In Poland, Catholics celebrate All Saint’s Day by cleaning the graves of their dead loved ones and hiring priests to pray for those already deceased. Merchants sell their wares – silk floral arrangements, glass-enclosed candles (to burn on the graves ‘round-the-clock), and food – on the streets outside the cemeteries. It’s quite the show, and it’s expensive for those who can barely afford to pay their rent and grocery bill, but the people believe it must be done to ensure a place in heaven for their loved ones.
As a young woman, Iwona placed her saving faith in Jesus Christ. Doing so meant turning her back on her Catholic upbringing and its traditions. It incurred the wrath of her family. The cost, in her opinion, was worth it. Why? Because she understood that salvation is not earned by obeying religious traditions or doing good works, but it’s the free gift of God to those who believe that Jesus paid the death penalty once for all who place their saving faith in Him.
Today, Iwona is an evangelist extraordinaire. She shares the Good News of salvation with anyone who will listen because she has discovered forgiveness and freedom in Christ, and she longs for her countrymen to know the same. No longer working to earn her salvation, she testifies to the spiritual rest of God referred to in Hebrews 4:10 – ‘For all who enter into God’s rest will find rest from their labors, just as God rested after creating the world.”
How about you? Have you entered God’s rest by placing your saving faith in Jesus Christ? Have you received His free gift of eternal life? Or are you laboring in religious tradition, trying to guarantee a place in heaven? If the latter, my prayer is that you’ll soon understand that salvation cannot be earned, and that you’ll enter God’s rest.