Sunday, August 24, 2008

Devotion: Sudoku

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity

In Sudoku puzzles, you have a grid of 81 small squares divided up into sets of 9. There are random numbers already in some of the squares and your job is to get numbers 1 through 9 into each of the sets, not repeating any number in the set or in the up and down culumns or right to left rows that the number is in. It's quite a challenge. Many times I have started out right, only to come down to the end of it and find I have messed up somewhere along the line.

There is a spiritual parallel to be seen here. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 7 above.

Here is the sad case of those who have gotten part of the puzzle right but not all of it. They started out with good intentions and even got part of living the Christian life right. They know God expects His people to do good works and they got that part right. But they failed to get the rest right. Where did they mess up? They messed up when they thought their good works would gain them merit with God entrance into His presence. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Did you notice the order here? First comes God's grace and then faith. Our salvation is not by works. Why? Because if it were, then we would be tempted to boast, taking the glory that only God should have. It is only after salvation that the good works come in. In salvation, we are created in Christ Jesus. Why? To do good works. Why? Because God ordained that we should do them and obedience characterizes a true child of God. But the good works come only after God saves us. They do not gain us any merit toward salvation at all.

Where are you spiritually? Are you doing good works, going to church faithfully, participating in the ordinances of the church and doing all the outward things right? Good for you! But when you come to the end of this life, what will God say to you? Will He know you as His own? If you are depending on your works to gain you merit with God then you will be sadly disappointed on that day. Romans 10:13 tells you simply how to be saved.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Don't put the cart in front of the horse. Salvation always comes first, then the works in God's economy. Making the mistake of thinking that works will earn us a place in heaven and merit before God is a mistake with sad eternal consequences. Please don't make that mistake.

John 6:28-29 ¶ Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

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