Paul uses all kinds of different metaphors to help us understand what Jesus has done for us. For instance, he uses the comparison of a courtroom to show us that due to Jesus’ willingness to pay our penalty for us, we are declared “not guilty” of sin in God’s courtroom.
At other times he uses the metaphor of an adoption. By living and dying for us, Jesus arranged for us to be adopted into God’s own family.
In today’s reading, Paul uses yet another comparison. He compares the reward of heaven to the receiving of a very large gift.
In doing this Paul emphasizes that something like heaven can never be earned. No matter how hard we try, we could never earn enough credits to buy our way into heaven. The cost is far, far out of our range.
Here’s where the metaphor comes in. Paul tells us that instead of trying to earn heaven, we should see that God created another way. God gives us heaven, and we simply trust Jesus (which necessitates that we give up trying to earn heaven by working for it).
Yes. You heard that right. God will give you heaven through faith. No work is required to gain entrance into eternal life.
Faith in Jesus is credited to your account. And that’s all any of us needs to gain heaven.
“What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Friday, July 17, is Amos 5:1-27, Romans 4:1-15 and Psalm 86:1-10.
Lord, it’s almost impossible to comprehend that you would give us heaven as a free gift. I admit, my sinful nature wants to work for it and earn it. Thank you for teaching me so clearly that heaven can only be received as a gift, and never be received as wages for work completed.
Header image based on "Roman Coin" by Portable Antiquities Scheme, CC By 2.0