Two Paths to Salvation

two paths

I’ve been around the block for quite some time. I’m no longer fresh off the womb. In normal language I am getting old now. One thing that scares me is the realization of how much has changed in my life. From politics (America was at war with communists, today we are becoming communist), to technology (Today my cell phone has more computing power than all the computers in my old apartment complex.)

The only thing that hasn’t changed is human nature. Nearly every person I speak to about God’s grace (for the first time), consistently takes the same position. This hardly varies. It seems that with all the others changes around us, this too would change. Yet, it does not. Every single time I talk to someone from a religious background (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc) they all have the same path to pleasing God, the same plan, and the same arguments. Times may change, culture may change, but human nature does not. Here is a contrast between that which human nature teaches, and that which Jesus teaches (Mat 20:1-16).

1. Trusting your good works

In many conversations, both in person and “in Facebook” people are shocked at the idea that Salvation can be free, or that it is a gift, freely given. They often proceed to give the following process about how salvation really works.

1. God reveals to people that He loves them and they should obey Him.

2. Some people listen to Him, and try very hard to obey Him.

3. Other people are rebels, and they ignore Him.

4. On the last day God will judge both groups and give to each on what they deserve.

It is very mathematical and precise, except completely and blatantly wrong. This equation is missing a vital component, Jesus. Where is Jesus in this story? Nowhere. Of course, very often people will throw in Jesus in between step 1 and 2. They will state that Jesus dies to offer us a chance to obey Him. Yet that is not different than the scenario above. What is the point of Christ death? The methodology above works just fine without Jesus in the picture. Jesus or no Jesus, cross or no cross, many people think it’s all about those who obey vs those who do not.

2.Trusting Christ’s good work

Instead the Bible offers us a completely different plan. We are told that salvation is not obtained by what we did, are doing, and will do, instead it’s a gift. This gift is freely given, and cannot be earned. This gift is not our own doing, but it is God’s free will choice to save us. (Eph 2:4-7, 8-9). Below is a much better (though simplified) version of how salvation really works.

1. God reveals to people that He loves them and they should obey Him.

2. All people are rebels, and they repeatedly ignore Him and wage war against him. (Rom 3:10, 23)

3. Our sin earns us the wrath of God and creates a debt that can only be paid with our death. (Romans 1:18, 6:23)

4. Jesus goes to the cross, takes that sin, and pays the penalty of death for us. (Rom 3:25, 2 Cor 5:21, 1 John 4:10)

5. We are saved and then live a life of humility and repentance because God works inside us. (Phil 2:12-13)

6. On the last day God will judge unrepentant sinners for a sin-debt they still owe, and accept Christians because Jesus paid their debt already. Jesus gives us this guarantee today. (1 Peter 1:18–19, 1 John 5:13, Eph 1:13-14, John 10:28–29)

Objections that never change

”It’s not fair”

Precisely, the fact that you realize Salvation by Grace is not fair means you are well on your way to understanding it. The moment it becomes “fair” is the moment when you join all other religions of this world. It’s not fair that Jesus had to suffer for us to earn us a reward, but He did, and it’s a mockery to think you can add to His completed work on the cross by your “fairness.”

“If people know they are saved ‘for free’ then they will stop trying to be good.”

Or perhaps they will be so overjoyed that Jesus loves them, they will do good things out of gratitude, not out of fear. This question irritates me. It’s like saying “if the wife knows her husband loves her no matter what, she will then go sleep with all the men in the world!” Ridiculous! No, she will love her husband even more!

“What’s the point of doing good then?”

The whole point of doing good is to obey Jesus, and showcase Jesus. The fact that you ask this question means you only wanted to do good for selfish reasons. If YOU get something (salvation) then you will do good deeds. But if you already got something for YOU, then there is no point to doing good? Good works are not selfish things we do to get gold stars FROM Jesus, they are things we do to give glory TO Jesus.

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