Here are two critically important questions to answer and answer correctly before you die:
1) Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you died today that you would go to heaven, or is that something you are still working on?
2) Suppose you were to die today and you were to stand before God and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My Kingdom?” What would you say?
Take some time to think these two questions through before reading any further. Secure an answer before reading further because in the next paragraph I will share the answers that most people give to both questions.
Question #1 – What was your answer? No doubt answers can vary greatly. However, most people answer this question by saying something like, “I’m still working on that. After all no one knows for certain, right?” or “I certainly hope that I would go…” or “I think so” or “No one can be sure…” or “How can anyone be sure?”
Was that generally your answer? If so, I have some good news. But before we move on, what about the second question?
Question #2 – What was your answer to, “Why should I (God) let you into my Kingdom?” Most people (even people in jail and prison) answer this question by saying something like, “Because overall, I’m a pretty good person. I try my best. No one is perfect.” or “I haven’t killed anyone. And God is a loving God anyway. As long as I try to live right, I think He will be fair and let me in.” or “We’re all on a pathway to the same God, just different paths. God is love and God loves people.”
Was your answer similar? If so, read on…
1. The Kingdom is a Free Gift!
God’s Kingdom is a free gift! It is not earned or deserved. How do we know that? The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages (what we earn or pay) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” And “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; not of works lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:8-9
So we see this truth, the Kingdom is a free gift from God, not earned or deserved. Think about it. Let’s imagine you are super rich. And you offer me a really nice car as a free gift, let’s say the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, worth almost $2.5 million US dollars. Some people will ask, “What in the world did I do to deserve this gift?” But you are giving it to me as a gift. I did not do anything to deserve it.
Think about it this way. When I was a teen in the 1980’s, a basketball coach at summer camp, Coach Hayworth in Big Sandy, Texas bought me some new basketball shoes, worth about $65.00 back in the day. He told me to pay him $1.00 for the shoes and that way if anyone were to ask me if I paid for the shoes, I could honestly say, “Yes, I did. I bought them from Coach.” If I paid even a penny on those shoes, I paid something. The shoes are no longer a truly no strings attached, free gift. That’s what the two verses mean – no amount of good deeds, obedience or religious works can earn you a place in the Kingdom of God, but God gives this incredibly, wealthy treasure as a free gift.
2. Man is a Sinner
But some people may say, “Wait a minute! Maybe you did something to deserve some favor and some new shoes because you could play basketball or maybe because you were tall like Coach Hayworth.” I honestly do not know Coach’s motivations for the shoes, but what about us? Have we done anything to deserve God’s free gift?
Again, the Bible is clear when it says each human is a sinner, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23. Sin is transgression or breaking of the law – this includes breaking the letter of the law (such as lying, murder, disobeying your parents, stealing, adultery, etc.) AND it also includes breaking the intent of the law (such as lusting after a man or woman, outbursts of anger, evil thoughts, cheating, greed, slander and gossip, etc.).
Someone might say, “Well, wait. We all sin. We all make mistakes. I agree with that, but God has to, therefore, be loving and grade on a curve because we all fail.”
The truth is that the real standard is not “try your best.” The standard is perfection: “Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:47. If we want to try to earn the Kingdom, then God expects perfection like Him. Because man is a sinner, he cannot save himself. He’s lost. DEAD in his sins!
Think about it. How many sins does it take before we disqualify ourselves for the Kingdom? It only takes one! For some, that is difficult to grasp. Think about how often you sin. Let’s be honest. How often in a 24-hour period do you sin? Maybe one to two sins an hour on average? For simplicity sake, let’s use the number 10. Let’s assume each of us sins 10 times a day, an extremely low and fair number over a life time. 10 sins a day over a course of a year is 3,650 sins. Over a course of 10 years, that jumps to 36,500 sins. For 70 years (average life span), that would be 255,500 sins in a life time. If you only sin 3 times a day, that’s 76,650 sins in a life time. And you really believe a perfect God (who is a righteous Judge) is going to OK your entrance into His perfect Kingdom with 76,000 sins? God says we are dead in our sins. He expects perfection.
