The Santa Claus Factor 3

© Scott Hancock - Fotolia

© Scott Hancock – Fotolia

[PART 3 OF 5]

From last time:

I believe that the story of Santa Claus is the story of God!

Let’s continue looking at the parable-like nature of the Santa Claus story, and discover more of the things that Santa Claus can help us understand better about God.

2. The list

© Scott Hancock - Fotolia

© Scott Hancock – Fotolia

The same Christmas song that we discussed last time, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, provides us with further important information about Santa.

He’s making a list, checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.

Revelation 20:11-15 tells us that God has his own “nice list”. It’s called the “Book of Life”. On Judgment Day, if my name is not written in the Book of Life, I will be “cast into the lake of fire”. That doesn’t sound very exciting at all. In fact, that sounds like something I want to avoid at all cost.

So, what determines whether you end up on God’s nice list or His naughty list? Interestingly, it’s the same criteria that determines which of Santa’s lists you end up on. Have you been naughty, or have you been nice? It’s that simple. (This isn’t rocket science, you know!)

Revelation 20 says that we will be judged by our works. What did you do while you were alive? That will determine which list God puts you on.

OK, I know that sounds a whole lot like “salvation by works”, which is contrary to the concept of “salvation by grace”. Or is it? It was God who said, in Revelation 20, that we will be judged by our works. He is the one who will be doing the judging, so He should know. But Ephesians 2:1-9 mentions twice that it is God’s grace that saves us, and even specifically says that we are not saved by works. So which is it: saved by works or saved by grace?

© Barbara Helgason (adapted) - Fotolia

© Barbara Helgason (adapted) – Fotolia

Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Romans 3:23 says that we’ve all sinned. Therefore, the only thing that any of us deserve, based on our own works, is death. We all deserve eternal punishment in hell. There is no way I can ever earn my salvation, because I have sinned. That’s why Jesus had to die in my place, so that His death could be the punishment for my sins. It is ONLY because of God’s grace, as carried out in Jesus’ death, that I have any hope of salvation. It is by grace I have been saved from my sins, not by works, because if I had to rely only on my own actions, the only thing I would have to look forward to is hell.

God’s grace, then, is what saves me. However, I must respond to God’s grace, on His terms, in order to be covered by that grace. If I stand before God outside of the umbrella of His grace, then His grace will not save me. If I don’t accept God’s offer of salvation, on His terms, then I will not receive His gift. There has to be a response on my part, in order to accept His gracious gift and receive its benefits. My salvation relies just as much on my response to His grace as it does on His grace, because He gives me the option to reject His grace if I want to. But even if I respond according to His terms, it is still “by grace I am saved”. Salvation would not even be an option if it were not for God’s grace.

Ephesians 2:10 shows us the beauty of this relationship between God’s grace and my works. Immediately after telling us twice that it is God’s grace that saves us, the apostle Paul says in verse 10 that we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The very purpose for which I was created new in Jesus (by God’s grace) was to spend the rest of my life doing good stuff – working for God! God’s grace is demonstrated in my life by my good works. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” If I don’t “do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do”, then I am not doing God’s will, I am not fulfilling His purpose for my life. If I don’t do God’s will, Jesus said I won’t enter the kingdom of heaven – I’ll be lost.

So, God’s grace and my works are actually part of a package deal; they are inseparable; you can’t have the former without the latter. Salvation is only possible because of God’s marvelous grace. It is only because of His grace that I even have an opportunity to be on His “nice list”. Once I accept His offer of salvation by being baptized into Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins (Acts 2:38), thereby being created new in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:1-4, 2 Corinthians 5:17), I must set about doing good works, fulfilling God’s very purpose for my life. It’s the direction of my life that determines which list I will be on when I stand before God on judgment day. If I choose to spend my life “walking in the light” (1 John 1:7), then “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin”. The converse is also true. If I choose NOT to walk in the light, if I choose not to live my life for God, if I choose to follow my own path through life instead of His path, then Jesus’ blood will not wash away my sins. If I stand before God on judgment day with unwashed sin, I will not enter the kingdom of heaven. I will be banished to the dark recesses of hell to spend eternity. God leaves it up to me to choose how I will live my life, and promises to reward or punish me accordingly.

He’s making a list, checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.

Make sure you’re on the “nice list” – Santa’s and God’s!

Paul O'Rear Signature

This is Part 3 in a 5-part series entitled “The Santa Claus Factor”.
Part 1: “The Santa Claus Factor
Part 2: “The Santa Claus Factor 2
Part 3: “The Santa Claus Factor 3”
Part 4: “The Santa Claus Factor 4
Part 5: “The Santa Claus Factor 5″

Next: “The Santa Claus Factor 4

Photo Credit:

  1. Santa Claus, © Scott Hancock (Fotolia), Used by permission
  2. Santa checking his list, © Scott Hancock (Fotolia), Used by permission
  3. Silhouette of man and cross at sunset (adapted), © Barbara Helgason (Fotolia), Used by permission

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