Today’s reading is Galatians 3.
Some of the most important life lessons we can teach our kids can come in the simplest moments. As a young boy, I can remember riding in the back of my parents’ car and listening to oldies from the 50s and mostly 60s. This is where my Dad taught me the most important life lesson while likely on the 25 minute drive home from Springfield to Auburn, Illinois from the grocery store or some other errand. A big thing for my father, and now me, when a song came on the radio was to ask, “What is the name of the song and who sings it?” It was then typically followed up by some other fun fact about the band or song. Due to this, I know a lot about songs from this era and I wouldn’t admit it growing up, but I love the music now! Many of you may be familiar with the song “Last Kiss” which was originally a one-hit wonder by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers and re-made by Pearl Jam in more recent years. I’m a Pearl Jam fan, but you just can’t beat the original in my opinion…but I digress. The song is about a boy, who is likely in high school, out on a date with his father’s car when a car is stalled in the road causing him to crash. His girlfriend does not survive, and he gives her a last kiss as she takes her final breaths. The chorus of the song repeats over and over, “Oh where oh where can my baby be? The Lord took her away from me. She’s gone to Heaven, so I got to be good…so I can see my baby when I leave this world.” My Dad loves the song and I can’t help but sing along when it comes on now, but he appropriately taught me at a very young age, “Chet…you know this song is wrong. You don’t get to Heaven by being good. You only get to Heaven by believing in Jesus and that He died on the cross for your sins.” Wow…the most important thing every human being should know taught to me at a very young age while riding in the back seat on a trip we took many times. One of the reasons I also know so much about the music from this era is that the same fun facts and information my Dad would tell me about each song was often told most of the time each song would come on, so this important lesson from the “Last Kiss” was told multiple times and engrained in me, but that’s a good thing. One of my mentors always said, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” This one was definitely worth repeating.
This critical information is what Paul is communicating in Galatians 3. You do not get to Heaven by being a good person or by following the Law.
“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Galatians 3:10-11
Paul says a similar thing in his letter to the Romans…
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
A key part of both of these verses is the emphasis that the only way one could be justified and brought together with God by works would be if you did “all things” correctly in Galatians 3:10 and then the singular nature of the word “sin” in Romans 6:23 tells us even one sin permanently separates of from God without Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the cross. No one, and I mean no one, no matter how good of a person they are in this world will receive the crown of righteousness in Heaven without admission of our sin and belief in Jesus because we also know Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short.
Jesus says this himself in John 14:6.
“….I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me….”
My Dad always taught me that believing one can get into Heaven by being a good person is one of the biggest myths of many Christians even and just not true based on the Word. Some may think this is harsh that there is only one way and wonder why the other “good people” don’t get in. Again, one sin separates us for eternity from God, so by God’s definition there are no “good people” without Jesus. Only He can make us holy and righteous. Only the cross provides the bridge of the great divide between man and God with the fiery pit of hell below due to our sin. This is beneficial for us to because it gives us a clear delineation of how to have eternal life with God in Heaven. Otherwise, we would have no idea what it “good enough” to get in and if past sins might forever separate us from God. This could leave us running ragged trying to do enough good and never knowing where we stand feeling anxious and depressed.
I hope that I am teaching our kids this same lesson of Jesus being the only way and more, but our kids can also teach us lessons as well. Our son Deklin is 6 and probably starting at age 2 or 3 he would say in his prayers he wanted “everybody in the city to know about Jesus.” As we’ve lost a few people we know recently, who were without a doubt good people, and one in particular who impacted so many in our community, this really hits home. Sadly, I don’t know if he knew Jesus, but I hope so. Let us follow Deklin’s prayer and Matthew 28:19-20 and not leave it to chance. I absolutely love the song “Last Kiss,” but I’m very glad J. Frank Wilson had his facts wrong on the way to Heaven because none of us could get there if that was the way. However, due to Jesus’ grace on the cross we can all get there through belief in Him…and so can everyone else…we just need to tell them.