Can Good Deeds Earn You a Ticket to Heaven?

Pastor Jeff Struecker

Let’s discuss the Holy Spirit’s role in specific or special grace. The word ‘grace’ is basically a synonym for gift. It’s when God gives something to you that you don’t deserve or does something for you that you couldn’t earn. When we use the term gift in everyday English, it aligns with the Bible’s use of the word ‘grace’.

Last week, we spoke about the concept of common grace or gifts God bestows upon all people on this planet. These gifts include the air we breathe, our lives, and the sun shining today. God gives these gifts to all, including those who may not follow Jesus or even believe in a higher power. We all receive God’s grace and blessings, regardless of our background or beliefs. This week, we will delve deeper into the specifics of God’s grace and how it manifests in our lives.

Special grace is sometimes referred to as particular grace or specific grace. The common grace is when God makes the rain fall on wicked and good people alike. Specific grace is what God does in the heart and the life of one of His children. Theologians hold differing views on the topic at hand, which can be a bit confusing. However, all Christians believe that God has performed something unique and specific in their individual lives. According to Christian teachings, Jesus’ crucifixion wasn’t for everyone who would ever live. Jesus himself acknowledged this by stating that the path to heaven is narrow and only a few will find it, while the road to destruction is wide and heavily traveled. This concept is referred to as special grace language, and it underscores the fact that not everyone, including those who despise God, will end up in heaven.

The specific grace we’re talking about is the Gospel’s transformative power on your life. Although numerous biblical passages discuss this, I believe one of the clearest and maybe one of the easiest to understand comes from the New Testament. It’s written by Paul to a church leader named Titus. Here’s what Paul says in Titus 3:5, a verse that I want you to commit to memory today.

Memory Verse

That verse is packed with essential language. Firstly, it emphasizes that we cannot earn our way into heaven or achieve salvation through good deeds or righteousness. No one can be faultless for their entire life, so earning salvation is impossible. Instead, the Bible states that Jesus achieved this for us through his mercy. Mercy means we deserve punishment, but the judge decides not to condemn us to death. The Bible uses beautiful language, stating that Jesus washed us in regeneration and renewed us through the Holy Spirit. You see, the Bible says that God’s specific particular grace is 100% accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit. Being a Christian is not about praying, reading the Bible, giving money, or attending church. It’s not even walking down a church aisle, being baptized, or putting your name on a roll. The proof of being a Christian is that the Holy Spirit has done something in your life that nobody else can explain away and that you can’t take credit for.

And when this transformation occurs, it is clear that only the Holy Spirit deserves recognition. This is what it means to be born again and to experience God’s specific grace. It distinguishes you from those who reject Jesus and have no interest in God.

So I will leave you now with a question that I think you should discuss with your family, friends, or small group.

Challenge

Notice the phrase “total perfection” is in apostrophes here, and it’s designed to say 100% perfect from the time of your infancy and your first breath until your last breath. Can any amount of hard work go back and undo a mistake or an imperfection in your life? And you already know the answer to this. But I also want you to consider what this means about trying to work your way into heaven. No, it will require a miracle for someone who is imperfect to become perfect and erase all our mistakes. The Holy Spirit provides this miracle through special grace.