A) Pretty good
B) Really Good
C) Better than the schmuck next door
The answer is….D. If you want to go to heaven, you have to be perfect. I don’t mean 95% perfect. Being 95% perfect is like being 95% pregnant. Either you’re pregnant or you’re not. Either you’re perfect or you’re not. What does 99% of the world believe? the answer is either A or B or C. Most people would say it’s A: “If I’m pretty good on the relative scale of goodness, surely I’ll go to heaven.” C also gets a lot of votes: most people are quick to compare themselves to the schmuck next door, or the current nut in the news. We usually only compare ourselves to someone who isn’t as good as we are. The opposite problem also occurs: Many people see themselves as the next door schmuck ~ they don’t see themselves as having any chance of going to heaven. Even more frightening, and this is no joke ~ they think they aren’t as good as Pastor Carl ~ goodness, if only they knew…or they compare themselves to many of you who have been walking with the Lord and have a large measure of faith and a measure of stability by this earth’s standards ~ so they write themselves off ~ they don’t see themselves as ever being able to attain a standard of goodness that is acceptable to the Lord…. When God makes a comparison, he doesn’t compare to me, he doesn’t compare to the schmuck next door, he compares us to his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We all fall short of his divine glory (Rom. 3:23). And I shudder.
God is perfect and he will not allow imperfect people to join him in heaven. God’s standard is absolute perfection in thought, word and deed 100% of the time. That means we are left with only two options if we want to go to heaven:
1) We’ve got to be perfect ourselves.
2) We’ve got to find someone who can be perfect in our place.
Since we’ve all blown #1 years ago, the only thing left for us is #2. If you could truly be perfect in thought, word or deed your entire life, you would go to heaven. But most of us can’t even get out of bed without committing a sin. This is what Rom. 10:5 is all about READ: a righteousness by the law, earning your way to salvation, you’d have to keep the law perfectly in order to attain the prize. Let me illustrate: tomorrow I am sponsoring a contest. I’ll give a $10k prize to anyone that wants to come meet me here at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The first person that can successfully walk on their hands from the church property, all the way down the Rock Road, over to the Jones Road, back to Sumas and the Church wins. No gloves, no stopping to rest, no cars or mechanical devises allowed, no touching down with feet… now suppose everyone in the church shows up… off you go… most of you will be like me and won’t even be able to stand on your hands, but 10 of you manage to balance yourself. After one step we are down to five people, and then after ten feet only two of you are left…. Rachel and April… (oh, the other rule is no hitting each other). April actually makes it past Jack’s house! And that leaves Rachel. Rachel is doing terrific, but alas, even superwoman is forced to drop out just as she passes the bridge a half mile out…. When Rachel talks to me, she argues with me (can you imagine?) she says she deserves the money because she lasted longer than anyone else. I refuse and she argues that I should give her a portion of the money representing the amazing distance she walked on her hands. Again I refuse, and I remind her of the rules of the contest: all or nothing. It doesn’t matter to me if Rachel dropped out before she could get up on her hands or made it all the way around and back to the stop sign across the street. The only way to get the $10k is to walk the entire route on her hands. There is no partial payment.
Nobody could accomplish such a feat. Nobody is good enough to make it to heaven by their own power. Rom. 10:6-8 explain what God has done to provide salvation for us (READ). This passage contains a quote from Deut. 30 ~ Moses is giving his final message to the people of Israel. Knowing he would never speak to them again, he reminds them that God had already revealed himself to them on Mount Sinai. They could never say they didn’t know what God wanted. Not only that, but Moses had proclaimed God’s Word to them for forty years. No one had any excuses. No one could say, “I wish God had done more to make himself clear.” God had spoken. If you have any doubts about what God wants, just read the Ten Commandments. That’s clear enough. So Moses is telling his people, “The Word is near to you, not far away, it is in your mouth and in your heart.” Paul takes these words of Moses and applies them to the gospel message of Christ. If God had spoken through the law, how much more has he now spoken to us through Jesus. The answer is simple and available. You know what you need to do to be given eternal life. You don’t need a new revelation from heaven because Christ has already come among us. You don’t need to say “I want to bring Christ up from the dead,” because he rose from the dead 2000 years ago. Jesus Christ is alive!
