2009-06-17 - 17 Cents of Change
John 14:6, I am the way.
There are short phrases in Scripture that sprint sweetly, deeply into our hearts. For by grace you have been saved through faith, Rejoice in the Lord always, The Lord is my Shepherd, God is love, We are children of God, Delight yourself in the Lord. (Eph. 2:8, Phil. 4:4, Ps. 23:1, 1 John 4:16, 1 John 3:2, Ps. 37:4) The list of precious expressions could be greatly expanded, but certainly we ought to include "I am the way" on our list. Christ is the way. How is He the way? He is the way in every way. He is the way to life, peace, happiness, Heaven, contentment, security - again, our list could go on indefinitely. Jesus Christ is the way. He is the way for the sinner to approach the Father. He is the way of substitution for all those who believe in Him. He has taken their transgression against a holy God and He has removed the guilt, stain, and penalty of our failings. Jesus Christ is not simply a way. He is the only way.
It is in this sense, Christ as the only way, that I would like to clarify some. It is so common for us to think along the lines that we contribute, in some manner, to our salvation. We reform our lives, and think that God then is more predisposed to forgiving us. Or we do a good work, donate to the church, give the homeless a fiver instead of the 17 cents of change we have left over from lunch - you know what I mean. It is the mindset that God should reward me, or might reward me, for something I did. We need to obliterate such thinking from our minds. Our best of works, even if done perfectly, are simply what we ought to do. There is no reward for doing what we should. We cannot add our works to the equation of salvation, either as a prerequisite or as a helper in Christ's finished work. What do we think He meant when He said on the cross, "It is finished," John 19:30? I am not against good works. Let us all strive to do good to one another. I am against thinking that they merit salvation or any favor from God. As a pastor, I hear the phrase, "God will reward you for that," from time to time. I always think, If He does, I didn't deserve it. All my reward, if there is any, is tied up in Christ and what He did for me. Without Christ, I am nothing. Without Christ, I know that there is no good thing that dwelleth in me, Romans 7:18.
Good works are not the way to Heaven. Christ is the way to Heaven. What are good works? Good works are the fruit of salvation. Good works flow from our being united to Christ. James tells us that faith produces good works, and without good works, there is no faith, James 2:20. Faith in Jesus Christ is what saves us, and good works are the fruit of trusting in Christ. Christ gives us a perfect robe of righteousness. His righteousness shall we put a patch on His perfect robe, and add our works as a partner in grace? May it never be! Jesus does not begin, for us to finish. He is the way. There is no other. He needs no help, because His work of atonement is finished and complete. It really is silly to think that we can contribute to Christ's work of atonement. Christ is the way to Heaven, and if you would get to Heaven, to the Father, the only way is through Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,