"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, Romans 4:4-5 (NKJV)
How can a man be made right with God? This is the central question of the Bible. This is the foundational question that undergirds our lives. If God really does exist (and we believe He does!), and if man lives beyond the grave, then the major question we all face it where will you spend eternity. How can fallen, sinful man be made fit to enter God's perfect heaven?
Human wisdom (and human religion) answers this question by pointing to man. We must perform a certain number of good deeds in order to merit heaven. WE MUST PREPARE OURSELVES. We must refrain from bad and engage in good if we want God to even consider allowing us into His heaven.
But, here's a couple of interesting corollaries to this position:
1. If man EARNS God's favor, then he DESERVES God's favor. If that's true, then God's favor is no longer a gift, but rather a debt. God then OWES us heaven. We can then command God to fulfill His debt to us. The end result is that we boss God around. He is no longer on the throne -- WE ARE.
2. If man can't earn God's favor, then what are we to do? Paul answers: NOTHING. We can only receive it as a gift. But, we might further ask, "Isn't there some level of repentance or cleaning up that we must do BEFORE God will accept us?" Paul speaks directly to this when he says that God "justifies the ungodly." God's justifying action does not come BECAUSE we have cleaned up our act, but BEFORE we clean up! He justifies law-breakers, not law-keepers.
If man's actions are not a factor in our justification, then what is? The answer rings out to us loud and clear: BY FAITH and faith alone. That faith is IN CHRIST ALONE, not in man's actions but in God's provision. Praise the Lord!