"Good works" are the essence of every other religion on earth. All other religions strive to earn God's favor and to achieve moral perfection. We see this in the Jewish ceremonial law, the eightfold path of Buddhism, the Hindu doctrine of karma, and the Sharia law of Islam.
But the essence of Christianity is not human effort. Instead, it is God's grace. The concept of grace is unique to Christianity. It is not found in any other religious belief system. The doctrine of grace not only teaches that we don't need to earn our way to heaven, it teaches that it is impossible to earn our way to heaven.
The essence of Christianity is not human effort.
The apostle Paul put it this way: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So it is a tragic and fatal error to believe, "I have lived a good life. I don't need to be saved." Are you trying to earn your way to heaven? The Truth is that no one can ever earn his or her way to heaven. We are all under the curse of Adam's sin, and we are all unworthy of salvation.
Yet no matter how far we have fallen into the depths of sin, we cannot fall beyond the reach of God's love and grace. He has forgiven, redeemed, and restored sinners of every kind—blasphemers, murderers, robbers, slave-traders, adulterers, and worse. Nothing you have done comes as a surprise to God. He is ready to receive you—yes, even you!
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your extravagant grace demonstrated in the gift of Your Son. Thank You for doing for me what I could never do for myself. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more" (Romans 5:20).