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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goodness Or Grace

He was "a model student, very keen, very enthusiastic," according to a former teacher, Michael Rimmer. "He was a very nice, friendly person. He was a person who did a lot of good things," added a former classmate, Efemena Mokedi (via  He is educated, wealthy, and cultured.  But, unless he changes, he is lost.

That last statement seems illogical to the average person.  What do you need more than a great personality, friendliness, and good deeds?  Most people say that if they are basically good, moral people, it will be enough to get them to heaven.

Isaiah declared that man's righteousness is like filthy rags (64:6).  Paul wrote, "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).  Do you see what Paul makes essential to eternal life? God's mercy.  God's grace.  God's Spirit.  God's Son. God's plan.  That does not negate obedience (see Titus 2:11-14), but it shows us that whatever goodness we have to commend us is insufficient.  Our standards are inaccurate and incomplete.

Still unconvinced? Guess who is described in the first paragraph.  His name is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  He is now better known to many as "The Christmas Day Terrorist," the man who came so close to blowing up Northwest Flight 253 as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam.  He does not claim Jesus as Lord (John 14:6).  He does not recognize the God of the Bible (2 Thess. 1:7-9).  Abdulmutallab is simply an extreme example that should cause us to reexamine the notion that I can get to heaven by being a basically good person.  Not one person will be in heaven who have not had the blood of Christ applied to their sins (Rev. 1:5; Eph. 1:7).
--Neal Pollard

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