Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Feast: Celebrating the Coming Kingdom of Law

Last time I wrote, I said that I would talk about the biggest reason I believe that many who are struggling in Armstrongism might not feel like rejoicing at the Feast of Tabernacles. In that post, I poked fun at a handful of smaller annoyances that many experience. But I believe there is a bigger problem with the Feast - an underlying cause for the feelings of emptiness.

The Kingdom of Law

I noticed that, this year, COGWA created a shareable “Feast of Tabernacles” social media guide that the group encouraged its members to share with their friends.

It explains what the Feast is, includes references from Leviticus and Deuteronomy, tells how to choose a site, talks about meeting friends and celebrating a foretaste of God's Kingdom, and concludes by encouraging readers to go home, plan for next year and learn more about the holy days.

Anybody notice something missing? Something kinda important? Um, maybe something, ANYTHING, about the king who returns to rule this kingdom?

On this explicitly sharable, social-media ready statement to the world, we have little indication that this document came from a Christian organization. The only oblique reference to Jesus Christ comes in point 3 of 5:

“We look forward to the time when all who have not had an opportunity for salvation will be resurrected to physical life and have a chance to live life according to God's plan in the world created by Christ during His millennial rule. God will then judge all people by their actions.”

Sure, it's not exactly vintage Herbert W Armstrong:

“Then I stated with all the power God gave me that I was the representative of the Great God, and that I was there to warn them that the 6,000 years are just about up, and that God would very soon supernaturally INTERVENE, and send the Messiah, Christ, in supreme power and
glory to SET UP THAT WORLD-RULING GOVERNMENT, to rule with GOD'S GOVERNMENT – and His Laws that will CAUSE peace, happiness, and universal well-being, for the next thousand years on earth. That the nations would FIGHT against Him, but that God will FORCE a rebellious humanity to have PEACE, prosperity, and happiness. This, I said, is the Message of the Kingdom of God.” (HWA Co-worker letter, 11/26/73, courtesy of Banned by HWA). 

Rather, it's a kinder, gentler translation of HWA's words. COGWA's message may be carefully cloaked in millennial language and allusions to “Christ,” but the underlying message is the same. The Feast of Tabernacles - as celebrated by the COGWA and the other Armstrongist Churches of God – has the same basic theme as its other observances and messages - living by the Sinai Covent law of Israel; and being judged for salvation on how good of a job you do.

Thank I'm exaggerating? I took some time to listen to the featured Feast sermon on the United Church of God's member web site. Now, UCG is often criticized by more hardline Armstrongist groups for being the most evangelical splinter group to come out of the Worldwide Church of God. Can you guess upon which book the speaker, longtime pastor Jerold Aust, based this keynote Feast of Tabernacles sermon?

Nehemiah. Yup, some of the classic millennial, gospel-centered, forwarding-looking chapters of the Old Testament right there. (imagine sarcasm font here).

So, according to Aust, God sent Israel into captivity because they didn't celebrate His feasts. To be fair, that may have been a part of it. But Jeremiah 25 tells us specifically that God sent Judah into captivity because of their idolatry. Verses 5 and 6 tell us that the Jeremiah warned Judah: “saying, turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever. Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.”

Judah did not listen to the prophets and continued to worship false gods, so the Lord used Nebuchadnezzar to defeat them and put them in captivity. But I digress.

Anyway, Aust noted that Ezra and Nehemiah read the book of the law to the Israelites, and then reminded them not to weep, because it was a feast day to the Lord and they were commanded to rejoice. And so instead, the people made booths and feasted, and the heads of the households came together to study the law. Happy Feast!

But rejoicing isn't just for the Old Testament! Aust then scripture-flips forward to Philippians 4:4, which reminds us to always rejoice in the Lord. Now, Philippians doesn't mention the Feast of Tabernacles or any millennial reign. In fact, it appears that Paul is writing from prison and spends his letter recounting many of his trials, exhorting his brothers in Christian living and talk about the fact that he has learned to rejoice and be content in any situation, including his current imprisonment. But...he says to REJOICE! So it must jive with Nehemiah and the Feast of Booths!

If that isn't enough evidence, Aust then turns to Romans 5:2, which breaks in mid-thought: “Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  

Now that MUST be millennial! Paul is rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God!

