27th March 2014


“Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied, ‘…Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?’
Job 4:1, 6 (NIV) 

“I’ve lived a good life,” a neighbour was saying. “I’ll make my case when I get to the pearly gates.” A nice man, generous to his friends, pleasant to talk to, hardworking, solvent and an irreproachable member of the community. Someone had told him he needed Jesus to save him, and he couldn’t see why she was picking on him. 

“We’re getting on a bit in years,” another acquaintance said to his wife as they approached their seventies. “We should maybe think about joining a church.” Another very reputable, morally unexceptional, well-to-do person who had always plentifully provided for his family and was now sensibly considering provision in case of an afterlife. A couple of years of fairly regular church attendance presumably gets you pearly-gate tickets. 

I have nothing to criticise about such people. You can see how they might look around and confidently predict that they should pass muster by any normal standards of human behaviour. After all, the threshold can’t be that high: if seriously undesirable types get forgiven for really nasty sins, then this is one exam they don’t even need to study for. Their blameless ways are their hope, and they are very good people… unless you have some strange and unworldly definition of what it is to be good. 

We always get very surprised, if not resentful, when God’s values and definitions don’t match ours. If being “good” means agreeing with those around you, we expect God to agree with us. If it means standing up for your own opinions, then we expect God to admire us. The idea that God can love us without applauding us goes against our principles, but here it is: Everyone falls short of glory (Romans 3:23), but God wants to save us (John 3:16). Human culture is built upon an unworthy foundation (Romans 5:14), and you don’t have to be a robber or murderer to be a fallen human being: you just have to have listened to the crowding voices of common assent and self-interest. 

The heavens, it is said, are higher than the earth (Isaiah 55:9), and some things don’t commute. However hard we worked for it and however much we gained, none of our Monopoly properties or our Mario health points are transferable. We need a gold-standard righteousness that none of us has ever come up with (Romans 3:10). God had to send it, personified, incarnated, to us (John 1:14). We now have the chance to come to know Jesus and what he stood for (John 14:5-11), to discard other credentials (Luke 9:24) and to express allegiance to him (Mark 14:3). 

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Study by Fiona Jones


About the Author:
Fiona Jones attends the Worldwide Church of God UK in Perth/Fife where she assists her husband in his pastoral role there.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Perth
Combination of house churches and monthly outreach service and lunch
Gillespie Centre, Dunfermline, fortnightly
House churches on other Saturdays

Meeting Time:
11am Saturday

Email:  info@gracecom.org.uk

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Print This Article


Got something to say?