By Marcia Hornok
Many people think that receiving eternal life and “qualifying” for heaven when we die is like being in a deep ditch with slippery sides. We can’t get out on our own. So God reaches down while we try to scramble up as much as we can; He will grab us and do the rest.
This concept has two problems: 1) God does not need our help! When Jesus offered Himself by crucifixion, as the sinless sacrifice for our sins, He cried out, “It is finished.” This was an accounting term used when a debt had been paid. Jesus “paid in full” the penalty for our sinful rebellion and disobedience against God when He took the punishment we deserved.
2) This analogy is found nowhere in Scripture. A better analogy for eternal life pictures us as drowning in sin. We are going down for the last time and cannot save ourselves. We must be rescued. The nail-pierced hand of Jesus reaches out to us. Will we respond to Him by faith or not?
The Philippian jailer of Acts 16 felt so hopeless, he drew his sword to take his own life, until Paul stopped him. “What must I do to be saved?” he asked. Paul and Silas answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” They added no qualifications—no steps he could take to make himself “worthy” of eternal life. It was not a case of him doing his part and God doing the rest. The jailer could do nothing except believe only in Jesus.
Do you understand that God offers forgiveness and salvation as a free gift? “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” (Eph 2:8-9). We can do nothing to earn or deserve salvation or pay God back. When we believe in Christ alone for eternal life, He rescues us from sin, gives us His righteousness, and saves us forever.
Where are you spiritually? Still in the ditch trying in vain to claw your way up the slippery bank? Or have you believed what Jesus
said and been rescued?
Marcia Hornok writes from Salt Lake City, where her husband Ken pastored Midvalley Bible Church for 39 years. They enjoy the blessing of living within walking distance of 10 out of 12 grandchildren. Her books include Fruit of the Spirit: Inspiration for Women from Galatians 5:22-23.