“NOT GOOD ENOUGH”                               By Pastor YAU

Text: I Timothy 1:12-17                                  November 16, 2008.

 

INTORDUCTION:

1)   Worry of a little girl: A young mother was trying to explain the recent death of her father to her 4-year-old daughter. The girl wondered where her Grandpa was. “I’m sure he must be in heaven,” the mother answered, “because he was a very good man.” The girl sadly replied, “I guess I won’t be in heaven.” “Why not?” her mother asked in surprise. “’Cause I am not a very good girl.”

2)   Worry of many of us: Many people, including some nominal Christians, believe that they must be very good in order to get to heaven. Since we all know deep down in our hearts that we’re not very good at all. Perhaps like that little girl you’re asking, “What must I do to get to heaven?” The answer has been given: Jesus, in his death, has paid in full the price of your sins. Your salvation is free to you.

 

WHY THE DOUBTS?

1)   Because we are not good: Except a few incurable sinners, we all are aware of our sins and the feeling of “not good enough.” God has given to each one of us something we call “conscience” to know we are not good, not just not good enough. In fact, most of us can see our inside as bad. We may not want others to know, much less to criticize us, but we know ourselves, the real moral defective condition on the inside. Therefore we doubt, or know, that we are not qualified to go to heaven.

2)   Because we want to be good: Again, the conscience God has given us demands that we do good in our lives. The ability to know good and evil inherited from Eve when she disobeyed God puts us to face our true condition squarely. We know we are not good, but we want to be good. That conflict between our true condition and the desire to be good creates the doubts on our inside that we are not good enough to go to heaven.

3)   Because we are uncertain: “How good is good enough to go to heaven?” Can anyone answer this question for sure? Religions try to offer various answers to provide comfort to human hearts but no one is sure what God wants or demands from us. All we can do is guessing and guessing is the root of doubts.

4)   Because we are unable: If we are truly honest looking at our hearts and lives, we realize that we are unable to attend to what God or religions ask of us to do good. The desire to be good is one thing, the ability to achieve that is another thing. With the sinful nature on the inside and the world full of sin and sinners on the outside, we know that we are unable to be good or do good enough to go to heaven.

 

PROBLEMS FROM DOUBTS: Man’s way to handle the problem.

1)   I am going to try harder: This is the predominant approach many had tried. Many religions were created from this idea. The rules, traditions, guidelines and good deeds from many religions all encouraging their believers to follow, to practice and to work harder on the hope that if they try hard enough, they may be allowed to go to heaven. Religions like Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism and others, just to list a few, all grow from this approach. These religions are asking their followers to “earn” their seats in heaven by themselves.

2)   I will follow my conscience: Many people, including Chinese, are in this category: I live my life according to my conscience. To these people, their conscience is the guideline or standard by which they measure their behavior. But there is a huge problem in this approach: whose conscience is the standard? Or does God accept your conscience? No one can give any answer to these questions. On top of this: human conscience is polluted at best, corrupted and sinful at worst. No human conscience can be a viable measure to be sure of our spiritual destiny.

3)   I am above all of these: There are many so called intellectuals who will not surrender to any and all of the above like religion or conscience in the area of their spiritual destiny. They depend on their heads more than their hearts in judging their actions and intentions. They don’t subscribe to religion or conscience as rules for their lives. They believe in themselves. They want to set their own rules and comfort themselves by their rules.

4)   I don’t know, I don’t care: If you don’t call them non-believers, they certainly are the atheists: they don’t believe in God, don’t believe there is life after death, don’t believe there is a spirit in them and don’t believe there is a heaven. All they want to know is this world, today, this moment of life. They may feel free of all restrictions or codes of conduct, but they risk one thing: if there is life after death, if there is a heaven, if there is a God, it will be too late to change their destiny when they die. Gambling on your eternal destiny is not a wise choice.

 

HOW DO WE KNOW FOR SURE? (I Timothy 1:12-17)

1)    God gives us strength: “I thank Christ Jesus my Lord who has given me strength.” (1:12) Paul repeated his own statement previously stated in Romans 7:24-25 when he claimed, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ my Lord (that I was delivered) from this body of death.” No one is able to work on himself to be good enough to go to heaven. It is the strength given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the pinnacle doctrine of salvation in the Bible and it is the sole most important difference between Christian faith and other religions.

2)    Be honest on our condition: “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” (1:13) Paul was honest on his former condition before he was forgiven and saved. Hiding our true sinful condition is not going to erase that condition and the consequences. As the criminal crucified alongside with Jesus at Calvary who confessed his sin and crime, (Luke 23:41) we need to confess our sins and the helpless condition to be saved.

3)    Seek grace, faith and love: “The grace of our Lord poured out on me abundantly along with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” (1:14) No one may ever be good enough to go to heave. It is the grace of God, our faith in His son Jesus Christ and the love of a forgiving God that open the door for us to salvation. Without grace, faith and love, no one may be able to go to heaven. We are to seek God’s grace, to put our faith in Jesus Christ and then by the love of God, we will be saved. (Ephesians 2:8)

4)    Salvation for all sinners: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save all sinners.” (1:15) In the eyes of God, we all are sinners. No one is in exception from this true category. Jesus came to this world to save all sinners, even the worst one like Paul when he said, “Among all the sinners, I am the worst.” (v. 15) God won’t reject anyone who will confess his sins and accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

5)    God longs for all to believe: “For that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of all sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1:16) God is never selective in his grace on salvation. He made Paul as an example for all sinners to believe and receive eternal life. It is not how much good we need to work to go to heaven. It is how much God has done to path the way for us to go to heaven.

6)    Heaven is for His glory: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1:17) Going to heaven is never for the glory of any of us. It is the power and grace of God and God is the only one who deserves all the glory and honor. No one may claim any credit in his salvation. No one may brag on God’s grace.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   No need to doubt: Doubting gets no one anywhere. It only burns your spiritual energy for nothing. No one may do good enough to earn his place in heaven. The only way to heaven is opened with the cross of Jesus Christ. He is the designated mediator between men and God. His death on the cross has paid the price of our sins and His grace is for all sinners, even the worst kind.

2)   You can be saved: The grace of God is sufficient for all sinners, including you and me and everyone else in the world. All you need to do is confess your sins, ask His forgiveness and accept his love to be His children. You will be given a seat in heaven because of God’s love, not because of your works.

3)   Never too late to do: Today is the day of salvation, the day of forgiveness. You may confess your sins and ask Jesus to enter into your life and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. He has prepared heaven for everyone who believes in him, including you.