Stop believing the lie that you can earn salvation or your way to heaven, said the pastor of a Dallas, Ga., megachurch on Sunday.
Speaking to thousands at West Ridge Church, Brian Bloye stressed in his sermon that "nothing outside of Jesus will work" and that the only way to be truly forgiven and receive eternal life is to trust in Jesus Christ as your savior.
"Your salvation is not based on you" but rather on "what Jesus did," he told the congregation and those watching online.
His sermon on salvation is part of "The Last Words: 7 Sayings of the Cross" series leading up to Good Friday and Easter. The series, which focuses on Jesus' last moments on earth, kicked off just as Lent began last month.
Bloye acknowledged that the exclusivity of salvation in Christ (that there's no other way to salvation apart from Jesus) is "very offensive to many people." In fact, people around the world are being persecuted and killed for professing Jesus as their savior, the pastor noted.
But there is no other way than through Jesus, he emphasized.
One of the thieves who hung on the cross next to Jesus realized this truth as he neared death and asked Jesus to remember him in heaven.
"I'm inspired by the courageous faith of this thief on the cross," Bloye said, noting that the man recognized Jesus as the son of God publicly in front of onlookers who were mocking Jesus.
The thief "realizes that forgiveness is hanging on the cross next to him" and "he can't die without it." He thus "repented and placed his faith in the only one who could save him from his sin and he gained eternal life," the Dallas pastor preached.
Crucifixion was reserved for the worst of criminals as it not only caused excruciating pain but also was intended to be humiliating. While it is not specified in the Bible what the thief next to Jesus was crucified for, Bloye pointed out that he likely committed a grave sin. Yet still, Jesus willingly offered salvation to him even as he was dying.
"Salvation is a gift from God," he added. "There's nothing we can do to earn salvation ... not even on your best day.
"It's all Jesus."
"There's nothing, nothing, nothing you can do to have God love you more or love you less," he highlighted. "He already accepts you fully."
Quoting evangelical Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer, he noted, "The thief's forgiveness reminds us that there is more grace in God's heart than sin in our past."
Bloye further emphasized that Jesus was never too busy for lost people, even as he himself was dying on the cross. With that, he added, "There is no reason for us to ever be too busy to take Jesus to lost people."
West Ridge Church is a fast-growing church with three campuses in Georgia. With neighboring towns recently hit by tornadoes, Bloye made it clear to his congregation that West Ridge is not about the church building or anything else that can easily be destroyed. Rather, "what this church is about is people and it's about Jesus."
West Ridge plans to offer its help to the community devastated by the tornadoes in the coming weeks and months.
"We're going to do everything we can to help people," said Bloye.