Monday, July 01, 2013
How do I hope to get to Heaven?
Yesterday our minister gave us a challenge to spend 5-10 minutes writing out briefly how each of us think we will get to Heaven. Below is my attempt. Comments welcome.
What is the Problem? - we all have sinned (any time we ever broke any of the commandments) and this creates a huge gap between us and God that we cannot get across. God is Holy, and just and cannot tolerate any sin. All sin must be punished, because God is good.
What is the Solution? - 2000 years ago Jesus came to Earth and was fully God and fully man, lived a perfect life on Earth, facing all the same difficulties (temptations) as us, but never falling into sin. He died on the cross as all of God's wrath was poured out on him and he took the punishment for our sin (those who accept Him as Lord). Without this we would have to pay ourselves, and the only mechanism for payment is eternity (forever, with no way out) in hell (a place of eternal torment, where after 10,000 years of your flesh being burned you would be no closer to the end than when you first began). And on the third day Jesus rose from the dead, and walked the earth before ascending into Heaven, where today he intercedes for us.
What do I have to do? 3 answers:
1) Nothing. The work of salvation is complete - there is nothing I can do to add to that. Anything I do to contribute to my salvation will actually take away from it. Good works are like filthy rags. There is nothing I can do to earn favour with God, it's impossible. Nothing I do can make God love me more (and nothing I do can make him love me less)
2) Nothing. There is nothing I can do, unless I am called by the Spirit to salvation. Within me there is not even the power to choose salvation, unless I am prompted by God.
3) Trust and Obey (like the old hymn says) - In practical terms think of salvation as a free gift (which it is). Any gift is useless unless it is accepted. Believing (not just intellectual assent, but trusting) is how I accept the gift. This is the process of realising Jesus is Lord of my life (we cannot 'make him Lord of our life' as he is already Lord of all, we can merely come to accept the truth.) After this Jesus calls us to 'follow' him - to give up everything, to die to our sin, to ourselves, to die to our wants and desires. We must surrender everything to him, anything less is utterly unacceptable. All of this can only be done through his power, self-help or self-improvement is impossible for us, it's futile. Through him, and the spirit living within us, transforming us, we are in the process of sanctification, or being made holy, and this process continues as long as we live.
What do I get? Eternal live - which starts now, as I live in relationship with God. It is made perfect after death and continues in heaven for evermore. Now we get sonship - we are co-heirs with Christ, sons of God, with the full rights of bloodline sons (& daughters). We get to call God father. We get direct access to the creator of the whole universe who is sovereign, and rules over each intricate detail of what happens every day. What more could we want?