28 April 2020 – A most important question

If you could ask God one question when we get to heaven and be guaranteed that it would be answered what would that question be? I suspect under the pressure of the moment that some of us would be reduced to silence. Others, who prior to that moment could quickly have stated their question, might have declined to speak because it seemed no longer to be that important.

It is just possible that the questions we would most like to be answered then are not currently of particular importance to us. 

Two thousand years ago Jesus was approached by a wealthy young man who held an important office in his country. Outwardly his life and career would have been viewed by his contemporaries as a great success. But there was a burning question in his mind to which he sought an answer.

It is possible he had asked other Jewish religious leaders the same question in the recent past, but it appears that he was not satisfied with any answers he had received prior to that time. What was the question he wanted to ask?

Luke18:18 states: A certain ruler asked him, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?  All credit to this man for being honest enough to admit that he needed to make changes in his life in order for God to save him. Do you need to take some steps of faith in order to be the person God wants you to be?

However, what this young man had yet to learn was that entering God’s family comes about not through us becoming good enough, but through God the Father accepting the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in our place. Salvation is all of God’s grace not where our good deeds outweigh our bad ones.

Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2:8-10, verses that illuminate what Jesus was explaining to this man. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no-one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Have you grasped the extraordinary nature of the gospel? It is good news to the undeserving.

The focus of some people who want to follow Jesus is what can I do to be good enough for heaven? However, this is to misunderstand the nature of the good news. Jesus died in our place to take the punishment in advance for our sins so that when we simply place our trust in Him as Lord and Saviour we are welcomed into His family. This is the most incredible good news in human history.

The great Methodist hymn-writer Charles Wesley, in the hymn he wrote to describe his own conversion to follow Jesus expressed something of the wonder of what happened that first Easter:  ‘Died Him for me who caused His pain; for me who Him to death pursued, amazing love, how can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me? (Charles Wesley hymn, ‘And can it be’ verse one, CMP 33).

Eternity will be insufficient to wonder how God could go to the lengths He did to save undeserving sinners such as you and me –but He did! The difference between risking eternal ruin and receiving an eternal reward is only two letters of the alphabet: ‘done vs do’. Either it is finished(Psalm 22:31; John 19:30) and we accept Jesus did all that was required on our behalf, or we are still working on it, with no certainty of the outcome. I know which kind of salvation I want to have! 

Our song for reflection today is Charles Wesley’s well known hymn ‘And can it be’

Brian Talbot