And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
(Mark 14:32-36 ESV)
I have lived long and have been in many churches. In every church there have been members who were confident that they were deserving of salvation. They trusted in their religious activity, their avoidance of basic religious taboos, and, sometimes, they belonged to an organization that claimed to make them better Christians. Their obvious pride and self-righteousness made them offensive to many.
There are many who I have met in society that believe that, if there is a God of judgment, they are good enough. They had a relative righteousness —- comparing themselves to people who they considered more sinful than themselves, they gave themselves a passing grade.
Many religious and non-religious people who are confident in their goodness, believe that, if they died today, they would go to Heaven, if there is one. Some organizations claim that there is one God but many ways to reach Him, and that religious works will satisfy His righteous standard. Does the Bible support this view?
Jesus, the Lamb before the foundation of the world, born to give His life as the sacrificial substitute for all the world’s sin, desired to be spared the agony of being separated from the Father and bearing the shame of a world of sin. Jesus placed the question before the Father. He prayed, “If it is possible.” The Heavenly response was “No.”
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:1-9 ESV)
Notice the beginning sentence and the last. “Dead” is the judgment of God which has already been made concerning our life and our righteousness. Yes, we have already been judged and there is nothing we can do to change that. The Judgment Day will be our face-to-face with the Living God who will execute the eternal penalty for our sins. If we are to escape that penalty, we must, in this lifetime, accept the gift of eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the last verse says, “it is the gift of God, not a result of (religious) works…”
Dead is dead. Some are not deader than others. All are in the same state. So what if you are a better person than me, if you are under the same sentence of spiritual death that I am? Nicodemus was a very good man, a religious ruler of the Jews, a pillar of society, he came to Jesus and Jesus rejected his righteousness:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
(John 3:16-18 ESV)
You may be a better person than I am. You may be better than most people. You may be a pillar of religious zeal. But that is not enough! There is no other way than the Cross of Jesus and faith in Him as your Lord and Savior.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:12 ESV)
There is no other way. Pray now, confessing that you are a sinner and asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Your sins will be washed away. You will begin a new spiritual life in Him. You will have a life worth living.
Contact me if you have made this prayer. I will be happy to help you with your questions. God bless you.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.