That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Since I wrote last week’s message, I have been bombarded with a consistent theme to share for this week’s message. It’s all about GRACE!
I feel like I could be a star in a three-ringed circus with all of the hoops I have had to jump through this summer. In addition to responsibilities for Connor, I am jumping through hoops of fire at work to please contractors. And, I mentioned in a previous message the duties I have had to maintain in my yard just so I don’t get a warning note from the neighborhood association. I am simply worn out with everything there is to do.
I must admit that at the top of my list of hoop jumping would be a task I had to complete on Wednesday. I know that the School System is not alone in the requirements necessary for a child to attend the school. I really don’t know how some kids get in the school doors with all that is required to get an education today. I had to go to Vestavia to provide proof of residency so that Connor could go to Vestavia High School. This is not the first time I have had to do this. Not only do you have to show proof of residency when you go to a new school system, you must provide that same information even when you are changing schools within the system…it doesn’t matter how many years your child has been in that school system.
In order to provide evidence that we do indeed live in Vestavia, I had to provide my house deed (I didn’t know what part to bring so I brought the whole packet from my closing that included more than 100 pages). I also had to provide a couple of recent utility bills along with Connor’s social security card and an additional piece of official mail to prove that we live at . Gathering this data can be very taxing. Actual registration is at the end of the month, and just imagine the paperwork that is included in that adventure.
So, I told a dear friend yesterday that I am convinced it is easier to get into Heaven than it is to get into Vestavia High School..ha. After I said that statement, I realized it actually is easier to get into Heaven than most anywhere. But….so many believe that you literally have to jump through hoops of fire to make it into Heaven.
Why do so many people make something hard out of something so easy? I used to think that I had to earn my (or at least maintain my position) by the things I had to do. I figured if I went to church a lot, memorized some Scripture, and behaved myself with regard to following the , that I would be able to prove my residency in the Kingdom.
When we start having the mentality of obligation thus, becoming religious, we lose the whole point of GRACE…it becomes LEGALISM. As said Wednesday night, “It’s not what you’re DOING, but WHO you’re KNOWING.” We need to focus less on doing the “right thing.” We need to focus more on falling in love with Jesus….and the fruit of good works will come naturally, without effort. The “right thing” will be automatic.
GRACE is defined by Pastor Chris as “a free gift that’s available to everyone – it’s received by faith in Jesus Christ.” He also added,”You don’t get your act together to get saved; you get saved so you can get your act together.”
If we continue to get distracted by rules and regulations, we remove the “GET TO” and replace it with the “GOT TO.” That’s no fun! When we fall in love with Jesus those “GOT TO’s” transform to “GET TO’s.”
It’s not the “DO NOT’s” that we push or follow….it’s the kindness of the Lord that leads people to repentance and acceptance of the Savior. He’s called the SAVIOR, because ONLY HE CAN SAVE US! We cannot save ourselves with our “do’s or don’ts.”
It’s a relief that I don’t have to provide a proof of residency when I leave this world. My proof is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I don’t have to keep proving it year after year. My proof of residency was handled when I first received Jesus Christ, which only required confession that I am a sinner, followed by asking forgiveness from the only One without blemish. That’s all it takes. There are some who have never stopped jumping through hoops to earn their way to Heaven, but sadly, they won’t be in the Lamb’s Book of Life if they haven’t surrendered to Christ.
In conclusion, I think that : said it best in the following
Who would look at the cross of Christ and say, “Great work, Jesus. Sorry you couldn’t finish it, but I’ll take up the slack.”? Dare we question the crowning work of God? Dare we think heaven needs our help in saving us? Legalism discounts God and in the process makes a mess out of us. Legalism is joyless because legalism is endless. There is always another class to attend, person to teach, mouth to feed. Inmates incarcerated in self-salvation find work but never joy. How could they? They never know when they are finished. Legalism leaches joy.
Grace, however, dispenses peace. The Christian trusts a finished work.
Grace offers rest. Legalism never does. Then why do we embrace it?
Can you add anything to this salvation? No. The work is finished.
Can you earn this salvation? No. Don’t dishonor God by trying.
It’s not about what we do; it’s all about what he does.
RELIGION VS RELATIONSHIP…NO CONTEST!
ACCEPT CHRIST AND STOP JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS!