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Is 99.9% Good Enough?

Greetings All,

Another week, another thought!

I found this one typed on a sheet of paper stuffed in the back of my Bible.  It had no reference to the author.  I believe it was written by Charles Swindoll, though I am not 100% sure -- just 90%, or 80%! Though it is somewhat appropriate that I should be unsure, since the 'thought' itself has to do with percentages.  How righteous (percentage-wise) do we need to be to be acceptable to God, and what percentage of our sins need to be forgiven in order to be saved. They are good questions to ask.

I obviously stuck it in my Bible because I felt it was helpful.  I hope you find it helpful as well.  After all, in answering such questions we discover the Gospel in a nutshell.  Enjoy.

Is 99.9% Good Enough?

"Ever tracked the consequences of, 'almost but not quite?'  Thanks to some fine research by Natalie Gabal, I awoke to a whole new awareness of what would happen if 99.9% were considered good enough.  If that were true, then this year alone (in the U.S.) 2,000,000 documents would be lost by the IRS; 12 babies would be given to the wrong parents every day; 291 pacemaker operations would be performed incorrectly; 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions would be written, and 114,500 mismatched pairs of shoes would be shipped (to cite just a few examples).

Instead of applying this negatively to the practical side of life, I'd much rather compare it positively to the theological. Remember that forgotten word 'justification'? Remember what it means?  Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner while that person is still in a sinning state. Luther's famous phrase for it was: 'simul justus et peccator' ('at the same time just and sinner'). God doesn't make us righteous, He declares us righteous on the basis of another's righteousness -- the perfect righteousness of Jesus. 

How righteous does God declare us?  He declares us 100% righteous.  When you consider how sinful, how totally depraved humanity really is, that fact is all the more remarkable.  Stop and think.  Upon believing in Jesus Christ's substituionary death and bodily resurrection, the once lost sinner is instantly, unconditionally, and permanently 'declared 100% righteous.'  Anything less and we are not righteous... we're almost righteous.  

If we were declared only 99.9% righteous, some verses would have to be rewritten. Like Isaiah 1:18, which might then read: 'Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are as scarlet, they will be light pink.'  Nonsense!  The promise of sins forgiven is all or nothing. Eighty percent won't cut it... or ninety percent... or 99 and 44/100ths percent... or 99.9%.  Let's face it, 0.1% is still sinful.  I mean, would you drink a gallon of water with only one tiny drop of strychnine in it?  Would you feel comfortable having a surgeon cut on you who was wearing almost-sterile
gloves?  Would you use a used needle with only 0.1 %  of the Hepatitis C virus in it?
When our Lord said, 'It is finished,' He meant 'finished.'  The colossal ransom for sin was fully paid.  He satisfied the Father's demand.  Unlike the earthly race for excellence, the universal race against sin had a finish line. 
Otherwise, when Jesus breathed His last breath, He would have said, 'It is almost finished.'  And we would have to keep working at it, adding something Christ didn't finish at the cross.  Let's never, ever, forget that God is into 'white as snow,' not light pink.  If Christ had paid only 99.9% of the debt of sin, not one of us would have a chance at heaven. "  
That's the Good News of God's grace. We don't have to be perfect (or even close) for God to accept us, or to be saved. For by faith in Christ, the perfection of Jesus can be credited to our account.  "But now a righteousness FROM GOD, apart from the law, has been made known. to which the Law and Prophets testify. This righteousness FROM GOD comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Rom. 3:21-22). That righteousness from God is His own righteousness -- the rightousness of Jesus, received by faith in Jesus.  We are made right with God on the basis of another's righteousness --  the 100% pure righteousness of Jesus.  By means of it, and it alone, we can be declared righteous while still sinner, for Jesus sake.  Praise God. 

Have you trusted in Christ?

Have you placed all your faith and hope for salvation in Him?

You must. There is no other way to be saved. For even if you were to be 99.9% pure (which you could never be) that 0.1% of sin staining and polluting your record would exempt you from heaven. For the divine decree still stands: "The wages of sin is death..." even if that sin is only 0.1% of our life record. 

Or, put in practical terms, since the average lifespan in America is around 72 years, that seemingly insignificant 0.1% would equal a whopping 262 days of non-stop, 24/7 sinning.  With God it is 100% righteousness or nothing, and only Jesus made the grade. 

Yours in the hope of the Gospel, Pastor Jeff