There is a lie that has infiltrated culture. In fact this lie has become pseudo religion, rather a folklore that doesn’t represent biblical Christianity. Its easy to understand how even Christians who believe in the validityof Scripture can have the wool pulled over their eyes concerning this. The fact is that history has surrounded us with distorted images of what heaven and hell are as well as how to get there. Cartoons feature a little devil with a pitch fork and pointy tail. We envision God as a Zeus like character with white hair checking off our naughty and nice list. We are told good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. We hear sermons about this, we see it on TV, when someone passes away we assume they are in heaven because the alternative is unbearable.
What if I told you that is not true….
Better yet what if the bible told you that is not true…
There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now, if no one is seen as righteous, no one can measure up, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). If we honestly believe in the truth of James 2:10 “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” Then we cannot do this on our own. Being good means nothing across the span of one’s life also peppered with dubious sin. Mankind has shown us time after time that someone will rise up through the ranks who appears to be perfect, until the cracks appear and we see the fragility of human nature. In our darkness, scripture says that we are separated from Christ, excluded for the covenant of promise, without hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
This is a grim reality
But the beauty is we are not left alone! We find a champion in Christ. We find Grace! We find forgiveness! We put on his perfection in the shadow of our inability and we are saved. Not of ourselves!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8
Your pile of good works means nothing the sight of a Holy God. It doesn’t matter how many times you give to the poor, how many homes you have built how many soup kitchens you have served in, or how many church services you have attended.
I was listening to someone speak recently and it was a great reminder that the Holy Scriptures, which are God breathed, are there to point you to the truth that God wants you to know.
What a miraculous thing, that at the culmination of God’s Redemption through Israel to the New Testament we find that God takes a break at a seemingly awkward time to focus in on the thief on the cross. Here we are in this epic retelling of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ who is the very image of the invisible God, (Colossians 1:15) and here enters a thief who acknowledges Jesus for who He is and through his bidding recognized salvation in Christ.
He says, … “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23-42-43)
Why interrupt the retelling of our precious savior’s sacrifice with the words of a thief?
So that you and me can see the very heart of God and what salvation is all about! This man did nothing to deserve salvation. He did no good work, he did not go to church, he was not baptized, he had not completed all of the sacraments. He was nothing…… but he put his trust in the only one who is something! The one and only savior Jesus Christ.
Don’t believe the lie, its been said that God needs but one breath, one instance, to change the path of a man’s eternity. Salvation, and Christianity as a whole, is Christ focused not you focused! If you don’t know Him and you haven’t come face to face with your inadequacies, I beg you to throw out this pull yourself up by the boot straps type of religion you may have been fed. Forget about the reel of good and bad you have been told you will see upon judgment, the check list of weights and measures that somehow validates you, and seek salvation through the Only one who can say, “today you shall be with me in Paradise.”