God’s grace is the only means by which we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven—there is no other way.
Jesus taught his disciples that a person needs to have faith if they want to get into Heaven. The disciples later realized that it was only through God’s grace that we can receive this gift of eternal life, through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. Many people sincerely believe that they can earn a ticket to heaven by doing good works. This personal effort is displayed and encouraged through teachings such as the Five Pillars of Islam, the Buddhist Eight-Fold Path, the Hindu Doctrine of Karma, or the Jewish Law. When you boil it all down, this is just human effort seeking to gain divine approval. Even today, there are too many Christian churches focusing on rules and rituals, rather than grace and faith, as if we could be saved through our works and good behavior.
Many would be surprised to find out that even the Jewish Scriptures reject this “pay your own way” philosophy.
The prophet Jeremiah said we can scrub and scrub—using an abundance of soap—but the stain of our guilt will still remain before God (Jeremiah 2:22). Isaiah told his readers that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
The New Testament used this Old Testament prophetic message to conclude that:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So if we can’t earn our own way to heaven, how do we get there?
Religion always focuses on what we must do to earn God’s favor. In contrast, Jesus Christ, who is God, already favors us. He wants to give us the free gift of eternal life.
Bono, the lead singer for U2, spoke in 2005 about how he was seeking to find acceptance and forgiveness before God.
At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—every action is met by an equal or opposite one.
And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.
I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.1
You can keep trying to pay your own way, or you can join Bono and seriously consider what Jesus has done for you.
Who do you believe Jesus is?
“But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
What does your mouth confess about Jesus?
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Have you asked to receive God’s gift?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Are you still depending on your own good behavior to save you?
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Will you ever be able to do enough good works to give yourself peace?
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Having faith in Jesus and accepting God’s grace in your life is exactly how you receive the gift of salvation. It was because of His grace that He sent His beloved Son to be a sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus died on the cross because we would never be able to pay the price of our sins. Only Jesus, who lived a perfect life, could be worthy enough to pay this price.
- Michka Assayas, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, Riverhead Hardcover, 2005.