Many are extolling honor and proclaiming accolades upon the Eagle Scout in Southern California for his accomplishment of earning 131 merit badges. The young man has been hard at work at the task for well over a decade. He has invested countless hours earning each one, which demonstrates discipline in many different areas, and in part, reveals his character. As a partial reward he is recognized as only one of two kids, who have ever received all of the merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America. Wow, Kid! Pretty cool.
We look at this and can certainly appreciate this feat, but most of us would cringe at the thought of putting in such effort. Yet, don’t we often feel this needs to be done to “earn” the grace of our God? Don’t we feel at times that we need to earn our salvation? Don’t we “work at it” just a little too often thinking we can merit anything? It seems to us that’s just part of our nature.
But, that just isn’t so, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” That means simply that we are saved as a result of faith…faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ. And God is the one who gives us the grace to have faith. So actually, there is nothing on our parts than can earn salvation, or merit badges of any kind in regards to God’s forgiveness.
In fact, as Ephesians puts it, the entire package is God’s gift to us. It is not a result of our own efforts. So…no one has the right to brag about how they earned their place in heaven, or washed away their own sins. We will not stand before God with an awards sash and say, “See God, let us into Heaven, we have accomplished so much.” No, that isn’t what it takes to “get in.”
The works we do are because we are saved, not in order to be saved. The good works and deeds happen because we are a new creation in Christ, and we naturally perform deeds that are pleasing to the Father. In other words, we bear fruit because we are grafted to the vine, we do not bear fruit in order to be grafted to it.
So take a deep breath and relax. Just know that if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, truly placed your faith in Him, and are truly a disciple of Him, your salvation is secure. That doesn’t mean you can grab an iced tea and retire by the pool for the rest of your life, but you can still rest assured Christ has done all the work which needed to be done for your salvation.
Now, God still wants to use you for His glory, so you still need to figure out where that is. Our works, our deeds, our thoughts so to speak are merely an act of worship back to Him for all He’s done.
The greatest “badges” of all time are the eternal scars which mark the Savior’s hands and feet in heaven as they merit, or give merit to my salvation. They allow me to stand “righteous” before a holy God. And they also reveal the obedience of the Son to do all that God had asked Him to do.
Thank You, Lord! You have done something no one else could ever have done.