How are we saved? How are we brought into the Kingdom? It is a most wondrous mystery, the Mysterium Fidei of God's mercy towards us.
"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)
and again:"Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"(John 3:5).
For we are born sinful, tainted from the sin of our first parents, besmirched by the disobedience and pride of Adam and Eve. In Ephesians 2:8-9, we are told " For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you: it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast." And yet we are also told (2 Corinthians 5:10) - "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. " And let us not forget Matthew 25: 31-46, where Jesus speaks about how we will be judged on how we treat one another. We have been given the gift of salvation, but we can cherish it and live accordingly - or we can choose to cast it away, trample it in the mud, and squander this precious gift. Are we saved through faith, works, or grace? I think that salvation involves all of these. God does not present us with an eithor/or, but rather a both/and.
And let us not forget the warning Jesus gave us about the sin of presumption:
"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21).
I pray that God will show me mercy above justice, as I know too well my sins and failings. I can not earn my way into Heaven, but I can pave the way to Hell. Lord, who bought my salvation with your blood, help me to live in your will and to accept and act upon that great gift.