EARNED? Part 1

I was driving in my car the other day when I found myself behind a car with a bumper sticker which read, “Earned, Never Given” speaking of respect. This is a Marine motto. The Marines have a reputation of being a well-trained, well-disciplined and loyal fighting force and we are grateful to them, along with all the other branches of the military, for their courage, dedication and service. Our country such as it is today would be far worse if it weren’t for their protection. It is by no means a denigration to them, but most certainly an elevation of God, when I share what I do today.
Heaven’s motto is just the opposite: “Given, Never Earned,” concerning forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life. The Lord spoke to me in my spirit and shared with me that those in the world who have not been born again (as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in the third chapter of the Gospel of John) have the same mindset as the Marines. They just apply it to their lives differently because they erroneously believe that by their good deeds or nature they can somehow earn a heavenly eternity. Or worse, they mistakenly surmise that because they are not murderers or rapists or the like, they will enter Heaven as long as they stay the course; that they are already good enough—or not bad enough—to be kept out of Heaven and go to Hell. They must think lowly of God’s dwelling, that it is somehow better than earth, but not perfect. Why do I say that? Because if it will receive imperfect souls, then itself cannot be perfect; at least not at the moment the first imperfect one arrives there. (Of course, that is a metaphor because nothing unclean can be in God’s presence.)
Thank the Creator and King of Heaven, Jesus Christ Himself (along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the divine Godhead), that it IS a perfect place. Otherwise, who would want to go there and why? It would be like trading an ’85 Escort for an ’02 Camaro; it might be a step up, but it’s still used and far from ideal.
Thank Him for His MERCY! A perfect God in a perfect Kingdom who made (spoke into existence) a perfect world. What happened? In His perfection He created us with the ability to think and to choose for ourselves, much like a civilian having the choice to enlist and serve his country rather than to do it out of compulsion or out of a wrong motive. Freedom has always been fought for and hard-won, but it is necessary. The trouble lies in making a clear and rebellious wrong choice. You don’t last long in the military, and others who trust your obedience to strategy and orders for their lives on the battlefield or in the air, would not willingly give their lives to save your’s if they suspected such behavior.
However, those in the military should have no problem appreciating Jesus’ suffering and model of the original and ultimate sacrifice (though His was eternal, not temporal). The command He gave to His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Would a soldier or airman go a step further by doing it for many (all) and for a traitor (a disobedient person)? I doubt it seriously. But Christ did! That’s the greatest love and that’s mercy.
Reevaluate your life, your appreciation of and obedience to the “Commander” of the universe. Do you want to be captured by the enemy of your soul and be a prisoner for all of eternity? Or do you want to entrust your life and eternal soul to a merciful, loving, and forgiving (yet also wrathful), supreme Leader in a safe haven forever. Your ransom has already been paid. The arrangements for your release have been fulfilled. What will you do with your freedom and choice? Jesus is coming back very, very soon. Don’t be left fighting or be an eternal POW. Praise the Lord that “now is the day of salvation.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

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