How Do We Get to Heaven?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Attacking God’s Word, Part 7

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One of the most important questions a person can ask is how one can get to heaven: is it by works or by something else? Steve Ham, AiG–U.S., explains.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

Today’s big question: how do we get to heaven?

One of the most popular figures in church history is Martin Luther. Luther lived in a time when the church was heavily steeped in the superstition of indulgences, veneration of relics, and a works-based salvation. Upon reading the Word of God for himself, Luther noticed a continual and consistent message that was very different than what he had been taught. The message was that we are saved by the grace of God through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, and not by anything we can do. 

Luther found that the message of the Bible was that we are condemned under the law and redemption can only be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The church at the time found Luther to be outside the doctrine of Rome, and he soon found himself on trial for his belief in the authority of God’s Word. It was at this time that Luther made his famous statement concerning the authority of Scripture, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” 

Luther’s followers, led by Philip Melanchthon, drafted the Augsburg Confession of faith in 1530. This document was read before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg. It refuted the idea of works-based salvation teachings and stood strongly on the authority of the Word of God.

All such confessions and creeds must be compared to Scripture. Many of the creeds, councils, and confessions came as a result of God raising up men to unite and defend the authority of His Word. Luther’s stand on the authority of God’s Word was arguably one of the most important such stands in church history. During a time when the church had lost its way, Luther opened the door for the common man to read the Bible and allow God’s Word to speak for itself. 

Although disputes still exist, God’s Word speaks for itself on the matter of salvation. We are saved by grace alone, which is received through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Scripture never states that we are saved by our own works. Rather, today’s verse reveals that we are utterly incapable of saving ourselves and that our works cannot save us. 

Although works cannot save, the Apostle Paul states in the next verse, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Any good works that we have proceed from faith in Jesus Christ. We are His workmanship and our good works are done to glorify Him.

Today’s big idea: salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone

What to pray: declare to Christ your gratitude for salvation through faith in Him alone.

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