Study 4: Man’s Remedies
Aware of His separation from His creator, if not also of the dire consequences that he faces, down through the centuries man has sought his own solutions to bridge the gap. But no matter how well intentioned or sincere, all of man’s so-called remedies fall far short of bridging the gap or of building a stairway to reach our creator. They leave us perplexed, frustrated, and perhaps a bit frantic, yet still seeking the answer to an age-long question: what must I do to be saved?
It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16)
1. Religion, in some form or other, is almost as old as man himself. But it has a problem. According to the following verse from the Bible, religion cannot change man’s heart.
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13)
2. Good works is another of man’s attempts to be acceptable to God. We must, however, meet God’s standard of what is good. According to the following verse from the Bible, there isn’t even one that has been successful.
All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3).
4. Obey the rules. But does that mean all the rules or just the “important” ones? According to the following verse from the Bible, if we break one rule we are guilty of breaking them all.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10).
Mankind’s deepest desires and greatest efforts have always been directed at seeking God. A longing to end the separation, to make amends. Our efforts have been varied. Religion, in whatever form or method has never been sufficient in and of itself to change man’s heart. Even at out best, we are not good enough to meet God’s standards. Not one single person has been able to attain the position that God created us in the first place – good. And what makes us think we can keep ten rules (commandments), when we could not even keep one simple rule in the Garden of Eden? Even so, breaking one such commandment is like breaking them all. If it seems hopeless it is, at least by our own designs. Yet we still keep asking –
“What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) (Emphasis added)
Webster defines religion as: (1) the service and worship of God or the supernatural; (2) commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; (3) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices; (4) scrupulous conformity; (5) a cause, principle, or system held to with ardor and faith5. But religion has the following potential shortcomings.
- Where the service or worship is of someone or something other than the God revealed in the Bible – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
- Where the commitment is superficial and does not go beyond external observance – “You have neglected the more important matters of the law– justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matthew 23:23b)
- Where our attitudes, practices and beliefs are external but do not reflect a changed heart – What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul? (Deuteronomy 10:12)
- Where we scrupulously conform to rituals without a transformed life – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2a)
- Where the cause, principle, or system of religion is powerless to save us – What the law was powerless to do…God did by sending his own Son. (Romans 8:3a)
Review the list of the Bible’s “hall of fame” that follows. While we may find it surprising, according to Psalm 14:3, none of these were good enough to meet God’s standards. Without exception, they all needed Jesus to die for their sins. If this is the case for them, how likely is it then that we can be saved by being “good” enough or by obeying the rules?
Mankind’s Best Efforts And Greatest Desires
Salvation does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort,
but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16)
Adam & Eve – God’s original creation made in His image, but they could not be saved by their own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Genesis 1:26.
Noah – The last righteous man, but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s Mercy. Genesis 6:9.
Job – A man that God boasted about, but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Job 1:8.
Abraham – A man of great faith, but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Galatians 3:9.
Moses – He spoke to God face-to-face, but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Deuteronomy 34:10.
David – God called him “a man after My own heart,” but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Acts 13:22.
Mary – The mother of Jesus, highly favored by God, but she could not be saved by her own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Luke 1:28.
John The Baptist – None greater born of woman, but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Matthew 11:11.
Peter – The man on whom Jesus built His Church and who was given the keys of heaven, but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. Matthew 16:18, 19.
Paul – He fought the good fight and he kept the faith, but he could not be saved by his own desire or effort. It took God’s mercy. 2 Timothy 4:7.
You and Me – Even at our best, are we any better than these? No, we cannot be saved by our own desire or effort. It takes God’s mercy. Psalm 14:3.
Jesus – The way and the truth and the life. God’s mercy comes only through Him. John 14:6.
Do not set aside the grace [mercy] of God, for if righteousness [salvation]
could be gained through the law [religion, good works],
Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:21)