Yes and no. Mostly no, but a little bit yes. Paul has just finished a treatise on justification by grace through faith, and is talking about our standing before God in Jesus. We can have hope of being glorified because God promises it to those who place their faith in Jesus, according to the verse that immediately precedes it. Immediately after, Paul talks about rejoicing in our suffering because it builds character, and that character produces hope – a hope that is bolstered by God's love and the Holy Spirit.

But wait, Mr. Aust mentions the Holy Spirit, too! It is, after all, the down payment we receive on our eternal life. And if we are able to try hard enough to foot the rest of the bill, well, then, God will make good on His promise!

In fact, Aust says, it is our responsibility to do so, including keeping the Feast! After all, the Bible says God will shorten the tribulation for the sake of the elect. Then, once we have fulfilled our responsibility by qualifying through keeping the law, we can get back to rebuilding the earth and teaching the generations who are still alive and are resurrected how to keep the law. Which brings us full circle back to COGWA's social media campaign.

In summary: we keep the Feast of Tabernacles in order to obey the law. If we do a good enough job keeping the law, we will qualify to be in God's Kingdom, where we will teach others how to keep the law, so that they can also eventually be judged on their ability to keep the law.

But this isn't earning our salvation, the COGs tell us.

Veiled Hearts and Minds

This whole discussion reminds me of the spiritual blindness that mixing the covenants seems to promote in the COGs.  Specifically,  2 Corinthians 3. Here, I'll throw in a few for free.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? (v. 7-8).

Indeed this is the case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that has surpassed it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. (v. 10-11). 

But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day
 whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. (verses 14-16). 

In fact, many COG articles I've read spend so much ink demonstrating to us that Jesus kept the Feast that they barely have time or space to explain why Jesus really matters.

Let's get this straight. Yes, Mr. Aust is correct. The New Testament writers discuss topics like hope and joy quite a bit. And their hope and joy came from the fact that they stood justified before God through Jesus Christ's sacrifice, not in their keeping of the law. They were grateful that they no longer had to fear eternal punishment when they fell short of this law, the law which they themselves stated they were unable to keep:

“Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee, as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith...” Philippians 3:4-9.

Let's be clear, because I know many claim Paul is just talking about circumcision, just like they claim he is talking about circumcision alone in Acts 15. Not true. The use of the Greek conjunction “te” in Acts 15:5 indicates the Judaizers were stating Gentiles must both be circumcised AND keep the law of Moses, not be circumcised in keeping with the law of Moses. This same law which, as Peter states in verse 10, neither he nor his fathers could bear? Circumcision wasn't the yoke of bondage. The Law of Moses was the yoke of bondage.

Here are some other statements the New Testament writers - those guys whom Aust seems to think are all about rejoicing over the law - made about the law:

Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39). 

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law, there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring – not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the  father of us all.” (Romans 4:13-16). 

For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions around by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:2-6). 

For if the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. Hebrews 8:7

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:13). 

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and now by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16). 

In Galatians 3:2-3, Paul could just as easily be asking Jerold Aust, or Jim Franks, or Gerald Weston, or Stephen Flurry: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Mixing Wineskins

The Feast of Tabernacles, as taught and observed by the COGs, try to do just that: they celebrate a theology in which the “down payment” of the Holy Spirit is gained by repentance and confession of faith, then grasped onto for dear life by observing cherry-picked tenets of the law. If you hit an unquantifiable, unmeasurable threshold of obedience to that “law,” you qualify for eternal life in God's Kingdom, where you will teach survivors of Armageddon, and eventually the whole world, how to keep the law well enough to qualify for eternal life.

(I am not getting into an argument about the Great White Throne judgment in what is already a ridiculously long post. Suffice it to say that most Christians believe the book of Hebrews when it says that it is appointed for all men to die once and then be judged, and the book of Romans when it says that there is no condemnation in the judgment for those who are found in Christ).

However, the Bible describes things a little differently for those who accept grace through faith, but return to law-keeping to maintain their right standing with God.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:2-4). 

Again, I remind you, this is not just circumcision we are talking about. Acts 15 clearly tells us, unequivocally in the Greek, that Gentiles were being pressured to be circumcised AND keep the law. So, if you are keeping components of law in order to have right standing with God, then Galatians states that Christ's sacrifice does nothing for you.

