Taking Advantage of God?

We shared the gospel with a senior. She hesitated, feeling that if she trusted in Jesus at her age, it’s tantamount to taking advantage of God’s kindness. She had tried to be a good person all her life, and moral by human standards, but readily admitted that she has her faults. However, if she takes up Jesus’ free offer of salvation by trusting in Him so late in life, wouldn’t it be like exploiting God?

We assured her that while she may feel that way, God doesn’t:

  • Isa 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Jesus’ promise is:

  • John 3:15-16 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Man’s way is based on performance. The premise of all religions is that if you try hard enough, if you work at it long enough, you earn your way into heaven. And if one life is not long enough, go through as many cycles of reincarnation as you need till you are good enough to deserve heaven, based on your merit. As much as this appeal to man’s pride, over-estimating his abilities to perform while under-estimating the sinfulness of his heart measured against God’s perfect requirements, it simply does not work. This is because no matter how hard we try, we can never be perfect. None of us are, or ever will be. We can never save ourselves.

God’s way, on the other hand, is based on faith. Performance is not a just system. Some are born with innate qualities and abilities that they start out in life not on the same footing. The world values intelligence, strength, speed, looks etc. While part of these can be developed, some are born smarter, stronger, faster, or more handsome or beautiful than others. To demand the same performance from all is not a fair system. However, everyone can believe, everyone can trust, regardless of whether you are young or old, smart or ordinary, strong or weak, fast or slow, pretty or plain. Because what’s important is not what you can do, but on what God had done for you in Christ. All God asks is that you put your faith in His Son, who sacrificed Himself to save you. Salvation is based on this trust relationship. You can accept or decline God’s free offer, and, depending on your choice, either Jesus pays the penalty for our sins, or we bear the consequences ourselves.

Let me close with a biblical example and an analogy. In John 3 Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus to ask about how to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). As quoted in the Jewish Encyclopedia, “the qualifications of the members of the Sanhedrin are as follows: they must be tall, of imposing appearance, and of advanced age; and they must be learned and must understand foreign languages as well as some of the arts of the necromancer (Sanh. 19a). We can therefore infer that Nicodemus was learned, respected by his fellow men, and elderly. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that based on his achievements, he can enter God’s kingdom. On the other hand, He told him, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7)

John 3 did not record Nicodemus trusted in Jesus at that time. But as we can deduce from John 7:50 and 19:30, he became a disciple subsequently, late in life. Those who trusted in Jesus early in life has many years to follow Him and serve Him longer. Those who trusted in Him late in life has a shorter time to learn from Him and serve Him, but He welcomes both. Whether you board the “Jesus plane” early or you got on at the last minute, you still arrive at the same destination. Don’t ever feel that trusting in Jesus is only for the young who can do a lot for God. It does not depend on work at all!

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Comments

  • Nancy Wu  On May 27, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    She thinks she only has a few faults. She does not know she is drowning in the sea of sins and refusing a helping hand. The sin of an unbeliever is blasphemy to the Holy Spirit which carries a death penalty. Just imagine dying of thirst in the desert and refusing a glass of water ?

    • Pastor Ray  On May 29, 2019 at 8:21 pm

      She readily admitted she is a sinner so that’s not her problem. Her difficulty was having ignored God for so many years, receiving Jesus now seemed like jumping on board at the last minute, when she had done little, if any, for God. It’s a deep-rooted thinking among Orientals that we must do something to prove we’re worthy. But that’s not God’s way. Many fail to see it.

  • Nancy Wu  On June 1, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    God is giving her time to accept His saving grace. I think it is never too late or too early to jump on board from drowning.

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