Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). The hope of the Christian is unique. Christians do not hope that they might be good enough to be accepted and rewarded by God. Their hope is in Christ alone.
In other religions there is no real assurance of a reward from God(s). This is because in every other religion human being must work to attain the desired goal. Muslims believe that God places each persons’ deeds on a scale, and if the good outweighs the bad they can enter Paradise. Zen Buddhists seek enlightenment through meditation. Hindus seek first kama (pleasure), artha(wealth and power), dharma (duty), and ultimately moksha (spiritual liberation), each goal progressively greater than the next.
At what point can it be said with any certainty that any person is good enough? Have you ever met a Buddhist that had reached enlightenment? A Muslim with certainty of paradise? A Hindu who achieved moksha?
Even in the Bible, God’s people under the old covenant tried to please God by living according to the law of Moses, following the rituals of their forefathers and trying to atone for their sins by the blood of bulls, goats, and doves. God had commanded the Israelites to live according to these laws, but it was never his intention that the law could be used as a way to earn His favor. Instead, it was a prophetic foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who was God in human form, tempted as all people yet without sin. His perfect righteousness made it possible for Him to be the true Passover Lamb whose sacrificial blood takes away the sins of the world.
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
– Hebrews 10:1-22, ESV
Since the Christian hope is not grounded in what they have done or failed to do, but in what Jesus of Nazareth did once and for all, there is true assurance of salvation from the curse of sin and death. That is why God’s grace is so amazing! It liberates the believer from trying to do anything to appease God. Because of the finished work of Jesus, grace is poured out on undeserving sinner. That is real hope. It is more than a wish that you or I can be good enough–Christ our righteousness is more than good enough. That is real peace. We can have peace with God forever through faith in Jesus.
~ Jared Abbott