Thursday, November 02, 2006

How Many Points Have You Earned?

In his book Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell retells a humorous old tale of a man who died and faced the angel Gabriel at heaven’s gates:

Said the angel to the man, “Here’s how this works. You need a hundred points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things that you have done, and I will give you a certain number of points for each of them. The more good there is in the work that you cite, the more points you will get for it. When you get to a hundred points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man said, “I was married to the same woman for fifty years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” said Gabriel, “that’s worth three points.”

“Three points?” said the man incredulously. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my money and service.”

“Terrific!” said Gabriel, “that’s certainly worth a point.”

“One Point!” said the man with his eyes beginning to show a bit of panic. “Well, how about this: I opened a shelter for the homeless in my city, and fed needy people by the hundreds during the holidays.”

“Fantastic, That’s good for two more points,” said the angel.

“TWO POINTS!!” cried the man in desperation. “At this rate the only way that I will get into heaven is by the grace of God.”

“Come on in,” said Gabriel.

Even though we know we’re saved by grace, isn’t it sad how we still keep a running tally of the points we think we’ve earned before God? I'm grateful for the story's reminder that even our most impressive good works fall short. Of course, if this story were more accurate, the “point total” needed would be in the billions, we’d start with a negative score in the billions, and because of our guilt before God every good work would only take points off the board! That’s what our best works are worth! Thank God for his undeserved favor and mercy. Thank God for the blessed exchange of Christ’s righteousness for our sinfulness.

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