You are probably asking, how do I know whether I am keeping the festivals in order to maintain my standing with God? Well, let me ask YOU a question: what do you think would happen to you if you stopped?

Do you believe you would be forfeiting your eternal life? If so, there's your answer.

So, that's why the Feast begins to feel hollow to those who see the cracks in Armstrongism. You are mixing wineskins. You are seeking the joy, fulfillment and peace of the New Covenant as described by Paul, Peter and John, but trying to grasp it - told you it is possible to obtain it – told you MUST qualify for it or else - through the practices of Israel. You are searching for light among the shadows.

If you are part of the bride of Christ, you can only be party to one covenant at a time – the Sinai Covenant or the New Covenant.  The Sinai Covenant can't help but leave you feeling empty. It was specifically designed to do so, in order to point to future fulfillment in Christ. Feeling that hollowness isn't an indication that there's something wrong with you. It's an indication that there's something right, and that God is calling you into that better covenant with better promises. You've learned the lesson. Maybe it's time to leave the tutor behind.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

More than just Hunger Pangs

Happy Day of Atonement, reader! So, how are you feeling?

Not great? Why am I not surprised?

It's because I know about your secret. No, it's not the one about the raisins you snuck into the bathroom and ate. That, in fact, was me, one Day of Atonement when I was pregnant.

No, your secret is this: when everyone else is feeling better after they break their fast, you'll still have a gnawing pain in your stomach. While they are chattering gleefully, counting down until they leave town for the Feast of Tabernacles, you're wondering how on earth you're going to make it through the next 10 days.

On this Day of Atonement, we could review what Azazel literally meant. We could discuss why Herbert Armstrong's tortured explanation of the English term “at-one-ment” to describe a concept written in a different language more than 1500 years ago is nonsensical. We could talk about what the term "atonement" really means.

But really, today, I'd rather just give you a little validation. I know how you're feeling. It wasn't so long ago that I was in your shoes, which is why I try to eke out a little time to write at this point in the year. We at As Bereans Did know the spring and fall holy days are often when questioning members of today's Armstrongist Churches of God often come face-to-face with their doubts. It's not a fun place to be.

So today, I'd like to get just one point across to you. And it's this:

You are not crazy.

Yes. That's it. You are not crazy. Followed by, you are not alone. But right now, I'll settle for, you are not crazy. The Feast is extremely stressful and often discouraging. Here are some of the top reasons why:

Travel: Driving yourself nuts.

Rising air fares means that more and more people are driving to the Feast each year. This year's Sunday-to-Sunday span gives you a little more flexibility at the beginning. But departing on a Sunday night after the eighth day is over means you'll drive through the night or start the work/school week in the hole.

And most feast-goers are driving further than ever. When I was a child, there were about three feast sites within a six-hour drive from my home. Splintering, however, has left you with fewer Feast sites that are farther between.

For example, if you started at the United Church of God's headquarters site near Cincinnati, Ohio, but wanted not to keep the Feast in Cincinnati, it would take you almost 350 miles and nearly 7 hours to drive to the closest site in Snowshoe, West Virginia. If you want to avoid driving through mountains, you could always choose the Wisconsin Dells, which is the next closest. It's only about 500 miles away and about 8 hours of driving.

And I'm not just picking on UCG. If you were leaving from the Living Church of God's headquarters congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, you'd have to travel 250 miles to Hilton Head – which thankfully is still on the map after Hurricane Florence. Had Florence taken a different path, the Charlatans (whoops, stupid autocorrect!) would have to put in 470 miles of driving to the next closest site - located in exotic, millennial Earlanger, Kentucky.

Mentioning Florence reminded me of my next point:

Holy Day Season or Hurricane Season, which?

God gave the Feast of Tabernacles to the Hebrews, who lived in the Middle East. He didn't give it to the Americans, or to the Filipino, or even to the Philippians. They celebrated the Feast in Jerusalem. But instead of learning from the missteps of King Jeroboam, who moved his Feast to a new date and city for political reasons, or believing the book of Hebrews says about the Sinai Covenant being obsolete,  church leaders have decided God is placing his name in hurricane-prone locations like Panama City and Myrtle Beach.

