If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more . . . But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.
Cling to the Credentials of Christ
Five years ago, a former mayor of New York City made a bold claim. He pointed to all his accomplishments and said, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven, I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven.”
The apostle Paul once made the same bold claim. He was an elite Jew from the tribe of Benjamin. At eight days old, he was circumcised according to Jewish law. He grew up in the strict Orthodox Jewish tradition. As a Pharisee, Paul followed their laws faultlessly. If anyone could earn his way into heaven, it was Paul.
But then Paul met Jesus. Jesus showed him that he is the only way to get into heaven. Jesus’ credentials are flawless. His life conformed perfectly to God’s will. His death on the cross paid fully for all the world’s sin. He earned our salvation completely. Paul’s credentials couldn’t compare. So, he tore them up, tossed them out, and clung in faith to Christ’s life-giving work.
Like the former mayor of New York City, we can lean heavily on our accomplishments. We may be good at living by the standards we set for heaven. But no matter how impressive our Christian credentials, they cannot get us into heaven. It’s all garbage compared to trusting Christ our Savior.
Like Paul, those who are wise in Christ cling to him by faith. Christ by his life, death, and resurrection brings us God’s forgiving love. He is the only way to get to heaven. Keep your eye on him, and don’t look back.
Your works, not mine, O Christ, speak gladness to this heart. To whom but you, who can alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee? Amen.