Have I done enough? Grace and obedience

Recently I heard another horror story regarding someone nearing death. The preacher recounted how a dying Christian had raised the unsettling question, “Have I done enough?”

Christians do not need to face death fearing whether they have done enough. They should, however, understand why obedience is important. A healthy perspective will delve into the biblical undergirding of both.

To cover the familiar ground first, as far as scripture is concerned it is erroneous to believe that if we are good enough this enables us to go to heaven. We know who good people are. They show kindness to others, even strangers. They sacrificially help. They live with high morals and ideals. You can trust them.

Yet, all such good people have the same fundamental problem. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23).

God’s righteous judgment is not based upon whether our goodness  outweighs an occasional lie, or some covetousness harbored within our heart, or having centered our lives upon serving our goals. To view God’s judgement as a divine set of scales is misguided.

Rather, God examines our actions and the motives of our hearts to determine whether our lives have persisted in exemplifying righteousness thus living free from sin’s many manifestations  (Romans 2:5-11; Jer. 11:20; 2 Cor. 5:10). Since no one has lived up to this standard all of us stand condemned.

However the great news is that because God loves us, God sent his Son to purchase us for himself. Jesus’ blood has paid the full price for us to be God’s redeemed people (1 Pet. 1:18,19; Eph. 1:7).

Furthermore because Christ’s blood has paid the entire redemption price, God can give us salvation as a gift – even to the worst of humanity. Not a single person lies beyond its reach. Salvation is not dependent upon our works of righteousness, rather it is conditional upon relying upon Christ (Titus 3:4-8; Acts 2:38-41).

We never need to ask the question, “Have I done enough?” Jesus did it all for those who rely upon him.

Grasping this truth brings peace. We can live and die with a confident expectation.

There is another message that might be less commonly heard. However it is equally true.

After writing that we are saved by grace through faith, Paul pressed forward. He explained that God has created his people to do good (Eph. 2:8-10).  God wants us to fulfill living worthily of who he has made us to be. To do this we must obey.

God intends us to fulfill our God given purpose in promoting God’s ways by walking in the light. God does not want us to promote the destructive work of the evil one by walking in darkness (Eph. 4:20-5:21). This is not about “how much,” but rather what trajectory are we pursuing.

Thus whether it was Jesus speaking to the lost sheep of Israel or an apostle encouraging Christians, the message was clear. God’s people are to reject sinful ways and do good, not to earn salvation but to live as God’s people (Mt. 5:13-16; Col. 1:10; 2 Pet. 1:10).

Having become God’s saved people, we are to obey God by living by the Spirit. If we choose to rebel against God, this would cause our Master to cast us out (Mt. 25:14-30). Notice the man who brought an additional 5 talents and the one who brought an additional 2 talents received the same commendation. This is not about “how much,” but rather what trajectory are we pursuing. The one talent man chose to disobey.

What is the bottomline? For those you have relied upon Christ there is never the need to ask, “Have I done enough?” Salvation can be known. Salvation is not dependent upon our works.

God’s saved people serve God and reject serving the ways of the evil one. Such obedience does not merit their salvation, it fulfills their purpose in being God’s people. Refusal to serve God can result in being cast out.

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