Who Is Righteous?

For the first 30 years of my life, I lived in fear of going to Hell. Back then, Preachers mercilessly and relentlessly preached that message. “Hell-fire and brimstone” sermons were the order of the day. I heard them say that only a few fortunate people would make it to heaven. I was somewhat encouraged to hear that those few people would be from our denomination. The scary part was that only a few from our small church would make it, and the rest would burn in hell forever. Even scarier was the fact that we could not know whom those unfortunate folk would be.

As an eleven-year-old lad, I understood that to have a chance to make it through the pearly gates, I needed to follow the rules and regulations of my particular church. The grocery-list of rules to follow (as I interpreted the message) included water baptism, perfect attendance at all public church services, and be careful never to deviate from the prescribed format of public worship. In addition, each Christian was encouraged to do as many good works as possible. There was nothing wrong with the challenge to do good works. However, the belief that salvation was obtained through good works was indeed wrong. Moreover, I added to their grocery list of instructions. I went through a particular ritual each night as I lay in bed. I would say repeatedly “I love Jesus” and “I hate the devil” a prescribed number of times, (I have forgotten the exact number of times that I required of myself). Only then could I have a faint hope of going to Heaven. However, I did not have that “sure and steadfast hope” in my heart.

Lest I be misunderstood, allow me to say that good works are important. The world should see our good works and glorify the Father. Our new life from Jesus issues forth in good works. If our lives remain unchanged, and we habitually continue our evil works, our conversion to Christ Jesus is suspect. Good works that Christians do are evaluated at The Judgment Seat of Christ. In our personal audience with Jesus, he looks closely at what we did on earth, and proceeds to judge our works according to their quality. Moreover, the quality of the works we do determines the kind of rewards that He will give to us. It is not a judgment that determines whether we reside eternally in heaven or hell. That was determined when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

What an inspiring concept to internalize. During the early years of my ministry, I preached the scary, graceless, message of works. That is what I knew. I felt that I had not preached a good sermon until I had scathingly rebuked the people and left them as hopeless as I was. However, (thank God!), I was soon to learn about the grace of God. Soon, I would be under the tutelage of loving Christian men. They would speak of love, grace, and a right standing with God devoid of any good works that man could do.

These Christian men studied the Epistle to the Romans with me from Phillips New Testament. The simple wording of the version was so very powerful. I was overwhelmed to learn that my salvation was fully secured because of what Jesus did and not by anything that I could ever do. I learned that I had no good works to bring to God, to bargain for my salvation. I learned that the symbol of baptism, (though necessary for every believer), could not save my soul. Church attendance could not save me, nor could good works. Not only could I not save myself by good works, neither could I maintain my salvation by good works. I learned that I may comfortably rest in the promise of God of righteousness apart from law. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? There is no other way to heaven (according to the Bible) but through Him. You must understand that He died for you and that His sacrifice satisfied both the justice and the mercy of God. On the cross, He took upon Himself your sins. He suffered t he awful wrath of His Father that you might live eternally with Him and the redeemed of all ages.

Think on the words of this old song.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand…

Come visit us at 124 N. Carlisle Street “Grace Fellowship”. You will be welcomed by a small group of loving Christians.

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