Last week we heard Paul’s presentation of the heart of the gospel and read a list of some of the people who saw Jesus after He had died:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.1 Cor 15:1-11 (ESV)
Many people were fortunate to see Jesus after He was resurrected. The resurrection is key to Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Without the resurrection, Jesus was just a good man.
Jesus came to this earth to die for my sins. He died for your sins, too. God gave us all the opportunity to receive this gift. But because God is righteous (and contrary to some popular teaching), only those who accept His gift of salvation will enter the kingdom. Love does win, but God is holy, righteous and true. We may not think it’s “fair” that God won’t let people who have lived a good life into heaven (unless they have accepted the free gift of salvation), but that’s the way it is. No work will get you there.
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:1-13 (ESV)
In Moses’ time, righteousness came from obedience to the law (works). In our day, righteousness comes from faith – confession that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.
Have you tried to work your way into heaven? It’s not going to happen. Once you’ve accepted God’s gift, you will naturally want to work for God’s kingdom, but “doing” for the poor or the needy, or teaching a Sunday School class, singing on the Praise Team or choir, working the sound system, cooking meals … none of that will get you to heaven. Only confessing and believing will give you a seat at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
For those of you in America, Happy Independence Day. If today is the day you accept Christ’s gift of salvation – Happy DEPENDENCE Day! I will see you again on Friday for the final installment of this study. Next week we will talk about authentic and right worship. See you Friday!