Studio with Samuel Smadja
The “Good News” is it’s not up to you! You’ll never do enough to earn your way to heaven … but you don’t have to. God knew the law alone would condemn us all, so He sent His Son to set us free! The moment you realize your good works are not your worth, you understand God’s unconditional love, and that the only way to obtain His grace and gift of eternal life is by believing His work on the cross was enough!
The city of Jerusalem is the city of miracles. The city of the emblem of suffering and shame—but also of resurrection and redemption! Not only did Jesus die in this city, He rose from the dead here. Today Israel is the returning place for many, many Jews. A few years ago we learned of the Holocaust survivors who now call Jerusalem home; many of them without any other living family or friends to help care for them in their old age. Together, with our partners, we stepped in to care for these precious jewels of God. Now, more than ever, the nation of Israel needs our help. They are suffering from attacks on a daily basis. They're attacking not only their homes and communities, but their way of life. God is calling us for such a time as this to fulfill His command to comfort His people. He is looking for people to work through. He’s calling us to be His hands and feet, His voice crying out with comfort.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God … And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:1-3, 5
We will comfort Jerusalem. We will rebuild, replant, and restore hope to God’s people. We will clothe and feed them. Yet the most important thing we must do is to proclaim the message of comfort, to proclaim their “sin has been paid for.” But this is not just a message for the Jewish people; it is a message for us all.
Pastor Smadja tells a story of a Rabbi on his deathbed. His disciple sat at his side in his final hours and asked, “Rabbi, now that you are at the end, do you feel certain you will go to heaven?” To which the rabbi replied, “I am not sure I’ve done enough.”
So many of us live under this religious system of merit: If you do good, you get good. We live with undue pressure to perform. We strive to earn our right of passage from this life to eternity. We cower from God because of guilt and shame when we think we’ve not done enough, or we’ve made mistakes. Then, we work overtime to make up for any wrong we’ve done attempting to tilt the scale from bad to good. For some; who believe they’ve gone too far, done too much, that there’s no hope they’ll ever do enough good to earn God’s forgiveness; they give up. This is why the message of comfort is so important. God says, “It is finished.” Jesus whispered those words at His end. You don’t have to “do” anything else, because He did it all on the cross.
Calvary was not a mistake. It was not by chance. David prophesied it. He even uttered the words that Jesus uttered on the cross – I’m poured out like water, bones out of joint, dogs surrounding me, pierced hands and feet – this was all before the Romans way of death by cross was even established – No one knew of it. It was a foreshadowing of the suffering of Christ.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? … I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
Psalm 22:1, 14-18
The law makes us guilty—it doesn’t save us. There is no way you’ll ever do enough to earn a place in heaven. The system of works will not work. That’s why God sent His Son. He knew without a sacrificial Lamb, without the Divine becoming human to take on our sins, we would be slaves to a reward system that would never add up, never pay out.
If the Rabbi couldn’t be sure he’d done enough, what assurance of forgiveness is there? No matter how high you climb the ladder of self-righteousness, you’ll always be one rung short. Our assurance is in Christ—The Messiah. The message of comfort is forgiveness. Paid for. You don’t have to earn His forgiveness, His love, His acceptance or a place in His family. You just need to receive what has already been done for you. Accept in your heart the Love Christ showed you on the cross. Your salvation and eternal life is secured when you trust Him as your Redeemer.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”
The “good news” is it’s not up to you. Praise God, you don’t have to depend on yourself to make it to heaven. You don’t have to be good enough or right enough. You just have to accept what’s already been done for you.
He came to give you life and life more abundantly. He has good things in store for you. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Rest in knowing God’s love for you is unconditional; you can’t earn it. He loved you from the beginning, and He loves you today.