1/13/13 Ed, about 40
“Is there any good thing you’ve done that God shouldn’t rightfully expect you to do?” I asked this question about five minutes into a gospel conversation with a man named Ed at the grocery store. He had told me he believes he will go to heaven “because I ask for forgiveness and I’m a pretty good person.” I had just reminded him that it is God who gives us our health, money, time, etc., and Ed had agreed that we should use them for good simply because it’s the right thing to do. Now he thought about my latest question, and could see that we can’t use the good that we ought to do to make up for the sins that we ought not to do. “It would be like bribery” I explained, “and God is rightfully offended when we think we can buy His justice by expecting the good things we ought to do anyway to make up for the times we’ve broken His laws.” I had compared God’s judgment and offer of forgiveness to a human courtroom in which a stranger offers to pay the fine for our crime, a fine that we couldn’t even begin to pay. “You did the crime, but Jesus paid the fine on the cross in your place. Wouldn’t it make sense to receive what Jesus has done for you so that you can be forgiven for breaking God’s laws?” Ed answered – “If I did the crime, the right thing to do would be to accept whatever consequence I deserve. I need to be responsible for my own actions” “Ed, that is honorable, but the truth is you can’t take the punishment you deserve – no one can. However, there is a way to still do what is right. Jesus took your punishment 2000 years ago on the cross. You can’t change that fact and accepting it won’t put Him back on the cross. But what you can change is your response – you can honor what He did by receiving what He did on your behalf and then showing your gratitude by going on to live for Him. That means reading the Bible to better learn His teachings and commands, and then following them. In fact, Jesus said ‘If you love me, you will keep my commands’” I think Ed has been taught well by his parents to seek to do what is right and honorable in life. He just needs to realize how receiving and following Jesus is indeed the most honorable thing of all.