Summary: In addition to being loved and forgiven by God, it is important that we understand that we are not saved because of what we do, but because of what God has done for us. We are saved by grace.
A. Did you hear the story about the Sunday School teacher who wanted to teach her class about being saved by grace?
1. She asked the class, “If I sold my house and my car and gave all my money to the church, would I get into Heaven?”
2. “NO!,” the children all answered.
3. Again she asked, “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into Heaven?”
4. And again, the answer was “NO!”
5. “Well,” she continued, “then how can I get to Heaven?”
6. One of the children spoke up, “To get into Heaven, first you gotta be dead!”
B. Christian acting groups have done this skit for years. We did it back when I was in the acting group Ambassadors at N.C.J.C.
1. A man dies and goes to heaven.
2. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates.
3. Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”
4. “Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”
5. “That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter, “that’s worth three points!”
6. “Wow, just three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and talents.”
7. “Terrific!” says Peter, “that’s certainly worth a point.”
8. “Only one point?” the man begins to sweat, “How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”
9. “Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” Peter says, “You are up to 6 points. You only need 94 other points.”
10. Flabbergasted, the man cries out, “At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!”
11. Peter says, “That’s all the points you need. Come on in!”
C. Do you know what is one of the most spiritually dangerous ideas? It is the notion that we can save ourselves.
1. That we can somehow be good enough or do enough good to merit our salvation.
2. A person who thinks that way doesn’t think they need God’s grace nor anyone else’s help, they can do it on their own.
3. Where in the world would a person get that idea?
4. It believe it is one of Satan’s earliest and greatest deceptions.
5. Human kind has been buying it “hook line and sinker” ever since.
6. We find this philosophy in numerous self-help books, and most rags to riches biographies.
7. It flourishes in academia.
8. It feeds our pride, fuels self-centeredness, and pleases our flesh.
9. In many ways it is a religion of its own called HUMANISM.
D. In some respects the ideas of humanism sound so good and right. Humanism says:
1. “You can make anything of yourself, if you believe in yourself.”
2. “You can make it on your own – you don’t need anybody or anything.”
3. “The sky is the limit. Nothing is out of reach for you. So press on and climb high.”
4. “Just reach down real deep and pull up hard on your bootstraps.”
5. But what sounds so right and good is, in fact, heresy - and perhaps it is the most dangerous one on the earth.
6. Why is it so dangerous? Because it takes God completely out of the picture. It makes a person their own god.
E. Unfortunately, these humanistic ideas don’t just stay out there in the world.
1. We are very prone to carry them into the church, and they effect our relationship with God and with others.
2. You might hear a person say that their favorite verse of Scripture is “God helps those who help themselves.”
3. Where is that found in the Bible? Actually, it isn’t in the Bible. Rather, it comes from Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richards’ Almanac”.
4. The truth is, God helps the helpless, the undeserving, and those who don’t measure up.
5. If we are not very careful, we begin to emphasize and exalt what we do for God, instead of what God has done for us.
6. That is the heresy of self-sufficiency and the pursuit of salvation by works.
F. A first important step in approaching God is admitting our need for his grace.
1. Instead of striving for a manmade ticket to heaven based on high achievement and hard work, for which we get all the credit, and in fact is an impossibility, I suggest we openly declare our own spiritual bankruptcy and accept God’s free gift of grace.