You Can’t Earn It

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” –Colossians 1:21-23

As a kid, I was eager to earn money. When I was thirteen I delivered The Buffalo News in our neighborhood, started my own lawn cutting “business” and became a little league umpire. At age sixteen I got a job working in the dining room at a retirement home. I never knew how much old people loved prune juice.

Earning is a regular part of our lives. We receive money that we earn at work, we receive the grades we earned at school, and we earn respect from others through the way we carry ourselves. Earning is not evil, it’s a good and godly part of life. However, the most important things in life shouldn’t be earned.

We shouldn’t have to earn the approval of our parents. Our children shouldn’t have to earn our love. And we are in real spiritual danger if we think we need to earn our salvation.

Look again at what the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”

The beauty of the Gospel is that through the death of Jesus we are reconciled to God and are seen by God as holy, pure, and blameless. That’s incredible news. However, do you see the caveat Paul adds? … if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel…  Think about what Paul is saying! He is NOT saying that our salvation can be easily lost if we have a bad day or sin in a big way. He is saying that if we shift our hope, we are in trouble.

The moment we begin to try and relate to God based on our good works or performance instead of on Jesus’ good work and performance, we have abandoned the Gospel. We are no longer on established and firm footing if we move from faith in what Jesus has done to faith in what we have done. When we try and commend ourselves to God by earning our way onto His good side or earning our way into a relationship with Him, we have ceased to continue in our faith.

It’s wonderful to work hard and there is great satisfaction in earning, but if you want to come to be in relationship with God, you can only come if you are willing to renounce your own resources and strength and trust solely in the one who gave his body and spilled his blood to bring you to God.
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