Aside from the obvious non religions like atheism, humanism and so forth, there are only two actual “religions” in the world.
The first is the religion of good works. Believers in this religion believe that there is something, somehow, that they can do to ensure their own entry in to Heaven. There are subsets of this religion: some believe sacraments and rituals, if done properly, ensure entrance into heaven. Some believe in the scale of justice theory of salvation, believing that if their good outweighs their bad they can ensure their entry into Heaven. Some believe that if they just do not do anything “really bad” they can ensure their entry into heaven. Adherents of this religion call themselves many different things: New Agers, spiritual, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, and even Evangelical Christians. Some may call themselves Methodists, Baptists, or any other name one can call to mind.
On the other hand, there is the true “religion”. This is simply the Faith that teaches that absolutely nothing any human can do is sufficient to pay for the sin we have all committed. Our payment is no good here. In the first article in this series, Jesus Paid it All, we discussed the fact that we can each certainly pay our own way for our own sin. That article can be Read Here:
But, as that article shows, the only way we can pay for our own sin is by death, both physical and spiritual. Eternally we pay our debt by being forever separated from God in a place of torment called Hell. That is the ONLY way we can pay for our own sin.
In other words, we can pay our own debt, but we can never redeem ourselves from the penalty of what we have done.
Ephesians 2:8,9 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast
That verse is really fairly self explanatory and says and means exactly what it says. It seems to say it with little ambiguity or room for alternate interpretations. Nonetheless, let’s expand a little on what it is really saying.
We are saved by God’s Grace, through our faith(and even that is given to us by God.) Grace is a free gift of God, not earned by us. No work we might ever do contributes one iota toward our eternal Salvation. We WANT our salvation to be by our works because we really, really like ourselves.
Grace plus nothing equals our Salvation. Jesus Paid it All. He doesn’t need our help to finish the project, His Grace is sufficient. Period and end of the story.
We can’t do enough good to cover our own sin.
We can’t avoid enough bad to cover our own sin.
We cannot do anything in our unsaved state to appear favorable in the sight of a Holy and perfect God.
Our Rituals, Sacraments and Ordinances, while not wrong by any means can never save us.
No sacrifice of any sort can ever save us.
What, then saves us? It starts with Grace. God’s gift of His son who COULD pay for our sin, and did. We simply have to accept the gift by Repentance toward God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.