Ultimately, it is impossible to buy redemption. You may make and spend billions of dollars on works of great national and individual charity. You may be poor and raise your children to respect the law and raise themselves above that poverty. Acting and performing good works will not redeem you from anything other the perception that the world may hold for you.
You may found universities and charitable foundations. Will you put your name on the action after you have put so much of your personal capital into it? It’s not called the Rockefeller or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for nothing. When you build a new parsonage what recognition do you expect? When your son or daughter rises above your own impoverished state, does that not speak to your credit? Are they not your legacy? Where do you place your pride?
Did you hear about John and Becky’s son? He graduated Princeton, Magna Cum Laude, and got a job as clerk to a Supreme Court Justice. John and Becky did a real good job with that boy, didn’t they? They must be very proud.
It is OK to feel pride in such accomplishments, large or small. It is correct to think that such works can buy redemption at the physical level. It is grossly and dangerously incorrect to believe that any act, however favorably viewed by humanity, will save you for anything beyond what the world has to offer. If the physical world is all you believe and your body is your total essence, then you will believe that there is nothing else about which to be concerned. If you would believe this, then you would be wrong. What’s more, you know you are wrong, but have blinded and deafened yourself to such greater possibilities than you have ever imagined.
There are even those who openly profess to believe that there is a greater existence then the physical and the world as it is sensually known, and believe that what they do and act upon here on Earth will buy them passage into a spiritual eternity. They are as doomed to failure as those who believe in nothing except the physical. You cannot buy a Stairway to Heaven.
I raised my children to respect you. I attended your house religiously, and kept your day holy. I gave to charities and fed and housed the poor. I seek now the rest of paradise and your eternal presence.
To many many of these petitioners he will reply,
I never knew you. Get out of here, you of no faith. (paraphrased Matthew 7:21-23)
Many times in the scriptures, Jesus refers to people being of “little” or “small” faith. At that moment when the petitioner is rejected it will not be because of “little” faith. It will be because they have no faith at all. It is perfectly acceptable to be imperfect in faith. Faith doesn’t become perfect in this world anyway. Perfection in faith comes when we come face-to-face with that in which it is held–and then it disappears because it is no longer needed. It is impossible to have faith in something in which you already have in entirety.
But NO faith is unacceptable. Belief that acceptance into paradise by your own good works is faith in the exact opposite of the faith required.
To those who have some faith that there is a spiritual existence and presence in the person of God and the divinity of Jesus, let me say this: Do you seriously believe that there is anything you can do or give in the physical realm that can come anywhere close to that which the Supreme Creator has done? A great many of you do. And a great many will be eternally disappointed when the time comes. You can’t repay by acts or payments in the mortal world for that which has been sacrificed so that we may be reunited with the tripartite godhead. God himself sacrificed his own spirit to be placed in the mortal and limited body of a human and to be beat, spit upon and nailed to a tree and suffer the most brutal, bloody and painful death imaginable for the sole purpose of bringing you and me back into his love. Is it possible to have any love greater than this?
To think that there is any way we can repay this good for good by ourselves and thereby win redemption is not only illogical in the reason of equity, it is dangerously stupid. You can’t equal it and unless you give up the notion you can, you will not get the reward for which you hope.
So the bottom line is this: Pray for more understanding and adjust your faith to understand that the true faith is that which first loves God and your fellow human prisoners here on Earth. Accept the Love from God that is right there waiting for you. Believe and trust in the sacrifice that has already been made for you. If you do these things then the Love of God will come pouring in and the love will come pouring back out, not only for God but for every other creature who inhabits this ball of blue-green rock.
If you do these things then you will not be able to resist from doing good works. They will become inevitable, and you will win Paradise.