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Impossible for man!
- Jacob Ninan
There was a man who went to Jesus imagining that doing a little more good would qualify him for heaven (Mt.19:16). Aren't there many people who think like this deep in their hearts, even though they are a part of a church that believes in salvation only through faith and not by works (Ep.2:8,9)? Do we think like this sometimes? We can know this from our inner thoughts when we think about our death. Do we doubt about whether God will finally accept or reject us? If we hesitate with this question in our mind it probably indicates that we may still have some secret idea of qualifying ourselves in the sight of God by our good works.
For a man to get into God's kingdom by his good works is as impossible as a camel passing through the eye of a sewing needle (Mt.19:24-26)! No man can save himself by being good or doing good (Ro.3:20), because all have already sinned and come into the condemnation of God (Ro.3:23), and the perfect God cannot accept anything but perfection. But the good news (gospel) is that God has done what is impossible for us. He atoned for our sins by suffering our punishment Himself (through the death of His Son), and He now offers this salvation as a free gift for anyone who goes to Him seeking for it as a free gift, as something he can never earn for himself.
The problem with some people seems to be that while they can see themselves as sinners (they are conscious of their sins), they haven't given up the hope of becoming good enough for God! Like a drowning man who beats about with all his strength at whatever comes near, they keep attempting to become better, do something more, etc. But if the drowning man gives up his struggle and allows himself to be taken by the lifeguard he can be easily saved!
In order to stop struggling, we must know two things without doubt: 1) There is absolutely no point in my struggling; it can't get me anywhere, and 2) Jesus is very much willing to save me, and He is right there. It is only then I can place my trust in Him. That is what He is waiting for. If we keep trying to struggle--make ourselves a little better, make some more sacrifices--Jesus has to stand by sadly, waiting for us to come to the place where we will transfer the responsibility of our salvation from ourselves to Him.
There is a passage in Isaiah that illustrates this. "For thus the Lord God, ... has said, 'In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.' But you were not willing, and you said, 'No, for we will flee on horses,' therefore you shall flee! 'And we will ride on swift horses,' therefore those who pursue you shall be swift. ... You will flee at the threat of five, until you are left as a flag on a mountain top and as a signal on a hill. God is gracious and just. Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him" (Is.30:15-18).