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By Doug Hutchcraft

So our family has a silly but fun tradition. We've told our kids there's a special "elf" assigned to our family and he keeps a close eye on children's attitudes to help determine what they'll be getting for Christmas. Oh, man, it's amazing how obedient and cooperative the kids become when we mention our "elf."

I think sometimes we think that's actually how we'll get to heaven. We think if we do enough good things God will keep score and let us in. The problem is, He said in His book that there's actually no amount of good things we can do that will earn us entrance into heaven. It's all about being forgiven by God for running our lives our way. And being forgiven by Him actually comes down to a gift.

In His book God says "the cost of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus." Now, just like any gift, if you want it you have to receive it. And you do that by acknowledging to God that you believe He made a way for you to be forgiven through His Son, Jesus, dying in your place.

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