If you or I showed up in court before a judge with 70,000 traffic tickets, a judge would sentence you to jail, fine you and revoke your license.
Another way of thinking about it is this. Let’s imagine a King or Queen announces they are coming to your home to visit and they want you to prepare breakfast. The king loves omelets for breakfast and he is expecting a good one. If you respected this king, you would go to your best effort to present the best omelet possible. As you’re making the omelet, you crack open an egg and to your shock it is rotten and stinky. Would you even consider putting one rotten, bad egg in the omelet? Yet we discount the thousands of sins we are presenting to a perfect and holy God.
But people naturally think they are in good shape, compared to everyone else. God’s law says differently. However, some people even think they keep the moral law perfectly. One man came to Jesus asking what he could do to inherit eternal life. First, he wrongly assumed he was a rightful heir, that salvation comes by birth. Second, he wrongly assumed he could earn eternal life by doing something – keeping the commandments. Jesus held the law up against him and the young man bragged that he had kept all the commandments – he probably lied, but Jesus graciously let it go. So to flush the guy out from behind the law, which he was hiding, Jesus told him to sell all he had and come follow him. The young man failed the idolatry test – the spirit of the law. He went away sorrowful because he didn’t really want to follow God since his possessions were his god. See Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 18:18-23.
God is perfectly clean and pure in all His ways. If we show up to His gates after death with even one sin in our lives, it is a great offense to the Just Judge. Therefore, we see man cannot save himself. “Whoever shall keep the whole law (the moral outward law, the Sabbath and everything) and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10 Man is a failure.
3. God is Merciful
God is merciful and does not want to eternally punish us. Why? Because “God is love.” 1 John 4:8 God also says, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3
But God is Just and Therefore Must Punish Sin
God says He is “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty.” Exodus 34:7 He also says, “The soul who sins shall die” Ezekiel 18:4
So we see there is a great problem. Each of us has sinned and we rightly deserve death. In fact we are on death row NOW. We are condemned and dead already.
Here’s the Good News! God solved this problem for us in the Person of
4. Jesus Christ!
Who is this Jesus? Some say Jesus was a “good teacher.” Was He? The Bible tells us this young man that came to Jesus seeking to earn his way into the Kingdom said, “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus answered and said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God.” (Matthew 19:16-17; Luke 18:18-19).
Jesus was much more than a good teacher. He allowed people to worship Him on a number of occasions. For example, when He was born the wise men came “to worship Him (Jesus).” Matthew 2:2 The Bible records Jesus allowing others to worship Him, when He was an adult (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; Mark 5:6; John 9:38; etc.).
The Bible says the Word (Jesus) was “with God in the beginning and was God,” and that He (the Word) “became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:1-2, 14
Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again from the grave the third day. All of His disciples and over 500 people witnessed Him after the resurrection (1 Cor 15:6). Jesus appeared to women first. Why is this important? Because if the story was fictional, no author at that time would have used a woman for a witness. The testimony of a woman in that culture was not even allowed in court. Yet Jesus appeared to Mary first and then other holy women.
Jesus being the perfect, sinless God-Man, took on our sin and failure. The Bible tells us, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned, every one to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 Jesus Himself teaches in John 3:16, 18 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. He who believes in Him is not condemned, but He who does not believe is condemned already (that person is dead in his sins), because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
God carries out both justice and love by a legal transfer of our sin onto His Son at the cross. This satisfies the debt that is owed and frees us up to receive His gift of salvation to us. This legal transfer takes the weight and penalty of each of our sins and puts them upon God. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I (Jesus) will give you rest. You will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 This is God’s way, foreshadowed in hundreds of years of Jewish religious ceremony that was fulfilled perfectly in the sinless, spotless, Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the infinite God-Man. Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. He stated that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He said, “No one can come to the Father, except by Me (Jesus).” John 14:6 This claim separates Jesus from ALL other religion. All paths do NOT lead to God. Jesus Himself made that clear.
