Weather report from heaven: Sunny and bright with an abundance of light, and lots of singing and rejoicing.
Scripture: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 6:23
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”- Romans 10:9-10
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”- Mark 10:18
Insight: The Bible is a road map for our life and the only firm foundation of truth on which we can build our lives. However, one of the things I learned early in my 20 + years of reading the Bible and trying as best as I know how to incorporate its life changing message into my life in a way that can be a blessing to others is that there are many verses in the Bible that challenge every ounce of our being. They are the ones that if taken in proper context make us realize how far apart we are from where God calls us to be, which should in turn lead to humility, a humble heart, and a further surrender of our lives over to the only One who is fit to be King in our life, Jesus. There are hard teachings in the Bible that frankly many people don’t like, and try their best to avoid. It is what has allowed a huge following to emerge of the so called Prosperity Gospel which is no Gospel at all, but in a nutshell teaches only about the blessings of Christ gained from following Him, almost like Christ is our Cosmic Bellhop who is there at our whim with a shake of a bell, and not at all about the tough lessons of Christ that cause us to push back or rebel, such as the very nature of abdicating the throne of our life over to Him. For the next week, we will consider some of the toughest teachings of the Bible that cause so many to stumble such as: Learning to die yourself and pick up your cross daily ( Luke 9:23-25 ), Heaven is for saved people, not good people, which Jesus says in itself leaves everyone who is not saved automatically out, because none of us are truly good except God Himself ( Romans 10:9-10, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19 ), Only what is done in Jesus name and for His glory will last and be rewarded in eternity ( 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 ), Jesus’ teaching in The Sermon on the Mount, which takes the law and obliterates it to expose a whole new level of understanding of our sinful nature and rebellion against the the heart of God ( Matthew 5:21-48 ) and finally that we cannot effectively serve God and Money ( 1 Timothy 6:6-10 ).
These are tough lessons and require us to be honest with ourselves and admit how much we struggle in these areas so we can grow in our faith and allow God to use His scalpel to remove the strongholds in our lives ( 2 Corinthians 10:4 ) that keep us from truly understanding all aspects of the Gospel and truly following the crucified Christ.
Tonight we will consider the Gospel message on Heaven and Hell, a message that the enemy has surely infiltrated to distort the truth and lead many to eternal separation away from God’s Heavenly Kingdom. Simply put, the place where people stumble the most around the truth of what the Bible teaches about eternal life is that Heaven is for saved people, not for good people. Many cannot grasp that thought, and claim “surely they were good enough to get into Heaven,” however the Bible is clear that no one can do enough good deeds to earn their way to heaven, but rather can only be saved “by grace, through faith,” as Ephesians 2:8-9 says. Today, however, you hear many talking about Universalism and the idea that because God is love ( 1 John 4:8 ) which is definitely true, then all people go to Heaven because how could a loving God possibly send people to Hell? The answer is God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, but rather people who fail to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior send themselves to Hell. God, being God after all, has the right to determine the one and only path to His Kingdom in Heaven ( John 3:16 ) is through the atoning death of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross ( Romans 3:25 ). Jesus’ painful crucifixion was the penalty God had His Son bare in order to wash us clean from our own sin for those who accept Him as Lord & Savior. He paid our sin tab in full on the Cross of Calvary. It is the only thing that can substitute for our sinfulness to make us righteous before God’s throne of judgment.
When God looks at those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, He doesn’t see our sin, He sees His Son in our place, and His blood washes us clean as snow. Isaiah 1:18 says it this way: “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” On the other hand, if you haven’t accepted Christ, then when you appear before God’s judgment throne you will be still in your sinful state, and God being Holy and Righteous cannot be in the presence of sin. Isaiah 64:6 says this: All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
This is how much is on the line when we decide to either accept or reject Christ in our lives. Literally, our eternal destiny depends on it, and it’s not up to anyone else other than us to make this choice. The enemy has attacked this black and white thinking as close minded, or rigid extremism, when in fact it is the complete opposite. It is the ability to use Scripture as the source of truth that will guarantee you an eternal existence in the presence of Jesus in God’s Eternal Kingdom. “Rest in peace” has become the universalist battle cry when someone dies, but the truth is a person will either be in blissful peace or excruciating agony depending on whether or not they chose Jesus as Lord & Savior when they were alive. It is a battle against pride, and we must ask the Spirit for help in winning this battle. Believing in what we can’t see is the very definition of faith, ( 2 Corinthians 5:7 ) and is what is required if we are to be saved. Matthew 7:7 promises help in finding this truth if we seek it “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Jesus is not hiding from you, He is waiting for you to invite Him into your life and discover the way which leads to life. The Bible doesn’t dance around the subject of Heaven and Hell, but rather it gives a very detailed and descriptive imagery of what will happen when we die according to those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t. Matthew 7:13-14 says very clearly that there are two paths we can freely choose, and one leads to life and the other to destruction: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
God doesn’t want anyone to perish ( 2 Peter 3:9 ) but He will not make you choose Him, or He would violate the free will He has given you. He wants you to lay down your pride and make Jesus Lord and Savior of your life. The bet is clear: If you reject Jesus and He is not who He said He was, He was just some madman running around the Judean Countryside acting like the world’s biggest narcissist, then it is a tie, and we all are destined to nothingness upon our death. But if He is “the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him,” as it says in John 14:6, then your rejection of Him means you lose everything. You wouldn’t make that bet in Vegas would you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit make yourself known to all those who are seeking you deep in their soul, even if they can’t express that yearning in words. Come into their lives, help them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, and set them free. Amen!