Tests come in all forms and are inevitable...we aspire and long to overcome each one victoriously...but seldom, we remember that the greatest test is life!
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Life itself is a test. With every choice, every word, every action, we choose to honor or dishonor God. This is what determines how we finish this race...in Heaven or in hell!
The Bleak Road
The unbeliever is on a bleak road. He tries to work his way up to Heaven and misses the beauty of life passing by. He accumulates good works upon good works or just relies on the times he got it right, to win God's favor on the day of judgement. Much to his surprise, he will find out that his good works are of no worth if they weren't the product of genuine faith in His grace. Unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians, also make this mistake.
Why won't 'good works' bridge the gap between us and God?
Firstly, by relying on good works, we are relying on ourselves. This unveils the pride within us as we boast in our goodness. James 4:6 says, 'God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Being prideful prevents us from seeking God's help.
In addition, 'good works' cannot cover up sinfulness! This was one of the points that shocked me, before I became a Christian! Many believe that God would weigh their 'goodness' against their 'sinfulness' without realizing that the 'sinfulness' is still present, it doesn't vanish. Besides, no matter how many good deeds we've done, God's standards are very high, we can never measure up, thus our 'sinfulness', on the scales (if it were to be weighed), would weigh A LOT more than our good deeds. Heaven is a place WITHOUT SIN, NO SIN IS PERMITTED. All our slates need to be wiped clean of sin, if any of us were to enter Heaven.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Yes, it's not all bad news! There is a way our slates can be clean, if the price, for our violation of God's Holy Law, is paid. As of ourselves, we are imperfect, we cannot pay for our sins; our offerings are worthless and inadequate...
There is only one hope, only one way...Jesus! The only perfect man who ever lived on earth, God-incarnate, died on the Cross to pay for all our sins and redeem us, so that we do not have to face the fiery jaws of hell! All we need to do is believe and trust in this sacrifice of His. By believing and relying on Him, we understand our incompetence, practicing humility and receiving grace and forgiveness as a gift from God. That is the only way out!
The Road is Long
It doesn't end there, in fact this is where it starts... Salvation isn't just believing, but also repenting. We need to show the evidence of our faith in Jesus by a changed life. Resent sinfulness, strive in the Lord for purity and accompany it all with good works. Ah! So this is where good works come in! James 2:14 says, '...faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.' Good works here, are a result of the faith, you're not relying on these to work your way to Heaven, you're just obeying God because of what He has done for you first.
More importantly, we need to live a God-centered life, living sacrificially for the sake and glory of the gospel. This is long, hard, unpredictable, yet a worthwhile road that many have given up on...don't make that mistake, press on. All the struggles we face will be worth it when we hear God say, "Well Done!"
However, I consider my life worth nothing, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace.
1 Corinthians 9:24
Run in such a way as to get the prize
There is only one winning road and it is not easy, but we have a God who is always by our side! With this in mind and practice, we can be assured of how it'll end. With Jesus at the center, we are guaranteed a victorious finish...
May we, with Paul be able to say:
'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.' - 2 Timothy 4:7
Are you on your way to victory or peril? Are you eager to hear a "Well Done!" from God? How are you going to finish the race?