Sunday, January 3, 2016

Good enough for God!?

Good enough for God?
Sunset.jpgWe tend to think so. This arises from out of our own construction of who we think he, she, it, is. God could not keep us out of Heaven because we have fashioned him, she, it. God may keep others, less nice or naughtier than us from entering for we are the ‘good enough ones.’ How then is it possible for those not up to our standard to have any hope of entering the Celestial city? Are they without hope, locked into fatalism and despair?

There is a historical record of two men considered the worst of their kind. From all accounts they had no chance of receiving a pass into Heaven. One was a king, the other a prominent religious figure of his day.

Manasseh was king over Judah for 55 years. He violated Judah and Yahweh’s covenant, placed idols around the country, in the Temple and worshipped the stars. This man sacrificed his sons to Molech and practiced witchcraft and sorcery. All this corrupted the spiritual and moral life of the nation. His story is in 2 Chronicles 33 of the Bible. Most would write him off. Not the Lord God of Glory who is revealed in the Christian Bible. This true and living Lord God caused Manasseh to be humiliated by Assyria, and terribly afflicted. Sorcery and power could not help him. The affliction did, however, wake up his dormant realisation of the holy and everlasting God. The king cried out for mercy. He repented of his ungodly reign, He sought forgiveness. He made restitution to his people and to Yahweh. He removed the idols and sorcerers. In all this Manasseh was supported by God’s true servants.

The other ‘un-good enough’ for God was religious, devout, moral and intent upon protecting his religion from corruption. He was intent on proving he was worthy of a free pass to Heaven. Paul the Pharisee saw it as his duty to destroy those who were disciples of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. Surely, he would have been acceptable. Paul was sincere, scrupulous in religious observance and an aggressive defender of his belief system. However, in his words recorded in the book of Acts and Timothy he was the chief of sinners. Paul was on rock bottom. No one was under him. He was the worst possible person according to God’s estimation.

Something happened to him on the Damascus road. His self-righteousness and sense of receiving an entrance into Heaven was shattered. How? He came into contact with Jesus. Paul realised this Jesus was the standard demanded for Heaven. This Pharisee knew he was doomed. Was there any hope for the worst of sinners? His testimony in 1 Timothy 1:12-17 is awesome in its simplicity and powerful in its message of grace. Here is a part of it: ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.’

These two men weren’t good enough for Heaven – yet they’ll be there! Manasseh and Paul actually demonstrate the fact that Heaven isn’t for good people. It is for ‘the un-good’ the failures in being worthy, sinners so defined. That means there is hope for all of us when we recognise we will never get a free pass to the Celestial City on our merit. We need something, someone to deal with our failures, un-goodness, and sinfulness. The Bible says that has been dealt with by Jesus on the cross. He forgives when we cry out for mercy. He cleanses when we confess our need for newness. He gives us the quality of life demanded by Heaven’s ‘gate-keeper.’ Therefore, when we admit we are not good enough for glory but are failure we actually open ourselves up to the grace of God. All of that is found in Christ Jesus and becomes ours when we claim Him as our Lord and Saviour.

As Christ Jesus on the cross was able to reach back to Manasseh (and beyond him) and
forward to Paul, He can reach you. The question is ‘will you let Him?’

©Ray Hawkins Jan 4th 2016.

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