It’s the prevailing theme in Christianity: Jesus died so we can have eternal life. In actuality, everyone has eternal life. The question is will it be in heaven with Jesus or in the lake of fire with the Devil?
In my last column, I pointed out that we can look at what Jesus did on the cross and trust that His blood covers our sins. All we have to do is believe (trust) in the power of Jesus’ blood. By making the simple request for Jesus’ blood to cleanse us of our sins, it will be like the first Passover for us. God will see that we received the blood by faith, and after we die physically we will not be sent to the second death (see 1 John 5:4, plus Revelation 20:6, 20:14-15, and 21:8).
This “not saved by my works” awareness was tremendously freeing for me. I was raised in a denomination that was works-based. My understanding was that if I did enough good things, the “good” checkmarks would outnumber the “bad” checkmarks on God’s clipboard, and I would be granted access to heaven.
Thankfully, I learned that God is a good God who loves me so much that he came to earth in the form of man and sacrificed himself – took my place – to pay for my sins. There was nothing I could ever do to earn salvation. I simply needed to trust in what Jesus did.
That said, in my last column I also pointed out that although we are not saved by our works, we are saved for our works. We learn this in Ephesians 2:10, which says, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Everyone is called to a unique ministry
Please reread that Ephesians passage: We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Most versions say we are God’s ‘workmanship.’ Some say ‘masterpiece.’ The Greek word is “poiēma,” which means something made or created. I don’t know about you, but if I take the time to create something, whatever I make always has a specific purpose.
As a side note, etymology.com, a great website for discovering how certain words came to be, says that the English word “poem” is derived from poiēma. If you think about it, poems are thoughtfully created to convey specific meanings.
That’s how God operates. He thoughtfully made each of us with a specific, unique purpose in mind. And if we’re going to believe the Bible, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us that once we’re saved, God has specific things He wants each of us to do.
The parallel of the lamp
This reminds me of when, as a youth director in the 1980s, I attended the two-week Summit Ministries Christian Worldview course in Colorado. One teenager attending that particular conference went by the name of Camp. He sarcastically chose that nickname because every summer his parents would send him off to Christian camps.
It became obvious to me that Camp was just going through the motions, and I remember visiting with him one evening so I could inquire about his faith. Turned out Camp believed all Christians were supposed to fall into line and follow the list of do’s and don’ts heard from most pulpits. Out of nowhere (read: dropped on me by the Holy Spirit), I thought to tell Camp about the parable of the lamp. The passage is found in the fourth chapter of Mark, verse 21:
He (Jesus) said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?”
Most versions say “candle” instead of lamp, and the Greek word means a portable lamp, candle, or other illuminator. The idea is it’s something that shines a light. That was something Camp was called to do: be a light.
But the kicker came from reading the end of the verse. The lamp wasn’t put on just any old stand. It was put in “its” stand. A specific stand. A stand was created and put in place to hold that specific lamp.
As I spoke with Camp about this, I watched the lights go on for him (no pun intended). His face had “a-ha!” all over it. Camp realized that God had designed a special place just for him – a specific place in life where God wanted him to be a light.
The same is true for all believers. We are not saved to keep our faith to ourselves as one would put a lamp under a bushel. Nor are we saved to sit and warm pews on Sunday morning and maybe do a Bible study on Wednesday evening. We are saved to do the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.
In no way am I suggesting that going to church or doing Bible study is bad. Quite the contrary. What I’m saying is that being saved involves each of us seeking God to learn what He would have us do. In other words, what purpose did God have in mind when He wrote the poem that is your specific life?
In closing, let me cite verses 17 – 18 from the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians:
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has arranged the members of the body, every one of them, according to His design.
God is the ultimate designer. If you’ve not yet done so, please ask Him to show you the lampstand He built specifically for you.