Have your ever wondered if you’re “good enough”? Good enough to go to heaven? Have you ever woken up in the early morning hours and wondered? If so, maybe you can take comfort in knowing that the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther had the same worry. As a German monk he prayed to St. Anne to make him “righteous enough”. He fasted, confessed, did pentitance, and practiced all of the spiritual disciplines of the Church but he flet that he was “good enough” or that he had “done enough”. And then one night, as he read Romans 1: 17, Paul’s words jumped out at him, “We are made righteous through faith”. Being good enough, being righteous enough, is not about what we do; it is about about something called “Faith”. And Faith is a gift from God.
In Ephesians 2 we read, for by faith you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God–not the result of works, lest anyone should boast. (vss. 8&9)
Faith is a gift not a work. You don’t have to earn enough points to hit the magic “heavenly score.” As a matter of fact, even if you did, you couldn’t no matter how hard your tried. Why? Because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Nor can you go to a spiritual gymnasium and lift “faith weights” because such a gym does not exist.
Faith is like the manna God provided the Israelites during their 40 year wilderness journey. They were told that they could not be saved for a rainy day. God would provide, and they would have to learn to trust God to provide their “daily bread.”
When Corrie ten Boom was a young girl she frequently worried about whether or not she had enough faith to die as a martyr for Jesus. One night she shared this concern with her father, a wise man. Kneeling beside her bed he asked her, “When you are going to visit family when do I give you your train ticket? A week before? A day before your journey?” “No”. she replied, “you give it to me as I get on the train.” “That’s how it is with Faith,” her father continued. “God gives you the faith you need when you need it and not a moment before.” That night stuck with her as she and her family entered a concentration camp. It stayed with her as she saw her sister die. It carried her throughout throughout the rest of her life as she “tramped for the Lord”.
Not too long ago I saw a billboard that simply said, “He first loved us”. That billboard says it all. When I teach confirmation classes I tell them we are not good to earn “brownie points” or get “stars in the crown”. Nor do are we trying to earn our way into “heaven” or “win” “God’s love”. Our baptism reminds us of the truth contained in I John 4, namely, “we love God because God first loved us.” We do not baptize the worthy or the loveable but the loved. Our salvation is a done deal. It was signed, sealed and delivered 2000 years ago “on a hill far away”. It is not about us but about God.
The good works we do and the lives that we live are our “thank you notes” to God for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Our lives–the decisions that we make, the things that we do and do not do–are not for our edification but God’s glorification. God created us in Christ Jesus, the writer of Ephesians said, so that we can do the good works that God prepared for us to do before we were even born.
Lord God, let my life be my thank you to You for your Saving Love. Amen,