The 51% Gospel

the-scales-of-justice

I hear this all the time (even from believers): “If I do more good than bad, I will get into Heaven. If I do more bad than good, I’ll probably go to Hell.”

This is the 51% Gospel.

It’s the “cosmic scale” theory. There is a huge scale in front of God. All the good stuff  I do goes on one side and all the bad stuff I do goes on the other. I’ve just got to do enough to tip the scales over to the good side. JUST OVER HALF, THAT’S ALL I NEED!

OK, let’s set aside Isaiah 64:6 and Romans 3:10-18… and let’s set aside the fact that this idea has ABSOLUTLEY NO BIBLICAL BASIS WHATSOEVER.

The 51% Gospel opens a deluge of concerning questions:

  • How are sins “weighted?” I’m assuming murder “weighs more” than a little white lie. What if I’ve never lied (whoops, there’s one right there), but I did rob somebody: does that, like, cancel each other out or something?
  • How do I know the score? How can I ever know if I’ve done enough?! I mean, am I even close or should I plan on donating a kidney some time in the near future?
  • What about “bad stuff” I committed unknowingly; do they still get put in my account? I didn’t know those things were even bad!
  • What about “good stuff” I did that turned out bad or “bad stuff” I did that turned out good? Who decides which is which?
  • What if I did a “bad” thing so that a “good” thing would happen? (The popular scenario is murdering Hitler to erase the Holocaust.)
  • What if my “good thing” accidently caused someone else to do a “bad thing?” Do I get to defend myself and tell MY side of the story?
  • Is time and culture factored in somehow? OMG doesn’t still count as a “bad thing” anymore, does it? I mean, it’s 2018 for crying out loud. It’s just an expression nowadays. It’s not really taking the Lord’s name in vain. You know that, right?
  • ARE WE GRADED ON A CURVE? Look at my neighbor; I’ve done way more “good things” than they have! If I don’t make it, there’s no way they’re going to make it.
  • What it my scale reads 50% – is there a tie-breaker?
  • Do I get some kind of award if my scale is 100% on the good side? That’s pretty special, isn’t it? I should get a ribbon or something.
  • Here’s a last one: what about my thought-life? What if I did a lot of “good things” but inwardly was a closet-racist the whole time?

Man, I’m tired from just thinking about this, let alone living it.

If this were true, Jesus doesn’t even come into the picture. If this were true, the Cross means nothing because it doesn’t even matter. If this were true, the Resurrection is irrelevant, inconsequential, and pointless! If this were true, we don’t need the virgin birth or the Bible for that matter. We could have saved the earth trillions of trees. Mankind only needed five words: Do more good than bad.

Of course, this is not true. This is a lie.

The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” The 51% “gospel” is not good news; It is terrifying news.

If you have traded the truth for this lie, please just THINK IT THROUGH! Salvation is by faith alone in Jesus alone. That’s it. Anything else is not good news.

Victorious Limp

Genesis 32:24-32
Genesis 32:24-32

Are you wrestling with God over something? Who isn’t, right? Did you know that someone actually did wrestle with God? And I don’t mean “wrestle” metaphorically either. I’m talking literally. God wrestled Jacob in a straight-up, hand-to-hand wrestling match. The first-ever Smack Down occurred in Genesis 32:24-32.

In fact, God wrestled Jacob all night. They wrestled until daybreak and when God saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched Jacob’s thigh and dislocated it. Just a touch. That’s all it took. This showed that obviously God could’ve won at any moment. As dawn was breaking, God said, “Let Me go.” No one can see God’s face and live. But Jacob replied, “No. Not until You bless me.” Ha! Imagine that! The gumption of this guy! God then (I envision with a smile on His face) changes Jacob’s name to “Israel” which means, “he who wrestles/strives with God.”  Then He blessed him.

Why did God do that? If He wanted to challenge Jacob, He could’ve picked any kind of contest: a race, a riddle, or tic-tac-toe. Why wrestling? Well, any of those other contests are not interactive. They keep contestants separate. Wrestling is more intimate. God picked an activity that involved actual physical contact.

I’m not sure, but I figure Jacob had that limp for the rest of his days. I also imagine that he limped proudly. It became his badge of courage, his price for a blessing, and his evidence of a God that loves him.

We all wrestle with God, maybe not physically like Jacob here, but spiritually? You bet. All the time. It’s the “old man” in us rising up. It’s the rebellious tickle in our ear. Envy. Pride. Gluttony. Pick one. But here’s the thing, God will wrestle you right back. He will step into the ring. He wants to bless you.

Wrestling with God, however, does come with a price. You may carry a limp for the rest of your days. But you won’t view that hurt as loss. You will view that hurt as victory. You will want to tell everyone about your limp and what it means to you. You will want to tell everyone how much God loves you and how much God loves them.

God bless!

This post owes a lot to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones‘s “Victorious Limp” via Tim Keller‘s “The Theology of the Cross and Walking with a Limp,” I encourage everyone to check out these incredible links!