When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Tit. 3:4-6).
Imagine the thief who died next to Jesus standing at the gate of heaven. Also imagine some guardian at the gate asking the thief, “Why should I let you in?”
The only response the thief can give: “I got nothing. I lived a sinful life and died before I could do anything to make up for it.”
“Yet,” adds the thief, “the One who died next to me said, ‘Today, you will be with me in Paradise.’ I’m with Him.”
The two claims of the thief are the only claims that will qualify anyone for heaven: “I got nothing,” and “I’m with Him.” There is nothing we can do that will save us from our sin for heaven’s blessings. Yet, heaven is ours when we are with Jesus, uniting our souls to him by faith in his provision.
God “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” He washes us from past sin, generating new life for us by his Spirit – even when we can’t make up for our wrongs. So, whoever confesses, “I got nothing but Jesus,” gets heaven.
Father, your mercy for my messes is astonishing! Help me to count on your loving kindness rather than my goodness, when I stand before you in heaven – or this day.