How can you trust in the Lord if the Lord Himself is against you? And here is the problem with all schemes that seek to put even one little work back into the plan of salvation. If I have to prove to God that my faith is genuine, if I have to add one little thing to the perfect work of Christ, if I have to love or desire God as a condition for my salvation – then how on earth am I supposed to trust him? What if I didn’t do enough? What if the law still thunders its curse at me?
4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: (Isa 26:4)
We have a natural tendency to attempt to add our own works to our salvation. We like to think that there HAS to be something that we contribute to justification.
Popular theologians will sometimes separate initial justification from final justification, trying to preserve the reformation doctrine of sola fide and at the same time bring human effort back into the final judgment. This shows how strong the pull is to revert back to our natural religion.
Our natural religion says that we aren’t as bad as God says we are. That we are at bottom pretty good people who just made a few mistakes along the way. Natural religion also views God as a harsh judge to others, but far more lenient with US and those just like us. The first priest of the natural religion was Cain.
But the Bible doesn’t allow us to fudge on the holiness of God. God as a just judge should rightly cause us to tremble in terror, because we are on the wrong side of that justice, and we all know it.
But Christian doctrine is as opposed to natural religion as east is from west, as oil from water. Christian doctrine places God’s acceptance of us in the righteousness of another – Jesus Christ. It is only His righteousness that can stand before the judgment throne. God does not now and never will accept “good intentions” in the place of perfect righteousness.
Not even a game show host will accept “I was just going to say that” in the place of the correct answer. How much less will a perfect, holy God accept “I was just going to do that” instead of perfect righteousness?
But God has provided that perfect righteousness. It is found in only one place. He sent forth his Son, made of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were born under the law (Galatians 4:45).
And here is an important implication of this doctrine, which will affect everything that you do:
We are called to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. We have no other place to stand. Doctors fail, with a 100% failure rate – eventually. Politicians never bring change. Horses won’t save us. Princes won’t save us. Knowledge and science won’t bring peace to our souls or stave off death.
The wisdom of the world changes every few years. The opinions of men cannot even settle what kinds of foods are healthy and what are not, how much less can they tell us how to be accepted by the Holy One of Israel?
Men and women, above all, battle a ferocious enemy whose weapons are fear, shame and guilt. He drives humanity to extreme cruelty, extreme despair, extreme illness, extreme mistrust and hatred.
And this enemy is far, far too powerful for us. Where will we turn for salvation? Where will we stand when all around is sinking sand? Where will we find rest? Who will take away our distress?
And here is the kicker: You cannot trust anyone if you are not fully persuaded that they are actually on your side.