In almost every area of life you've got to DO something to earn your place. If it's a sports team, you've got to train and outperform others. If it's college, you have to study hard to get the grades. If it's UK citizenship, you have to meet various criteria. If it's a job, you have to do well in the interview.
And this is what ALL the religions of the world boil down to as well.
What must a person do to earn their place in paradise? What must I do to end my life in God's good books?
So, take Islam. The five pillars require me to:
- Recite the basic Muslim creed [shahada]
- Pray ritual prayers five times a day [salat]
- Fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan [sawm]
- Compulsorily give a percentage of my income to the poor and to jihad [zakat]
- Make pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in my lifetime if I can [hajj]
But even when I've done all these to the best of my ability and done my best to obey shar'ia law, I can't be sure of a place in paradise. Allah's judgment is unpredictable, and maybe the only sure way to get a place in paradise is by dying as a martyr in jihad. It's all comes down to doing something to earn my place.
When Jesus was asked by a very respectable man what he must do to gain a place in paradise, Jesus replied 'Keep the Law of God.' When the man said that he HAD kept the Law, Jesus set him a trial. This immediately showed his INABILITY to fulfil the Law in the way God requires. By exposing this good man's inability to keep the demands of the Law, Jesus showed it was impossible for ANY of us to keep the demands of the Law.
There's nothing we can do to earn a place in paradise. We're just not good enough.
This is where trust in Jesus Christ is completely different to all religions. The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ did everything to meet the demands of the Law FOR US.
On the one hand, he gave his own life on the cross: to pay off in full the debt we owe God for our failure to keep the Law.
On the other hand, he kept the Law perfectly, and credits his perfect life to us.
There's nothing you have to do to earn your place in paradise. Jesus Christ has earned it for you, and has promised to give this priceless gift to anyone who will trust him for it.
Pastor – St George's