My Musings – “I wish I had an answer to that, because I’m tired of answering that question.” This is a quote from Yogi Berra, a baseball player of a bygone era who was famous for his nonsensical comments that, upon reflection, made a lot of sense after all.
After nearly 2,000 years, it seems that everyone should know the answer to the question, “what must I do to be saved?” Yet many continue to believe that salvation has more than one “flavor.”
Religion – “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13, NIV 1978). Religion is an external observance that does not lead to a transformed heart. But a heart that is transformed by a personal encounter with Christ, is a spiritual act of worship, a religious expression that demonstrates that our heart has been changed (Romans 12:1 –2). Religion is not the answer to the question, but it should be a result of the answer.
Obey God’s Laws – “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10, NIV 1978). We could not obey one simple command in the Garden, much less the ten on the tablets. But even nine out of ten would be insufficient. But an encounter with Jesus will set us free from the bondage of sin (John 8:32-34). Obedience to the law is not the answer to the question, but it should be a result of the answer.
Doing Good Works – “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalms 14:3, NIV 1978). Goodness is measured by God’s unchanging standards, not relative to society’s ever-changing standards. But the light of Christ reflected in our transformed lives, can point the way for others (Matthew 5:16). Good works are not the answer to the question, but they should be a result of the answer.
Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, In Christ Alone – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves [religion, laws, good works], it is the gift of God – – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV 1978). When you know the real answer to the question, you never get tired of answering.
My Advice – If salvation was dependent upon religion, obeying the law, or good works, how could we ever be sure that we were religious enough, we had not broken the wrong (one) rule, or we had done enough good deeds (the good you ought to do but do not do, that is sin to you)? It should be a relief to know that our salvation does not depend upon the depth of our desires (never deep enough) or the degree of our efforts (never high enough), but on God’s mercy (inexhaustible). “It [salvation] does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:16, NIV 1978). Forget your desires. Give up on your efforts. Appeal to God’s mercy. You’ll never get tired of His answer.