5. How to Receive This Life?
A Gift Through Faith!
Here, people make 2 mistakes:
1) Faith is not mere intellectual assent. This means that faith is not just believing certain historical facts about Jesus, like someone might believe that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. A pastor at a Missions conference told our congregation that he grew up in a Christian home, went to seminary and was a pastor for one full year; knowing the facts of Christianity, yet not believing in Jesus for salvation. He intellectually agreed with (assented to) the facts, but had not really trusted in Jesus Christ for His salvation. Additionally the Bible tells us, “if you believe that there is One God, you do well. Even the demons believe (in God) – and tremble.” James 2:19 Saving faith is not intellectual assent.
2) Faith is not mere temporal faith, that is, trusting God during a temporary crisis such as financial hardship needs, divorce, health needs or physical needs. This type faith believes in God only when a crisis hits – the idea being “God will be my security blanket to meet my needs for health and wealth.” When the times are good, then God is relegated (i.e. moved or assigned) to a lower or an inferior position. These type “believers” are in control until a problem comes up and then they invoke their faith to get God to do their bidding. Some of these people will command God to do things, maybe even in Jesus’ name. God to them is like a genie to pull out at convenient times for their own wishes to get accomplished. Saving faith is not mere temporal faith.
Saving faith is the key that opens the door to the Kingdom! It is trusting in Jesus Christ ALONE (not trusting in obedience, works or deeds) for salvation. Saving faith releases ALL we do into the gracious, loving hands of a merciful and kind God, believing in Him for the gift of salvation. Believe (i.e. trust or rest) in Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31 Saving faith is like the hand of a beggar receiving the gift of a king. Many times we may feel that way – worthless, hopeless, empty. Yet also understanding and believing that Jesus has taken our place for us on the cross. We don’t deserve the free gift of eternal life, but we can have it if we receive it by faith. The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12
This is the greatest story ever told. This is GOOD NEWS!
Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life? To clarify, this means a transfer of your trust from yourself and what you have been doing to Jesus Christ and what He has done for you on the cross.
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door (of your life) and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me (getting to know each other intimately).” Revelation 3:20
This means you receive Jesus Christ as LORD of your life. He is on the throne of your life. He created you, bought you and made you. He tells You to repent of your sin – turn from anything that is not pleasing to Him and follow Him as He reveals His will to you in His word, the Bible.
Receiving Jesus simply means you talk to God – just tell Him what you’re thinking and feeling. Something like, “Father, I’m a sinner. I have tried my own way and now I am believing and resting in Jesus for salvation. I confess my sins and repent and turn from them now. I accept You Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I trust in You to save me and your finished work on the cross. I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Welcome to God’s family! By the authority of God’s words, you are now a child of God. Today is your spiritual birthday. The Bible tells us, “Likewise, I (Jesus) say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10 Congratulations. The Bible tells us of many people when receiving salvation, went out with joy and told many others. Tell others what Jesus has done for you and Rejoice!!! living out of thanksgiving not obligation.
You CAN know for CERTAIN and be CONFIDENT and ASSURED that Jesus Christ saved you. The entire epistle (letter) of 1 John was written, “…to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13 The Holy Spirit through John wants you to KNOW that you have (currently possess due to the gift of Jesus and the seal of the Holy Spirit) eternal life. That’s why John wrote this letter. Jesus said, those who believe in Him are not condemned. Paul wrote, what Jesus starts, He finishes. Live for Him (Jesus) because He will never leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5 Trust Him. One of the differences between those who are religious and those who are Christ’s is that those who are Christ’s stop trying to earn the Kingdom. They instead, get to know King Jesus (John 15) and live out of thanksgiving for what He has done for them. In the end, there is marked change, clear obedience and clear fruit – people can tell they are different. The changed life and fruit is a result of the salvation of Jesus! Praise be to Him forever and ever.
Now, go back to the beginning and answer the 2 questions. Did you answer them correctly this time?