I recently read comments from older WCG members who recall "heroically" riding out storm bands during services in the meeting tent at God's True Feast in Jeykll Island, Georgia. This kind of hubris shows a complete lack of Philadelphian love and concern for the rescue workers who no doubt would have been called in to work, even on a high holy day, and endangered had tragedy struck. Today's feast-goers seem to to have a little more sense, although I recall some subtle bravado from COGWA members at Orange Beach last year when Hurricane Nate approached.

Several east coast Feast sites seemed to have dodged the bullet with Florence, although some forecasters say the storm's remnants could circle back around to the Carolinas. So good for them! However, COGWA's Feast site in Baguio City, Philippines was not so lucky. The city was recently battered by Super Typhoon Mangkhut. Does this mean that God is more pleased with LCG than with COGWA? Or are COGWA's Orange Beach feast-goers more righteous than their Filipino counterparts? Scoffing at less fortunate and speculating about their righteousness from outside the storm's path doesn't mean God is happier with you or your organization. It means you're a jerk.

Not getting the message

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the daily messages at the Feast of Tabernacles. It's not enough that you had to sit through the message. Now you have to listen to everyone talk about how great it was.

Sure, you might get one or two inspiring messages, but the rest sound like the speaker forgot he had a message and just punted. Now, I understand everyone punts sometimes. I mean, I obviously am right now. But the ministerial teams for most Feast sites start assigning days and teleconferencing about them in JUNE. If you started in June, come September, it should not sound like you punted: And yet, predictably, we still end up with:

The classic opening night message:
We made it! It is such a privilege to be here! After all, there are many who were here last year who are not today. Some of them are passed on and awaiting the first resurrection (we hope). Some infidels have left since the last split. (The infidels were our best friends until last year. Now they're keeping the Feast with another organization in the next tourist trap town over, and we're secretly hoping to run into them at Denny's). And still others have fallen away from God's truth and forgotten the great meaning of these days (although they're not in the path of this oncoming hurricane, so they may have more time to repent). 

It's the First Day:
We're celebrating the Feast! This time pictures when we will rule the earth with Jesus Christ for a thousand years. (Why is he talking about Jesus? What does he think this is, the Feast of Trumpets?) Don't forget that you are literally commanded to spend a tenth of your income on food, fine wine and whatever your heart desires! After all, this week pictures the Kingdom of God! (you become vaguely uncomfortable as you realize that the Bible directly states that the Kingdom of God is more than eating and drinking. What's worse, the description the guy at the lectern gave is sounding more and more like something Solomon disparaged in the book of Ecclesiastes). 

The Acrostic Sermon: 
In this mid-Feast sermon, someone either forgot he was speaking or lost his notes earlier in the week. So he goes ahead and writes a cringe-worthy message where the main points spell out words like “STAR,” “FEAST,” or, if you're really unlucky, “KINGDOM” (now we're NEVER making it to Disney World after church gets out). 

As usual, I don't fault anyone for worshiping God the best way they know how. This is a tongue-in-cheek post intended to give a little comic relief.  If this is truly what God expects, of us, then it's all worth it and more. After all, an eight-hour ride in a car is certainly shorter than any of Paul's missionary journeys. Being in the path of a hurricane is no comparison to being shipwrecked IN a storm. And being stuck in a tourist trap is certainly much better than in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace.

If it feels like you're the only one at the Feast who doesn't seem to be rejoicing, take heart. No, you're not crazy. Rather, God is slowly removing the veil (2 Corinthians 3:15) and drawing you to His truth. So, if you're still not feeling very joyful, well, I think I know why. Let me tell you...

Next time.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Overcoming and the Feast of Trumpets

As the Churches of God are celebrating the Feast of Trumpets, I'm sure there will be plenty of COG critics who make a big deal about the fact that this day is never even mentioned in the New Testament.

I won't be one of them.

Sure, if you want to get technical, it isn't. The epistles do make passing references to the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and the Day of Atonement. But, despite NT references to trumpets and resurrections and Jesus' return, poor old Rosh Hashanah itself doesn't even get a mention.

But that's ok. I don't really care. Because today, I don't want to argue about whether the COGs are correct about what the Feast of Trumpets pictures, or how it will play out. I don't plan to debate Heaven versus soul sleep. For the purposes of this discussion, let's just assume you're right. Because, at the end of the day – or really, the End of Days – you and I basically share the same hope: that Jesus Christ will return, that the dead in Christ will rise, and that we will be numbered among the saints in God's family. 

