Judgment day is coming.
God has already determined the moment of your last breath on earth. That moment is fast approaching and then you will be instantly judged. (Her. 9:27)
We will all stand before God one day soon and will give an account of our lives. We will all fall short of the standard of God to make it to Heaven (Matt. 5:48) and we will all be given guilty sentences.
Some though, through the mercy of God will be allowed entry into Heaven. Those who will have put their faith in Jesus Christ.
The question though is, what does it mean to put our faith in Christ?
We all know people who say they believe in Jesus, but then their life remains unchanged. That is not saving faith.
On the other hand we all know people who say they believe in Jesus but when asked about judgment day they might say something like:
“I’m a good person”.
“I’ve done more good than bad”.
“I was baptized as a child”.
“I confess my sins to the priest”.
“I’ve done good works”.
Sadly, anyone who utters these words is without saving faith as well.
Having faith in Christ means that you believe that Jesus has saved you from all your sins in an instant.
Having faith in Christ means that you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, because of the fact that you couldn’t save yourself.
Having faith in Christ means that you believe that salvation is through faith in Christ alone.
And the Bible is clear that salvation is by faith alone.
Hebrews 11 makes this point over and over again.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God”, shouts the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:6.
It goes on to say that Noah “became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7
The chapter goes on describing that it was the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and the countless who came after them that saved them. Not their works.
Elsewhere in scripture, Paul says that faith is a gift of God and salvation must be apart from works or we could boast one day that we got ourselves to Heaven. (Eph 2:8-9)
Anywhere salvation happens in the Bible it is not a process, but it happens in an instant when someone puts their faith in Christ. (Luke 19:9, Acts 8:37, Acts 16:31, Acts 9:20, Luke 23:43)
When someone adds works to faith, then they don’t have any faith at all. It’s not that they have some faith, or that there are degrees of faith, when it comes to salvation it is all or nothing.
The Bible describes faith as confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Heb. 11:1). In other words faith is certainty even though it has not happened yet. There is nothing less certain than adding works to salvation.
Faith plus works doesn’t work.
Let’s say you buy a phone at the store. The reason you love this phone is because it is very reliable, “it just doesn’t break”. But then, when it comes to check out time, the person at the counter offers you the insurance and you decide to buy it just in case. Do you actually have faith in the product? No, it is a lack of trust in the maker. It is not complete faith.
If you stand before God on judgment day, and you are trusting in anything other than Jesus’ righteousness, then you are not trusting in Jesus.
Jesus demanded complete trust.
In John 14:6 He says that He is THE way, THE truth and THE life, and that no man can go to the father but through Him. Adding works slaps Jesus in the face.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He wants people to stop doing works to earn salvation and instead to simply put their faith in Him.
Finally in John 6:28-29 he is asked straight out, “What are we to do, so that we may accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
The Bible is clear that Faith alone in the messiah is what it takes to get to Heaven, and that adding any works as a reason to merit Heaven, not only is a slap in the face to Jesus, but ultimately is a sign that the faith is not there at all.
While James rightly reminds us (James 2:14-26) that a lack of works means that there is no saving faith (or in other words that someone without works hasn’t truly been born-again), We must also remember that a trust in works also means that saving faith is missing. You can’t be born again and not believe in instant salvation! Works demands a process of salvation. Works demands a lack of trust in Jesus’ ability to save. Works says “I do not trust you Jesus!”
One of the saddest things that I think often about is the fact that so many of us are wrong about how it will go for our loved ones on judgment day.
Because of our love for them and our desire to see them go to heaven we assume that they will be ok on that day.
So many of you have neighbors, friends and family, who say that they have faith, but you know that they do not. And yet, you suppress that truth. You ignore it. You’ve learned to live with it. Perhaps you might actually wonder if they might be genuinely saved. Perhaps you’ve created a new way to Heaven just for them.
The fact of the matter is that if your loved one trusts in their goodness, they are unsaved. They are on their way to hell. The are still at war with their creator (Rom. 8:7), whose standard is perfection (Matt. 5:48), and who was willing to crush His Son on the cross for sin (Isaiah 53:10). You must get beyond the surface, and actually think about these truths.
I know that it is uncomfortable, it is tragic to think of a loved one in hell, but for their sake and for yours you must think about it. It might mean an uncomfortable conversation, it might mean the loss of a relationship, it might mean uncomfortable thanksgivings, but for the love of God and for the sake of eternity it is imperative that you consider these things.
One day when we stand before God, we will only be allowed entrance into Heaven if we have faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We will deserve hell, and yet, get heaven. We will owe an eternal debt, and yet share in God’s inheritance.