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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Grace!

This morning we had a particular visitor at Wishaw Baptist Church - a young lady named Grace, the younger sister of our current Youth Worker, and one of the loveliest young people I know.  When I composed yesterday's post, I had no idea that I would see Grace today, but it is very appropriate that I did!

Yesterday, having commented on the fact that, in that realm/dimension that we call heaven, there will be no denominations, but that what will be important will be our discipleship of Jesus, I ended by saying that there is more.  Permit me to illustrate by a story!

A man died, and arrived (as in the popular picture) at the Pearly Gates.  There he was met by St Peter - carrying a clip-board and a pen (perhaps that should now be updated to a Tablet, or some similar electronic device!).  Peter explained to the man that, in order to go through the Pearly Gates, he had to acquire 100 points.  The man was rather shocked (I hope that you are, too!).

"100 points!", he said.  "Nobody warned me about that.  How do I get them?"

"Well," said Peter, why do you think that you should be allowed to enter heaven?"

The man thought!  Then he said, "You know, I was a faithful husband for 47 years; caring for my wife; never cheating on her."

"That's very good," said Peter, "Three points.  Anything else?"

The man was aghast!  "Well,", he said, "my wife and I had four children, and I was a good father to them, and provided for all their needs."

"Excellent!" responded the saint.  "That's worth another three points."

The man thought.  Then: "I was a good, and honest employee with the same company, for 52 years - never took extra time at breaks; first in every morning; last to leave in the evening; never stole as much as a paper-clip."

"Wonderful!" exclaimed Peter, "You've just gained another two points."

"Wait a minute!" said the man.  "Of course!  I attended my church fellowship regularly; tithed my income; made a freewill offering on top of that; served as an elder for 26 years; and often preached the Word at church meetings."

"I wondered when you would get around to that." said Peter.  "Now you're getting somewhere.  That's a full ten points.!

"Ten!" exclaimed the man.  "Only ten!  How many have I got, now?"

Peter totted up the points.  "That looks like eighteen." he replied.

"And I need 100?" the man asked.

"That's the goal", said Peter.

"At this rate," responded the man. "only the grace of God will get me in!"

"100 points." said Peter.  "Welcome!"

It's only a humorous story, but it does make a very important point.  Not only does my denominational background make no difference with regard to heaven; nor do my good works - however commendable they may be (and, of course, I am only too aware of my own failures and shortcomings - what the Bible refers to, simply, as my sins!).  The only way by which I may gain eternal life is the grace of God.  My book Great Words of the Faith (see the heading) has a chapter on the word, but suffice it to say, just now, that it is receiving, from God, what I don't deserve.  By the way, mercy, which is often linked to grace, is not receiving from God, what I do deserve!

Are you trying to 'work' your way to heaven?  Are you hoping that, when you die physically, you will have done enough good to over-ride the bad you know you've done?  Are you depending on a kind of 'balance sheet' salvation?

If you are, please give it up - right now!  You have failed, even before you start.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9).

Grace - it's the only way!

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