What does it take to get to Paradise on the Day of Judgment?
Is repentance enough? What about good deeds done with the best motives?
Are there any more important questions in all the world?
The title (and subject) of this blog post came up through my recent blog posts and responses. One anonymous Muslim encouraged me to listen to an interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxELIzX2iQ0&feature=player_embedded) which they found very helpful regarding how they could know that they were forgiven by Allah. I gave a response which I felt might be worthy of a blog post in an of itself. Here it is (with some additional comments):
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
I listened to the link you provided. Thanks so much. There were many, many good points that I believe in as a Christian. For example:
I truly agree with the speaker in this web interview that we cannot repent without God working in us to give us the desire to repent. And yes, the very understanding that something we are doing is wrong also comes from God. Indeed, this is part of His boundless goodness expressed to us!
But. . .I would add that the Injeel says we need something more than an understanding of which of our actions are wrong.
And. . .we need something more than our own repentance and good deeds to gain God’s forgiveness – no matter how sincere they are.
We need something that we cannot provide for ourselves to receive forgiveness of our sins from Almighty God.
What is it?
One might answer, “The mercy of God.”
Yes, of course, the mercy of God is essential for forgiveness. But how can we receive that mercy from God that we so desperately need?
The answer is. . .we need a SACRIFICE. . .a sacrifice provided by God Himself for the forgiveness of all our sins.
The Bible says that while God is totally loving (“God is love” – 1 John 4:8), He is also totally just and righteous (“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing” – the prophet Habakkuk, Habakkuk 1:13). The Bible says that all of us have sinned (“everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” – Romans 3:23) and that sin is so serious and abhorrent to God that it absolutely must be punished (“the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23).
Bottome line: we all deserve God’s wrath and punishment on the Day of Judgment because of our sins – big or small. They are all disgusting, loathsome, and detestable to Him. This is terrifying, isn’t it?!
Yes, in God’s sight, there absolutely must be a penalty for sin and that penalty is death. That’s how holy, pure, and righteous He is. That’s how much He hates sin. That’s how serious – deadly serious – sin is to Him.
So. . .when you sin, you will ultimately have to pay for it.
Or will you?
Look at the story of Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son in the Tawrat and the Qur’an (as illustrated in the painting above). When Ibrahim was ready to sacrifice his son, God graciously stopped him and provided a substitute – a ram (The Tawrat, Genesis 22; The Qur’an Sura 37). How incredibly glad that young man must have been to have that ram take his place! How much he must have thanked God for his life being spared! The Qur’an says (37:107) says of this substitute in place of Ibrahim’s son: “We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e., a ram).”
Now, move forward in time two thousand years to the time of Jesus the Messiah. One day John the Baptist saw Jesus walking toward him and said these incredible words about him:
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (The Holy Injeel, The Good News According To John, 1:29).
What did he mean? John understood God’s love for humanity but also God’s hatred for humanity’s sin. John knew the sobering fact that sin had to be punished. He knew this hard but incredibly important spiritual truth:
“. . .without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 in the Bible).
The Injeel teaches that Jesus was the sacrifice for all our sins against a perfectly holy, righteous God. When Jesus died, he was the substitute – like that ram – that we desperately needed. When Jesus died, we see the unbelievable love of God for us and the unbelievable wrath of God against our sins. Both were fully expressed and fully satisfied at the same time.
Finally, the message of the Injeel is that we can know we are forgiven without any doubt when we put our faith and whole trust – not in our good deeds, or even in our needed repentance – but in the grace of God displayed once and for all in the voluntary death of Jesus for us.
So you see. . .you don’t have to pay for your sins. You don’t have to spend time in the hell-fire. You don’t have to fear the Day of Judgment.
A sacrifice has been made. . .for you.
Isn’t this incredible?
Isn’t this Good News?
For these truths, I love God so much. For these truths, I live for Him and may one day die for Him.
My passion is to share this Good News with anyone in the world who will listen.
I needed a savior who would also be my sacrifice. My repentance and good deeds – while very important – could not save me from the penalty of my sins and the wrath of God.