When it comes to providing salvation, God has already done the hard part. He sent his Son from heaven to earth, allowed him to live among us and be crucified by wicked men and then buried in the ground. On the third day God raised his Son from the dead. The word is “near you.” Listen to the voice of the Spirit of God speaking to you.
Believe the words of the Bible. The answer is in your heart and on your lips. The answer is simple and available: Jesus is now near to you. He’s not hiding from you, but you may be hiding from him. Lots of very religious people trip up on this very point. They work hard, do good things, pay their bills, go to church, and in general play by all the rules. But guess what! Only God knows how many people who live messed up lives are going to make it to heaven because the criteria is most definitely not our personal achievements. We can never make it by how good we are…
God has come near to us. He is as near as your heart and your mouth. How near is Jesus to the messed up person? Just open the door and let him in. In the well known paintings of Jesus knocking on the door, notice the detail that there is no handle on the outside of the door. Jesus is knocking and waiting for you to let him in. God has done the hard part, and therefore Jesus is very, near. Simple and available. Simply ask him into your heart and into your life. As simple and available as a boy stomping through a puddle… READ Rom. 10:9-10. (The fourth Sunday this month I think I’m going to come back to these two well known verses.)
Why heart and mouth? ~ the two go together. You know in your heart, you let the world know. If you only confessed with your mouth but did not believe in your heart, you’d be a hypocrite. Sounds like one of the major criticisms by the world of Christianity. If you only believe in your heart but wanted to keep it completely private ~ a limited form of Christianity. There are exceptions around the world or in communities where people would be killed for their faith, but that’s different from personal embarrassment or only partially living for Christ.
Look at God’s promise in Rom. 10:11. What this means, if you trust God so completely, heart and soul, you will never regret it. I will never be sorry for becoming a Christian… You will be disappointed in your friends. Husbands and wives are disappointed with each other from time to time. Children are disappointed in parents, and parents are disappointed with their children. Friends leave us, family members forget us, and business partners double cross us. But no one who trusts in Jesus will ever be disappointed. If you put your trust in Jesus, you will never regret that decision.
Paul goes further in verse 12: “For there is no difference between Jew or gentile.” God doesn’t play favorites. No one person or race or culture has a special claim on God’s grace. Tall or short, young or old, rich or poor, educated, non-educated, literate, illiterate, male or female, there is no difference. “The same Lord is Lord over all and richly blesses all who call upon him” (v. 12). God saves all who comes to him through Jesus Christ. He is so rich in mercy that he can show mercy to the whole world and still have plenty of mercy left over.
Rom. 10:13, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” I like the King James Version, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Whosoever….It doesn’t matter who you are. God opens the doors of heaven and invites the whole world to come in. Anyone who wants to can be saved. Sometimes you hear the criticism of Christianity that we are too narrow in our criteria of making it to heaven. The Bible does most definitely say the road is narrow, that you must accept Jesus Christ as Lord. But it’s also true that anybody is eligible…
Salvation is of the Lord. God has done everything necessary for you to go to heaven. He sent his Son who died on the cross and rose from the dead. You have to believe that, trust in it, stake your life on it, rest everything you have on it, and confess that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, and you will be saved.
God made salvation simple; I want to hide it, I want to do my little part to make it available. Are you ready to come home to God? Do you know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Here is a prayer that can help you express your faith: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I have sinned in thought and word and deed. Heavenly Father, I have not loved you as I ought. I have not loved your Son Jesus Christ as I ought. Thank you for loving me in spite of my sin. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. Thank you for raising Jesus from the dead for my salvation. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Thank you for coming in. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.”
It’s as simple as stomping through a puddle, as available as the air we breath? Believe in your heart… not a game, not trying to impress others, but a heartfelt desire for God. God has made salvation simple so that people who are searching can be saved. Salvation is simple so that people who are guilty can know they are forgiven. He made it simple so that those with many doubts can have full assurance. He made it simple so that people like you and me can know we’re going to heaven. That’s God’s simple plan of salvation. It’s good for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Amen.