During the Second World War, radio personality Paul Harvey began ending his daily newscast with a feature he called, “The Rest of the Story.” These factual narratives always concluded with an interesting twist that made for a surprise ending. Listeners were often fascinated to learn that even when it came to stories with which they were familiar, there was always more to the story than what they had previously heard.
This is sometimes true of the greatest story ever told, the gospel of Jesus Christ. There may be more to the story than what you have heard in the past, and the part you may not have heard just might be the very thing that is keeping you from believing what the Bible says about how to be saved from your sins. Let’s begin by reviewing the part you may have already heard, the part that maybe left you feeling skeptical about the Bible’s plan of salvation.
The Bible clearly teaches that you cannot work your way to heaven by doing good works:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5).
Perhaps you’ve heard these verses before, and wondered, “Does that mean God does not want us to do good works?” Since this didn’t seem to make any sense to you, maybe you chose not to believe what you considered to be such an unbelievable gospel.
If that’s the case, it might comfort you to know that God knew in advance that people would wonder about this. That’s why right after that verse we quoted that says salvation is “not of works,” the next verse goes on to say that believers are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:9,10). If you are wondering what it means to be “created in Christ,” remember that God created a creature named Adam in the beginning. Today, when someone believes the gospel, God makes him “a new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17). And just as God’s first creature was created to do the good work of dressing and keeping the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15), believers in Christ are likewise “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” That is, while you cannot be saved from your sins by doing good works, once you are saved by grace, you’ll want to do good works because you are saved (not in order to get saved) to express your gratitude to God for saving you.
We see the same thing in that other gospel verse we quoted, where right after saying that salvation is “not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:5), Paul adds “that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works” (v. 8). Here again we see that after we are saved by grace through faith, God then reminds us to do the good works that we were created to do.
So you see, just because God does not ask you to do good works in order to be saved doesn’t mean He doesn’t want you to do good works! He just wants you to understand that good works come after salvation, not before. Most people get the cart before the horse, and you just can’t get to heaven in a cart like that!
Does the gospel story seem a little more believable to you now? If so, you should know that while you can only be saved by believing, it is important to believe in the right thing! It is not enough just to believe in God, for “the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). It is not even enough to have faith in Christ; you must have “faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25). That is, you must believe that the blood He shed on the cross paid for all of your sins, and that you don’t have to add a single good work to what He has already done on your behalf. Romans 4:5 says:
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
If you are still not sure how to be saved from the judgment of God on your sins, ask yourself this question. If you died today, and God asked, “Why should I let a sinner like you into My Heaven?” what would your answer be? If your answer is anything other than, “Christ died for my sins,” or if you try to add your own good works to what Christ did for you on Calvary, then you are not fully trusting in His blood. Why not rather follow the advice of the Apostle Paul? When a man asked him, “What must I do to be saved?,” Paul replied quite simply,
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30,31).
And now you know the rest of the story!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.
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