Are You Trying to Merit Your Own Salvation and Ignoring What God Has Already Done?
Jesus continued to instruct and comfort His disciples shortly before His crucifixion – “’And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.’ His disciples said to Him, ‘See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’” (John 16: 23-33)
After His resurrection, and 40 days presenting Himself alive to His disciples and teaching them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3), He ascended to the Father. The disciples could no longer speak to Jesus face to face, but could pray to the Father in His name. As it was for them then, it is for us today, Jesus is our heavenly High Priest, making intercession for us before the Father. Consider what Hebrews teaches – “Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”(Hebrews 7: 23-25)
As believers, we can spiritually enter into the Holy of Holies and intercede on behalf of others. We are able to petition God, not based on any merit of ours, but solely on the merit of the finished sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus satisfied God in the flesh. We are born as fallen creatures; in need of spiritual and physical redemption. This redemption is found only in what Jesus Christ has done. Consider Paul’s strong rebuke to the Galatians – “O Foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3: 1-2) If you are following a works gospel or religion, think about what Paul told the Galatians – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’ Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Galatians 3: 10-13)
Attempting to merit our own salvation is a waste of time. We need to understand the righteousness of God, and not seek our own righteousness before God outside of faith in Jesus Christ. Paul taught in Romans – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3: 21-24)
Most religions teach that man, through his own effort, can please and satisfy God, and in turn earn his own salvation. The true and simple Gospel or “good news” is that Jesus Christ has satisfied God for us. We can only have a relationship with God because of what Christ has done. The hook and trap of religion always deludes people into following some new religious formula. Whether it is Joseph Smith, Muhammad, Ellen G. White, Taze Russell, L. Ron Hubbard, Mary Baker Eddy or any other founder of a new sect or religion; each one of them offers a different formula or path to God. Many of these religious leaders were introduced to the New Testament gospel, but were not satisfied with it, and decided to create their own religion. Joseph Smith and Muhammad are even credited with bringing about new “scripture.” Many “Christian” religions born out of the error of their original founders lead people back into various Old Testament practices, placing burdens on them that are useless.