I've been thinking a lot about having Biblical responses to some of the opposition and excuses I hear people give as to why they will not submit to Christ and become a Christian. The response I hear most often is by those who admit they believe in God and a judgment day but when asked, "How are you going to get to heaven?" often respond by saying, "He will take into account how good I was to people."
He will take into account your actions but they will not save you, they will only condemn you. What these people don't understand is that they are asserting that God somehow grades on a curve and that His acceptance and love increase by the more things you do to earn favor. To hold this view means that His love and acceptance must also decrease as you do things that are not favorable.
I have thought of an analogy that I would like to use the next time I am doing a 1-on-1 with someone who believes that there is a participatory aspect in the saving of themselves. There is a huge difference between "saving works" and "works of obedience during sanctification." The first one is heretical- there are no works that can save you. However, if your life is NOT marked by works of obedience in keeping with repentance you need to reexamine your life and find out where the disconnect is.
Adoption is a very special relationship to me. We have experienced the gift of adoption in our own lives. How offensive it would be if we told an adopted child, "Well, I know you're adopted, but you're never really going to have the same love as the others get from me. In fact, you will need to work harder to earn my love. I will let you know at the end of your life whether you measured up or not and that will determine your inheritance."?
That would be terribly offensive yet that is the way many people appear to approach their salvation. In Galatians 4:1-7 and I Peter 1:3-5 God speaks plainly about our status in His family. We are adopted and have all rights and privileges as the biological child to be known by name as a member of God's family. There is no favoritism given to those whom God adopts as His own. For if there were favoritism that would be evil.
Could you imagine if I were to tell my children, I'm going to love this one more than that one and I'm going to keep score based on how well or how poorly they perform? If I told my kids that I will love them according to how well they have scored and in the end that will determine their inheritance...how wicked that would be!
Yet, this is EXACTLY what those who say, "God will let me into heaven because I am a good person" or "God will let me in based on how well I treated others" are asserting. If God were this way they are saying God is evil and wicked because He plays favorites and His love is fickle. If we as a society agree that a parent that plays favorites is despicable how much more so would it be to assert that God is anything like that? This is evil and wicked to the core!
So how am I going to incorporate this into my witnessing? I will give a hypothetical illustration using my own children. I will say if I have 4 children and I tell each of them that I am going to love them based on a set of checks and minuses that I will give to them based upon their behavior and one day there is going to be a day when I settle the accounts of each of them which results in them being given an inheritance based upon how well they performed, how fair is that? Is that loving?
It will be easy to explain to them their belief that their personal righteousness will somehow earn God's love, portrays God as an evil parent who is going to give a child love and reward inheritance based upon the child's personal performance. No loving parent would ever do that and neither does God.
I have a witnessing opportunity coming up in less than 2 weeks and I'm going to try this out. If you try this, leave a comment and tell me how it worked.