A Presbyterian, a Methodist and a Baptist were enjoying a day at sea with their wives when a tidal wave swamped their boat, drowning them all. The next thing they knew, they were standing at the pearly gates.

St. Peter shook his head when the Presbyterian approached. “I can’t let you in. You loved money too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Penny.”

St. Peter also shook his head when the Methodist approached. “I can’t let you in, either. You loved food too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Candy.”

That’s when the Baptist leaned over to his wife and whispered, “It’s not looking good, Fanny.”

I don’t know about you, but I for one am glad that God uses only one criterion to determine whether we’re admitted to heaven. That criterion is that we must be born again. You may recall that Jesus told a man named Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Many people work hard in hopes of earning entry to heaven. Many give lots of money to worthy causes in hopes of earning entry to heaven. Many do lots of good deeds in hopes of earning entry to heaven. While it’s good that people do those things, they earn them no credit with God, because here’s what the Bible says: “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If we could earn entry to heaven through our works, we’d be inclined to get puffed up with pride, perhaps to even brag about ourselves. That’s what got the Pharisees off track in the time of Jesus’ public ministry here on earth. They were full of themselves. They had become religious snobs.

You may remember the story Jesus told about the Pharisee and the tax collector, both of whom had gone to the temple to pray. The Pharisee stood proudly before God and praised himself, saying thank you that I’m not like this sinful tax collector. The tax collector knelt down, his head bowed in contrition, and prayed, Lord, forgive me for I am a sinner. Jesus asked, which of those men do you think left there justified? The correct answer, of course, was the tax collector, though the world is full of self-righteous people who may have thought the Pharisee was the better man.

The Bible tells us our righteousness is like filthy rags in the sight of a most holy God. That’s why we need to put on the righteousness of Christ.

Whether your wife’s name is Penny or Candy or Fanny, you can rest assured it’s the name Jesus that will matter when it comes your turn to enter heaven.

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