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How Good Do We Have to Be?

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This is the title of a book written by Harold S. Kushner. Full disclaimer: before seeing this book on a shelf along with several other used books, I had never heard of either the author or the book, therefore I have no idea of its contents.

What intrigued me about it however was the title, because this is THE question that people have been asking for thousands of years.

Just how much do I have to do, and how good is good enough to make it into heaven?

We all know that the underlying belief system for many people is one based upon works. If you’re a good enough person, meaning that at the end of your life your good deeds outweigh the bad, that’s all that’s required to gain entrance into heaven.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard this all of your life. That’s how pervasive this belief is.

So, is it possible to be ‘good enough’?  If so, how exactly do you measure what ‘good enough’ is? Is there a sliding scale or barometer of ‘good’? Has the criteria for ‘good enough’ been made available to us all?

For the answer to those  questions, let’s go to the official source of information for understanding heaven’s entry fee: God’s Word.

The Psalmist declared that there were none that were good. Not even one!

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.   Psalm 14:2,3

Jesus, in response to the question of “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”, said “Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God…”  Matthew 19:16,17

The man that asked Jesus this question was very wealthy, and believed (like many of us) that the key to inheriting eternal life was found in the word ‘good’. He likely thought he could donate a sum of money or possessions, or that by doing a “good thing” it would ensure him entry into heaven.

Unfortunately for this man (and billions like him), the scriptures are clear that any priority placed on ‘good’ is misplaced. That is because ‘good’ as defined by man is never going to be ‘good enough’.

That is why Jesus said that there is no one good, but God.

In other words, apart from God man can never be ‘good enough’ to inherit heaven. If he could, there would have been no need for Jesus to come and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Indeed, He has died in vain if we ourselves could somehow be ‘good enough’.

If your church or denomination teaches you that God will accept you because of your good works, you are sitting under deception. God will only accept you because he sees that your sins have been covered by the blood of his only Son.

If we were to humble our hearts and really think about it, is there really anything within us that is good, except for the Lord himself? For me personally, I know that the answer to that is NO!

Any good found within me has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him!

How about you?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

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Does it really matter what you believe?

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According to some people it doesn’t. After all, don’t all roads lead to Heaven? And at the end of it all, isn’t God going to give everyone a free pass into Heaven? Or at the very least, give us another chance after death to make things “right enough” to earn a spot in heaven?

That actually sounds nice doesn’t it? I mean, if God is love and all, why wouldn’t He let everyone into Heaven? What kind of God would exclude good people anyway?

I used to believe this, every last word of it. You might say my “religion” was built upon the premise that if God was who people said He was, at the end of the game all of our scores will be added up and guess what?

We all get in because God is a swell guy that sees all the good works we’re doing. You know, working hard to get to Heaven and all that.

Being raised as I was without any religious or Bible education, I was simply doing what everyone else who was raised in similar circumstances was doing; I invented my own religious belief system. A system built upon my own works and good deeds.

And I was doing fine until…

One day someone told me that Jesus was the only way, that He loved me, and that He died just for me, and right then my “religion” was exposed for what it was: just another frail attempt by a sinful man to justify his own sinful behavior.

When I started going to church and reading the Bible for myself, I soon realized just how far off the mark I had drifted. As a matter of fact, reading the Gospels alone was enough to convince me that what one believes actually did matter.

You see, what I discovered was that according to the Bible, there was such a thing as right and wrong. Not only that, but I also discovered that my opinions about it didn’t really matter all that much, because you see the Bible confronted me with a TRUTH that rendered my own opinions pretty much worthless.

This is why it grieves my soul today when I hear people say “there’s good in all churches” (not true). Or when I hear people say ”well, they may not teach it just like the Bible says, but its close enough” (no, it’s not). Or my all-time favorite: “I know they say some things that don’t line up with the Word, but I just take the good stuff and throw away the rest”.

Is God so wishy washy that he considers close enough or good enough to be sufficient? I mean seriously, is this kind of like horseshoes, where close enough earns you points?

Do we really believe that close enough or good enough is really “good enough”? Is this really something we want to leave to chance? Isn’t it serious enough to want to know for certainty?

Can someone even define “good enough” or “close enough”?

And can we of our own making devise a religion that will make us good enough, much like I thought I had done?

Well, not according to God’s Word we can’t!

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;  Romans 3:10

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  Mark 10:18

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Prov. 16:25

It DOES matter what you believe! It matters because it matters to a Holy God, and it is only because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we are saved today.

Good enough? Not me. The only good in me is HIM.

And that’s all that matters!

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worthiness…

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Worthiness.

Many of us do not understand how powerful this word is. Nor do we realize how much of our lives are spent agonizing over this subject.Often,we do it without even thinking about it,as if somehow we are already programmed to feel less than,or unworthy.

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If you think about it,we deal with this issue of unworthiness from a very young age up until we depart this life. School children learn early about pass/fail,which equates to worth/ unworth.Adults have their worthiness judged regularly in the workplace by performance reviews or some other means of determining their level of performance.

 

Our western society is based upon the premise of worthiness.If everyone played by the rules,the worthy would get the degree,the deal,the job,the new car,the promotion,the happy marriage.

The unworthy get the leftovers.The crumbs.They get the dirty factory jobs.In other words,they get what the “worthy”discard.They carry with them the label of “less than”.

For the Christian however,we are not measured by the world’s standards.Our self-worth cannot be based on what others think of us,or whatever particular box they want to place us in.

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There is only one opinion,or authority, of our self-worth that should concern us.That of course is what Jesus Christ thinks of us.

Knowing this of course does not stop the enemy from doing all he can to persuade us otherwise.A great many Christians continue to struggle daily with inferiority and depression.To think that these battles can be easily and quickly won only reveal that we have deceived ourselves.

I have struggled with this issue of worthiness in my own life for as long as I can remember.Perhaps you have as well.From my early childhood I was told that I was never going to amount to anything,and for a long time I believed that.In truth,it became a part of me.

But not any longer.

It took a while, but I have learned that in this life the quest to become “worthy enough” by the worlds standards is a fools game.You can attend all the seminars,sign up for all the self help classes,take all of the personality profile tests there are and end up at best temporarily feeling better.No,the worlds standard of worthiness is unobtainable.

I never realized the gravity of this until I met the Lord and asked Him to forgive me of my sins and to come,live within me.I soon understood that the world does not give,it only takes,but Jesus was a giver.And He never looks down at any of us.

That is why we should always remember that we were “worth” dying for. We are never a “less than” in His sight. Hardly! We who the world thought unworthy have become heirs of God,and joint heirs with Christ.Does that sound to you like God thinks of you as unworthy? Believe me,Jesus has no losers!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life“.  John 3:16   NKJV

To all who struggle with feelings of never being good enough,or that you are damaged goods,or somehow will never make the 1st team,I want to leave you with this:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”.   Jer 29:11   NKJV

Have a blessed Sunday!

Ron