In another article (199) we took note of Jesus' statement that in the day of judgment He will reject everyone who bases their claim of a place in Heaven upon what they have done in His name (Matthew 7:22-23). That is an awesome statement! It means that no one will be admitted to Jesus' Heaven whose claim to access is based upon what they have done for Him.Why?
There are a few good reasons. First, and most important, is the reason found in the Gospel itself. The Gospel is a message of what Jesus has done for us. This is a critical issue. When men turn the Gospel around from what He has done for us to what we must do for Him, there is a total confusion of the Gospel. In fact, the subversion of the Gospel is fundamentally the claim that men go to Heaven based upon how they have responded to, and served, Jesus Christ. Please do not miss this: the Gospel is a declaration of what Jesus did for us, not what we do for Him.
To get this really clear in your mind, answer this question: can my place in heaven be revoked if I do some really bad thing? If you said, Yes, then you have bought into the perversion of the Gospel that says Heaven is for those who do the right things for Jesus and Hell is for those who do the wrong things to Jesus.
Do you see this? If your place in Heaven can be revoked because of what you do or refuse to do, then your Gospel is that Heaven is for those who perform correctly. Jesus Himself said that He would reject all who come to Him on that basis!Why? Doesn't God want us to behave ourselves? Sure He does! But our ability to behave ourselves is tied to what we believe and if we believe in our ability to behave ourselves, we are deluded and, therefore, incapable of behaving ourselves.
Right behavior springs from right faith. If we believe in our ability, then we don't depend on Him for His gracious power to enable us. If we do not depend on Him for His gracious power, we will not have the power to behave. We will simply be deluded in our self-righteousness and our self-ability.
This is why the Gospel is fundamentally a promise and not a law. Laws demand performance. Promise offers the performance of another on our behalf. If the Gospel is Law, then we must behave in order to obtain eternal life. But if the Gospel is Promise, then we must simply believe in order to obtain eternal life.
We must decide where we are going to camp on this issue. If we believe that Heaven is a reward for right behavior, then we must behave and if we do not we will be rejected from Heaven. But, on the other hand, if we believe that Heaven is a reward of faith in the right behavior of the Son of God in our stead, then we will not only have a secured place in Heaven, we will have a faith in this present world that will enable us to behave out of love and not out of necessity.
God only saves those who believe; not those who insist on doing in order to qualify. Jesus said so.