Summary: The people God accepts are ungodly people who trust in Christ alone to save them.
A man who was not raised in the United States enlisted in the U. S. Army. Being a foreigner he had a difficult time with the English language. One day the troop was preparing for inspection and the men realized that unless they helped him, he could flunk the inspection simply due to his struggles with the English language. So one man took him aside and said, "In a few days an inspector is going to come around. Unless you are extremely careful you could flunk the entire inspection just because of your difficulty with the English language. So let me tell you the questions he will probably ask and the answers you must be prepared to give. Now the first question he will undoubtedly ask you is, “How long have you be in the Army?” When he asks that, answer, “Two years.” The second question he will undoubtedly ask is, “How old are you?” When he asks that, answer, “22.” The third question he will undoubtedly ask is, “Have you been receiving good food and good treatment?” When he asks that, simply say, “Both.” Two, twenty-two and both. As long as you can remember those three answers, you should have no problem. But just don’t forget two, twenty-two and both. Then you’ll have no trouble with the inspection, but whatever you do, don’t forget two, twenty-two and both. Just bear in mind two, twenty-two and both and you’ll have no trouble with the inspection, but whatever you do, don’t forget two, twenty-two and both." Sure enough, the inspection day arrived and the inspector came around. Sure enough he asked three questions. The only problem was he did not ask them in the order the foreigner was prepared to answer them. Instead, he walked up to him and said, "Now, I’d like to ask you a few questions, the first one is this. How old are you?" He answered, "Two years." The inspector said, "Well, how long have you been in the army?" He said, "Twenty-two years." Angry and red-faced, the inspector shouted, "Now, what do you think I am? An idiot or a fool?" The foreigner answered, "Both."
Now, I am certain all of us are glad that we weren’t standing in the shoes of that poor man on the day of inspection. And yet we are going to participate in a far greater inspection when we stand before the architect of the universe, the God of all things living and non-living and give an account of ourselves before God. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment." It has been my experience that when you mention the day of judgment to people, their thoughts are varied. Some look forward to it and others fear it. Some feel hopeful, others feel hopeless. Some think they stand a chance, others wonder if they have any chance at all. But for the most part, when you mention the day of judgment to people, their thoughts are not pleasant. They dread the idea of standing before someone knowing their life will be as an open book before him. So for that reason, most people are as excited about the day of judgment as they get about making a dentist appointment. Some time ago a teenager called his dentist’s office and said, "I need to make an appointment." The receptionist answered, "The dentist is out of town. Could you call back again?" The teenager responded, "I’d be delighted to. When will he be out of town again?" And that’s how most feel about the day of judgment. It’s not something they look forward to.
And yet in one sentence, God has an encouraging word for every one of us here today. Because, He tells you how you can stand as perfect before God as His own Son stands - not five years from now or 50 years from now but how this morning you can stand as perfect before God as His own Son stands. And in so doing he answers the question, "What kind of people does God accept and on what basis does He do it?"
But if you are going to understand what God is saying in that verse and why He is saying it, then you have to understand there are three questions God is not asking. Interestingly though is that these are the three questions most people are convinced He is asking.
The first question Romans 4:5 makes clear is that God is not asking you "How many good works have you done?" Most people think that being accepted by God is based on what you do and therefore you’d better do all that you can. And if you ask people, "Do you think you’re going to heaven?" one of the first things they say is "I’m working towards it." As someone once said to me, "I always figured the harder you work the greater your chances." But the first question Romans 4:5 makes it clear that God is not asking is "How many good works have you done?" Because if you will notice, the first phrase of Romans 4:5 says "But to him who does not work . . ." In other words, God does not accept any man on the basis of how many good works he has performed.