Paul gives us the basis for this hope in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

No matter what our differences, this victory over death is our common hope. So how can we be sure we will "make it"? How can we make sure we have overcome? That we'll be there? This is the real question, the real important point of discussion. Many Feast of Trumpets sermons - and really, a good number of messages - come back to in the COGs. They seem to be pretty certain we must DO something, although they tell us in different ways:

The United Church of God, for example, soberly calls us to action:
"Think about this in regard to this festival, this holy day, and this assemblage. Every day in our life, there should be the sounding of a symbolic trumpet of urgency for us to live for God, developing a relationship with God, preparing for that time when we will be changed at the sounding of a trumpet, and our bodies changed from mortal to immortality, as Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the resurrection chapter". (Beyond Today: Feast of Trumpets: An Urgency to Live for God Everyday, Darris McNeely, September 11, 2015)

The Church of God, a Worldwide Association, reminds us that failure is not an option - but not quite how the Bible teaches it (and I'm still waiting for them to explain me how to "use" the Holy Spirit like a pressure washer or something):  
"God did not call us to fail. When we repent and die with Christ through baptism, we begin a new life—a life fueled by the Holy Spirit, the power of God. There’s a lifetime of work ahead of us as we strive to put out sin and grow in righteousness, but thanks to the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it’s work we can accomplish." (, The Plan of God, Day 3: The Power to Overcome.)

The Living Church of God invokes Herbert W Armstrong, founder of the COG movement, in their current literature to deliver subtle, thought-provoking ultimatums: 
"Repeatedly Jesus warned us to watch, regarding His second coming! Could it be possible that, unless we are observing the Feast of Trumpets, as the first-century Church of God was observing Pentecost, that we shall not be ready, or caught up to meet Him? We do not—we cannot, of course, say; but we do ask the question. Is it not possible? Let us humbly and willingly yield to walk obediently in all the light.” (Herbert W Armstrong, Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which? , p. 34.)

And the Philadelphia Church of God hands us not-so-subtle ultimatums: 
“We can’t carelessly relegate the Feast of Trumpets to just another day to give an offering and then get on with the fast to sort of punish ourselves before the “fun” starts at the Feast of Tabernacles. If we allow ourselves to drift into that contemptuous attitude, then we will not be accounted worthy to escape His wrath at His coming! (Luke 21:35-36). He won’t count us worthy to be born into His Family.” (Remember the Feast of Trumpets, and God Will Remember You! John Amos, Philadelphia Church of God, 1992). 

Regardless of which COG flavor you choose, the same underlying message comes through loud and clear: you must be doing something, the right something, and keep doing it correctly until you're done. Granted, they never tell you exactly WHAT that something is, or how well you must do it, or how long you must do it. 

Thankfully, the Bible DOES tell us how this victory over death comes, though it isn't through what WE do. Not surprisingly, it comes just a few verses after Paul's description of the resurrection:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinthians 15:57. 

Wait, what? 

Let me rephrase that without the complicating commas and clauses. 

God gives us the victory. 

We do not secure it ourselves, through works:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.  - Titus 3:4-6

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  - Ephesians 2:8-9

This victory comes through Jesus, not through maintaining a state of grace through ongoing justification

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. - Romans 5:1-2

We do NOT begin our Christian life with an act of faith, but reach its final objective through physical works. 

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works on the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? - Galatians 3:2-3

In fact, our works would secure a much different outcome

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. Romans 4:4.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23. 

This victory - over sin in this life and over death at the end - is the eventual fruit of our faith, not of our works

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? -  1 John 5:4

We overcome by professing our faith in the blood of the lamb, not in what we do. 

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. - Revelation 12:10-12. 

So what can we do to make sure that we "make it?"

Not a whole lot. Not keep the Sabbath. Not count the new moons correctly from Jerusalem, to make sure we are spot-on about when to keep the holy days. Not adopt a vegetarian diet to avoid eating any unclean ingredients. Not take a vow of silence so that we can never lie again.

Really, all we can do is choose to believe the One who promises to forgive our sins and grant us eternal life through the shed blood of His Son. And then take it on faith.

Good thing that was what He really wanted anyway.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11