God makes forgiveness of sins available to all of humanity, but there is just one catch. It’s a free gift.
There’s basically three types of people in the world.
- No Payment/Atonement for Sins Needed. If you don’t think there is such a thing as sin or that it’s a problem, then why seek forgiveness? The apostle John dealt with God deniers, spiritualists and other skeptics and mystics in his day. He addressed them in the book of 1 John. “
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
- Pay/Atone for Sins through Self-Effort. The key difference between pure Christianity and other religions of the world, is that Christians are justified by God through faith in the work of Jesus Christ. All others seek reconciliation with God through keeping of laws and commandments, spiritual disciplines, or any other number of self-effort. But once you go down that road, you are working from a place of indebtedness and not accessing the grace of God through faith.
The debt is insurmountable though, no matter how good your religious game is.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” Titus 3:5
- Christ Paid/Atoned for Sins through His Effort. Christ was God’s gift of love to us. A payment for sin is necessary to have a relationship with God and have everlasting life.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” Romans 3:25
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Christ not only provided atonement for our sins, but He went beyond that. He not only gave His life for us, but gave His life to us. When we believe on Christ and trust Him for salvation of our souls, we enter into His death, burial and resurrection and come out the other side new creatures in Christ.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Eternal life is only through Christ. He’s not just one way, He is THE way. He is the only one that has made provision and atonement for the sins of mankind. He is the only one that can restore a lost sinner’s spiritual life and relationship with God. He saves us from sin. He saves us from ourselves and our darkness.
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5: 11-13
Every one of us is on a spiritual journey, whether we ignore it or acknowledge and pursue it. The ending point (which is really a starting point) is at the feet of God. No matter what our beliefs, we will all stand before God. He wants a relationship with you. He’s done all the work. He’s made one path for humanity. Will you receive what he’s provided for you? Will you accept His free gift of salvation and everlasting life in Christ? You can’t earn it through any good works or deeds. Or will you remain separated from Him, dead in your trespasses and sins?“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2