4/29/14 Andrew click for video 22
Hundreds of conversations with Christians and/or churchgoers in general about their beliefs, like the one in this video with a young man named Andrew, have convinced me that by far the most common false belief is that we can earn a right relationship with God and obtain salvation by our good works or simply by being “good people”. It is this idea that that keeps many people from a saving faith relationship with Jesus, or that distracts born-again believers from Jesus as their first love and keeps them from being able to share the Gospel with others. It seems to me something like gravity, constantly pulling us down into this default belief that keeps trying to replace true faith in Jesus. Our human pride constantly wants us to depend on ourselves rather than God, and/or to compare ourselves with others and believe that somehow we are better than them. In this video, Andrew, 22, acknowledged his sin and told me he has put his faith in Christ for salvation, yet when I asked him what would be the difference between someone who ends up in heaven and someone who ends up in hell on judgment day, he pointed to his good heart. “So are you saying you are a better person than they are?” I asked this because, bottom line, if we believe we are saved because of our goodness we are basically saying we deserve heaven but other people don’t. We become like Pharisees, the religious teachers who looked down their noses at others, the same religious teachers whom Jesus exclusively criticized. My conversation with Andrew made me believe he actually has put his faith in Jesus, but has become sidetracked by the false belief in one’s goodness or good works. But if we could get to heaven by our goodness or good works, why did Jesus die on the cross? Toward the end of our conversation, Andrew told me the real reason he had been sitting in that coffeeshop. He had journeyed from a northern suburb of Chicago back to his old neighborhood, and was now sitting in Starbucks, trying to work up the nerve to go talk to his younger brother, Eric, 18, about the Lord. I’m sure part of that nervousness was a confusion about just exactly what the Gospel is and how to communicate it. We who are believers can easily become confused in the fog of worldly ideas that surround us. Paul wrote about this confusion in the first chapter of his letter to the church in Galatia – “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” Let us not turn the Gospel of grace into a “gospel” of works!