Imagine someone came to you and said you could be saved if you bench pressed 750 lbs, but you only had one chance to do it. Could you?
You might try, but I doubt most of you could even lift the bar off the handles.
Now imagine if they came back to you and made you a second offer—you can be eternally saved if you can bench press 3000 lbs just once.
Is that a better deal or a worse one?
Because 3000 lbs is a lot more than 750 lbs?
You might struggle and train and try to convince yourself that maybe, just maybe, you could bench 750 lbs, but as soon as you heard your salvation depended on benching 3000 lbs you would know right away that you were toast.
That’s simple, common, sense, right?
Only the most self-deluded person could possibly take the first offer as bad news, but the second offer as good news, right?
Then why on earth do I keep meeting Catholics, and Orthodox, and Protestants, who tell me that while we can’t be saved by keeping the Mosaic Law, we can be saved by keeping the Sermon on the Mount?
Now, Jesus has some amazing teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. It gives us a picture of how we’ll act in the Millennial Kingdom.
But Jesus also upped the Mosaic ante, so to speak. He put a few more plates on the barbell. Actually, more than a few.
The Mosaic Law said, “Thou shalt not murder.”
Not too hard, right? I’ve never murdered anyone. I don’t plan to. I suppose it could happen, but if that was a condition of eternal salvation, I think I could manage it.
But now listen to what Jesus commanded,
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell” (Matthew 5:21-22).
Wait, what? I can’t even be angry?
And if I’ve ever called someone a “good-for-nothing” or a “fool,” I’m guilty enough for hell?
Uh oh. I’m in big trouble! And I’m pretty sure you are too!
That’s not good news, that’s a curse, right? That’s a threat hanging over both of our heads because there’s no way either of us could ever live up to that standard. It demands perfection of thought, will, and emotion, to say nothing of outward actions.
The whole Sermon on the Mount is like that.
Moses commanded us to bench 750 lbs. Jesus commanded us to bench infinitely more.
If someone taught you that you can be saved by doing what Jesus commanded in the Sermon on the Mount, you might want to actually read it before deciding that you can do it.
But here’s the good news. You actually have two options.
The first option is you can try benching it yourself. You can try to be morally perfect and live up to the Sermon on the Mount. I know how that’s going to go. It ain’t happening. I hope you realize that too.
The second option is that Jesus will bench it for you. That’s right, Jesus will do all the hard work, and you just have to believe in Him for the end result.
As Paul said,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Don’t be a dumbbell. Believe in Jesus for everlasting life.