Mr. Bloomberg: ‘Not by works, lest any man should boast’
Last week, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that he was certain his outstanding accomplishments have gotten him a ticket into heaven. In a New York Times interview, he was quoted as saying, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
Unfortunately, if he made this statement, his feelings are similar to many people who also are either misguided or unaware of the Bible’s clarity on how to get to heaven.
Many people feel that if they are good enough, or do enough good deeds, or are religious enough, or don’t break too many rules, surely they will make it to heaven. But how good is good enough? And how many good deeds must we do? What if we do a boatload, but we fall one good deed short?
The truth is, no matter how impactful our good deeds are, our sinful state contaminates any good deed we perform, regardless of our good intentions.
James Peel (www.denisonforum.org, “Has Mayor Bloomberg Earned His Way into Heaven? April 16, 2014) wrote, “The prophet Isaiah pondered how God’s goodness and our failures could be reconciled saying, ‘You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:5-6) . . . Trying to wipe out our own guilt with good deeds is like trying to sterilize a countertop with a used tissue. It just can’t be done that way.”
Salvation is not based on what we do, but on what God has done through Jesus Christ on the cross.
Ephesians 2:8-9 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Grace is God’s unmerited favor. The well-used acrostic explains grace as God’s riches at Christ’s expense. God’s riches include His love, mercy, and forgiveness, but they are not free. Jesus paid a gigantic price.
God by His grace makes available to us the gift of salvation. We receive what we do not deserve, yet God grants it anyway. God withholds what we deserve (that is His mercy) and gives us what we need.
We are saved through the means of faith. God initiates salvation through His grace, and our response is faith. There’s a great acrostic that describes faith: forsaking all I trust Him. We forsake all other methods by which we attempt to get to heaven, and place our trust in Jesus alone.
Picture it this way. Suppose you fell into a deep pit full of quicksand and you’re sinking fast. All the religions of the world come along and offer assistance. Confucius passes by and says, “Oh, my friend, you are in a pit. Walk wisely in this world and you will not fall into this pit.” Then he leaves.
Buddha comes along, sees your predicament, and says, “Are you miserable? You are miserable because you desire to get out of this pit. Put your mind in neutral and cease all desires and you will no longer be miserable.” Then he leaves.
Then a Hindu comes along and says, “You just think you’re in a pit. There is no pit. It is just a product of your limited consciousness. Raise your level of consciousness to a higher level.” Then he leaves.
Others pass by and suggest, “Just work your way out of that pit.” And no matter how hard you work, you cannot escape on your own.
Then Jesus comes along, sees your desperate condition, and reaches down into the pit and offers His hand. That’s grace. If you take His hand, that’s faith. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it’s a gift of God.”
Not by works, Mr. Bloomberg. Will you take His hand?
[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org and “like” them on Facebook.]