“I wouldn’t trust my best fifteen minutes to get me into heaven.”

So said the preacher and I agree with him. In that one sentence he uttered a profound theological truth. I can think of five reasons why it must be true:

1. Fifteen minutes isn’t long enough. 

2. Fifteen of my “best” minutes can’t make up for the rest of my life.

3. I can’t be sure which fifteen minutes are my “best” anyway.

4. God judges more than fifteen minutes of my life.

5. Even my “best” minutes are tainted with sin.

I conclude that as long as I look to myself, I can never be saved–not by my “best” minutes or hours or days or weeks or months or years. If I am to be saved, it must be by what the Reformers called “alien righteousness.” The righteousness that I seek must come from outside me. What I need I can never produce. And as long as I trust in myself, I am trapped in a losing game.

The preacher was right. My best fifteen minutes will send me to hell. I am driven (gladly!) to the words of a familiar gospel song:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.