There is a joke about a man who dies and goes to the gates of heaven. The Apostle Peter meets him at the pearly gates and tells the man, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You can tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”
"Okay," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart."
"That's wonderful," says Peter, "that's worth three points!"
"Three points?" the man stated confused. "Well here’s more, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service."
"Terrific!" says Peter, "that's certainly worth two points."
"Two points? How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."
"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," notes Peter.
"TWO POINTS!!" the man cries, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!"
"Come on in!" exclaimed Peter.
This made-up story illustrates the amazing blessing of being a Christian. We receive eternal life in heaven not based on our good deeds but solely by the grace of God through belief in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Ephesians 2:8-9 states this well. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. We do good works in response to God’s love, not to earn salvation.
All other religions are works-based. People have to do enough of the right things to avoid punishment. Christianity is grace-based. Those who are unfamiliar with Christianity or new to Christianity can find this hard to comprehend. I went to a concert several years ago and the singer talked a little bit before singing a song about love. He described that, “The number of teeth on a shark is equal to the number of seeds on a strawberry which is the same as the number of seams on a baseball.” He then followed that up by noting, “That is not true, but love does not always make sense either.”
God is all powerful and perfect. We are weak and sinful. It does not make sense that God would love us so much. Yet, God showed His amazing love to us by sending Jesus to earth to pay the price for our sins. We deserve death, but instead Jesus died in our place. Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death and the devil for all time! We now have been freely given eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23. This is Good News that we should talk about, share, and discuss often.
Stohlmann, M. (2020). The world's greatest future. Seattle, WA: KDP.
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.