Heaven – Clarifying Misconceptions About How You Get There

I was checking out other Christian blogs recently, and I found one in which the blogger talks about loving Jesus Christ.  Jesus is his Savior.  It was a decent site except that it misleads the reader by saying that Jesus was crucified and resurrected so that everyone goes to heaven. 

 EVERYONE.  Not true.  Unfortunately, this is a common belief that is not consistent with the Bible, and often it’s based on the teachings or lack of clarification in some churches and TV evangelists.   While salvation/heaven is available to everyone, there is an intentional act of the heart involved.

 We’d like to think that every “good” person goes to heaven.  I believe this is what the blogger means by ‘everyone’ .   Here are the problems with this kind of wishful thinking:

 1)  God sacrificed His Son on the cross.  Crucified.  Nails through his hands.  Unimaginable suffering.   To send everyone to heaven?  To send people who don’t care enough to consider His existence,  who won’t, at the very least, pick up His Word, read it, and consider putting their trust in the very One who sacrificed His Son?  Does this make sense? 

 2)     Whether someone is a “good” or “bad” person, it would make no sense for those who deny Him to want to be in His presence for eternity.  That would be like their own hell.  Like being forced to live with that relative or boss that you dislike or ignore – forever.    

Although God loves all of us, His love is so great as to give us free will to choose Him or not.  It doesn’t make sense  that he would ultimately force everyone to be with Him.  See the analogy after the next point.

3)   One of the big misconceptions that people have is that as long as you are good, you go to heaven.  Define good.  How is that evaluated?

How good is good enough?  So, you donate lots of money to charity, and you volunteer at the local homeless shelter.  But you gossiped at work about the attire of a co-worker, and you cursed at another driver in traffic.  Would they cancel each other out?  What kind of scoring system would be used? 

 Worshipping idols is a sin.  Not good by God’s standards. An idol is anything we prioritize before God, so most of us worship idols, sometimes on a daily basis.  TV, money, possessions, self, sex, food, alcohol, and even exercise can be idols.  These are just a few examples.  Whether it’s daily or whether you’re having an off day, it is impossible not to sin.  It only takes one instance, one sin, to not be good enough, perfect enough, to be in God’s physical presence one day.

 We must be perfect to:

A)     Be in God’s presence.  Otherwise, carrying a sin into heaven is like poison in a glass of water.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tiny drop or it fills the whole glass, it’s enough to make the water toxic.

B)      Have a personal relationship with God while we’re on earth.  Otherwise, sin separates us from Him.

 ANALOGY for Point 2:   It’s kind of a loose analogy; I hope it conveys the right message:  Let’s say you work in an office, and you accidentally took a pen out of the building, just one of those things you didn’t think about, it was in your hand and you put it in your purse or pocket.  Your boss confronts you and says that you broke a rule, and for that there is the penalty of losing your job.  Instead of having you pack up your desk, he offers you a choice.  He has already fired his son in your place.  The only thing he asks is that your admit your guilt of stealing the pen, you ask for forgiveness, and you keep the truth in your heart.

Your boss’s name is Larry.  He is someone you hate, or you deny that he knows best.  You never follow the instruction manual he left you, the one that tells you not only how to be a great employee, but how to know Larry’s character.  He allows you free choice, so you’re doing just fine on the job.   You think that your boss just wants to ruin your fun, and you don’t really acknowledge that he is in a higher position. You’ve never actually seen him, because he does not work in your office building. 

 The final reward for accepting the sacrifice of his son is that when you retire, you can live with Larry in his house, a huge mansion with many rooms.  Still, you’ll be there along with everyone else that has embraced his lifestyle. 

 You’re fine with losing your job, so saving it isn’t really a concern.  You’re in control.  Why would you take the deal, knowing you would be spending every waking hour in the presence of Larry?

4)    Many believe that good works earn your way to heaven.  Not true.  Here’s a significant verse for clarity:    

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Other significant verses:

John 14:6   I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes through the Father except through me.

 Romans 10:9  (NIV)      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.

**God loves us so much that he sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the debt for human sin by dying on the cross.  To offer us forgiveness of our sins.  To offer us eternal life.    Salvation is not something that can be earned.  It is the offering of a gift, and like any gift, we must choose to accept it. **     We must accept Christ as our Lord.  Lord means Master and Ruler.

Salvation Prayer – The Simple Steps:
1. Acknowledge in your heart that Jesus is Lord.

2. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

3. Believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised three days later.

4. Repent of your sins and get baptized in the name of Jesus.

Salvation Prayer – Merely a Tool to Communicate Our Faith
The Salvation Prayer is not a ritual based on specific words. This is not the power of a prayer, but the power of truly committing our lives to Christ as Savior and Lord. The following is merely a guideline for our sincere step of faith:

“God, I know that I have sinned in my life, and I am sorry.  I have tried to be in control and have let pride prevent me from knowing you.  I need You and want You in my life.  I believe that Christ died for me and was raised from the dead.  Please forgive me of my sins.  I ask for you to come into my life and my heart and to be my Lord.  I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

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