If you've ever driven past a dealer's lot, for instance, then you seen those rows and rows of cars, each with its own price prominently displayed on the windshield . . .
But if you've ever stopped at a dealer's lot, then you know those prices are only a suggestion, a starting point, an idea of what you could pay unless you're able to work out some kind of deal -- a deal as in, "I know you're asking $800 for this car, but I'm willing to offer $650 plus this fine collection of baseball cards."
Likewise, you spend much time in church and you're going to hear that "Jesus is the way."
But spend much time around church members, and you might start wondering if he's the only way -- if there's some way to avoid paying this particular "sticker price."
- Maybe I could just live a good life, for instance.
- Or maybe I could be one of those intensely "spiritual" people who collect whale songs and wind chimes . . .
- And if I'd lived back in the days of King Solomon, then I could have brought a lamb to the Temple and called it a day.
Yes, there must be some kind of way to make a deal with God!
But there's not.
No, if there was some other way to save us, then Jesus would not have done what He did; if there was some way to avoid the cross, then Jesus would have found it in the Garden of Gethsemane.
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved [Ephesians 2:4f, NIV].
And no, we don't always know how this grace works in our own lives -- much less in the lives of others. We don't know how it's been offered; we don't know how it's been received . . . and that's why we don't know who will be saved or lost.
But we know God loves everyone.
We know God wants to save everyone.
And that's why we can't make some kind of deal with God . . .
Not when He's made the best deal He can -- through Christ -- for everyone.