There are some things in this life we must do that nobody else can do for us, in order to be right. No one can study for a test for you, no one can take a test for you, and no one can do your exercising for you, except you! If my son studied really hard for his sister’s test, what kind of grade do you think she would get? Do you think he could wear her clothes, confuse the teacher and take the test for her? If my husband exercises every day, will I reap the benefits? These scenarios seem kind of silly, but when it comes to the spiritual side of things, we believe others can do it for us. Someone else can study for me and then tell me what to do. Someone else can pray for my soul. Someone else can do the work and I’ll just sit back and enjoy the reward. Someone else can answer for me on Judgment day.
I have been blessed to be part of a long line of New Testament Christians. I can look as far back as my great-grandparents. Some have been elders, deacons, song leaders, Bible class teachers and even some preachers (Romans 12:3-8). While some have been “faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10), and have studied to show themselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15), I cannot ride on their “coat tails” to Heaven. That is to say, because my grandfather helped to plant a church in Paris, worked to build a church in WV, and was a deacon, I can’t get to Heaven because of his good works. And the Bible is really clear about that: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12
“Work out your own salvation” is an interesting phrase. It doesn’t mean I can come up with my own form of salvation. Salvation only comes in Christ (Acts 4:12). It doesn’t mean I can start my own religion because we know there is only one body (Ephesians 4:4-6) and that one body is Christ’s church and He is the head (Colossians 1:18).
It means we, you and I, are responsible for our own salvation. On that last great day, I will have to answer to God for my own actions (Romans 14:10-12). My husband, mom, grandfather or even great-grandfather, cannot answer for me. It is a humbling thought to know that I, little ol’ me, will stand before the Almighty and answer for my actions whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
And because I have to answer for myself, I had better do the work for myself. If someone else does it for me, how can I say I have faith? After all, James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26) When I am dead and gone, nobody can pray my soul into Heaven. There is only one way to obtain Heaven and that is though Jesus (John 14:1-6). Only I can make the decision for myself to follow Christ. I have to be baptized, no one else can do that for me (Acts 2:38).
It is great to have friends and family pointing us in the right direction, but they can only help and guide us. In order for me to get this right, I must do the work myself. How much sweeter is that “A”, if we study for ourselves? How much sweeter will our reward be if we do the will of God ourselves?
By Kristina Odom
Kristina and her husband, Justin, serve with the church of Christ in Fairfield, IL where her husband is the preacher. Kristina is a stay-at-home mother to their three kids.