9/10/16 Tony about 30
The guy on the other side of the gas pump had an interesting response to my question about his beliefs for eternity. I had used a "trillion dollar" gospel tract as a conversation starter and pointed out it's trillion dollar question - "Will you go to heaven?" He - Tony - listed several reputable churches he has attended and told of ways he has served in them, like it was self-evident that he is heaven bound. But in my outreach experiences, church involvement has not always been a reliable indicator of one's faith in Christ, so I rephrased my question. "Sounds like you believe in heaven and hell like the Bible teaches, but what determines if a person goes to one or the other?" "The Ten Commandments" he said. This is an interesting response because it can mean one of two things, both worlds apart from each other.
On the one hand it might refer to the purpose Paul gave for the Ten Commandments in the New Testament - "…through the law we become conscious of our sin." God's law, including the Ten Commandments, serves the purpose of helping us realize we fall short of God's holy standard and that we desperately need forgiveness. Galatians 3:24 says “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” It reminds us we can't build a right relationship with God by our own efforts at following the law but that we need the righteousness that is found in Christ.
Unfortunately, that is not the sense in which Tony was referring to the Ten Commandments. As we talked further, I found out that what he had meant was that he has followed God’s law well enough to be saved. Instead of making plain the bad news that we are condemned by our failure to follow the law, Tony thinks the law is good news for people like himself, who generally try to follow it.
But there is a reason Paul called the Ten Commandments the “law of sin and death”. You sin, you die. Period. We are already dead in our trespasses and sins. The law can’t save us. Even if we could somehow repent and perfectly follow it from this point on, we are still guilty for having broken it already. We need a Savior. And it isn’t the Ten Commandments.