9/25/14 Pete about 45
Pete, a fellow shopper at Menards, responded to my question about whether he believes he will go to heaven by saying “I’m working on it”. Pete grew up Catholic, fell away from church, but has started attending a Bible-based non-denominational church after getting married. His initial reaction to my question was to focus on his church attendance, yet as we talked further he professed faith in Jesus rather than trusting that his good works or good character will save him. He seemed to me to be a Christian, but his initial answer of “I’m working on it” seemed more like a works-based belief system rather than the grace-based faith Christians are to have. Later on I pointed this out to Pete and explained what I thought might have happened: “A lot of church people answer that question the same way you did, by saying they think they are going to heaven because of their good works or because they are working on it. There are two things they mean by this. One is they really do think that although they know they are sinful, they think they are “good enough” for heaven, or they will be after they have been working on it. The other though is where I think you are at. You have put your faith in Jesus, and as you look back at your life you see how God is changing you and actively working in your life. You see these changes as evidence that your faith in Jesus is real.” Pete agreed that this is what he had meant, and was adamant that he would never say he was “good enough” for heaven. Some passages in the Bible can be confusing about this also. Philippians 2:12 says to “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,…” This doesn’t say “work for your salvation”, and my guess is that one way to “work out” our salvation means to wrestle with the question of whether or not we truly have put our faith in Jesus, or whether deep down we secretly believe we have somehow earned salvation from the consequences of our sin.