by Bill Nugent
God will not be bought off by anyone. No one can serve God and demand repayment. Romans 11: 35 says “Who has ever given to God, That God should repay him?” (NIV)
Many people are offended that the Bible teaches that their good works do not buy them a stairway to heaven. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. The Bible repeatedly states that our good works do not erase or counterbalance our sins. This is the offense of the cross.
The greatest gift — forgiveness of sins — becomes the greatest insult. The cross is the rejection of our works. Our works, however noble, cannot bring us to God. We must humbly admit that God’s holiness, God’s perfection, is beyond us. Our only recourse is to embrace the cross.
The Pharisees who were the religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought that their strict observance of Old Testament law qualified them to walk straight through heaven’s gate. Jesus said to them “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”
A harlot knows she’s a sinner. She has no good works with which to buy heaven. The harlot gladly embraces the cross and receives the gift of salvation purchased by the sufferings of Christ. Also please realize that once she receives forgiveness she stops being a harlot and starts living a godly Christian life in profound gratitude for her salvation!
On the other hand a virtuous woman must also admit that she can’t buy heaven with good deeds. She also must embrace the cross. It is harder for the good woman because she must let go of her trust in her good works. That’s the offense of the cross!
Paul the Apostle wrote the following under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 2:8&9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (NAS) No matter whether a person is a death row inmate or a philanthropist both can receive forgiveness of sins by humbly asking God by faith on the basis of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Forgiveness is given by grace. Grace means gift!
Once they receive forgiveness both the death row inmate and the philanthropist can humbly present themselves to God and sayWhat good works do you want me to do? Salvation comes before good works!
Let’s not be offended by the cross but rather be humbled by it. We must humbly receive the gift of eternal life by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus and asking for forgiveness.