Eternal life… Heaven… Everyone gets in, right?
A man named Nicodemus came to Jesus troubled in his mind about spiritual matters (John chapter 3.) He had devoted his life to studying the scriptures, he was a prominent man with a good reputation among the people, and in his eyes he was morally acceptable. Still, in light of his self-proclaimed “A” grade, he was troubled in his mind thinking he might be missing something.
The question he really had is the same question many of us have: Am I on my way to heaven? I think we’d all agree that isn’t something we want to be wrong about.
But despite what many think, a person doesn’t get to go to heaven simply by default. In fact, Jesus said many who think they’ll gain entry will be told to ‘depart from Him.’ (Matthew 7:21-24)
Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus’ question holds the only key to knowing whether or not a person is on the path to heaven. In response, Jesus told Nicodemus, “No man will enter or even see the kingdom of God unless he is ‘born again.’
Wow. If that’s the case, and it is, then how important is it for us to understand what that means?!
Let me start by saying this, we may be good (morally right) in our own eyes, but none of us is good enough in God’s eyes. Our problem is that we tend to judge ourselves in light of those who commit robbery, rape and murder. And since we’ve never done those things, then surely we’re good enough to get into heaven. But there’s a problem. When we face the Lord on judgment day we will not be judged based on the standard of goodness set by others, we’ll be judged by God’s moral standard of perfection. So if you think you’re good enough for heaven, you might first want to take a look at The 10 commandments to see how “good” you really are in God’s eyes…
Let me ask you a few questions based on the 10 commandments:
– Have you ever lied? How many lies have you told in your life? Hundreds? Thousands?
– Have you ever taken something that didn’t belong to you? Irrespective of its value?
– Jesus said if you’ve lusted after another in your mind (even if you didn’t act upon it) you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Have you ever looked with lust? How many times have you done that in your life?
– Jesus also said if you hold anger/hatred in your heart towards another it’s the same as murder in God’s eyes.
You see, its not about behavior alone. With God, its about the heart. And we’ve only looked at 4 out of the 10 commandments.
When we look at God’s commandments, they look back at us just as a mirror, reflecting our true condition on the inside. In looking at that mirror we see that we’re not nearly as good as we think we are. And the Bible tells us that because of God’s law, the whole earth stands guilty and condemned already.
We (you, I, and all of humanity) have a grave dilemma- we’ve broken God’s laws and we have to stand before Him on judgment day. On that day, our goodness will fall desperately short and our sentence is certain. Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a man be ‘born again, he’ll never enter heaven. Neither his knowledge nor his ‘good life’ would save him.
Nicodemus thought he had it together and was on the path to heaven. He was wrong. Are you?
Friend, it doesn’t matter what you think about yourself. God sees the real you. Whether or not you believe the Bible, the only way you and your loved ones will enter heaven and escape hell is to be ‘born again.’ How does that happen? Don’t listen to preachers who tell you its simple. Its simple to explain, but not easy to do. It will cost you everything.
1- Confess to God that you’re a sinner and ask Him to forgive your sin.
2- Believe that what God did in sending Jesus to die on the cross is your only means of salvation. (The heart of the gospel message is simply this: though you, I, and all of humanity stand guilty as sinners before God, instead of pouring His wrath out on us, giving us what we deserve, He poured His wrath out on His own Son. The innocent dying for the guilty. For those who believe and put their trust in Jesus, God no longer sees our sin, but instead sees the righteousness of His son. We broke God’s laws, but Jesus stepped in and took our punishment. (Read John 3:16)
3- Put your faith in Jesus alone to save you.
4- Here’s the hard part- repent of your sins. That means stop doing what is contrary to God’s desires and begin living your life in obedience to Him. A lot of people profess a belief in God and can even tell you what Jesus did for sinners. But they still curse like sailors, sleep around, take the Lord’s name in vain, get drunk, gossip, hold hatred and prejudice, they lie, they walk all over others, they care only about themselves… they don’t want to go to church to worship and be with other believers, and really, they get uncomfortable and even offended if the name of Jesus comes up around them. What they’ve done is merely form a ‘mental agreement’ that Jesus is the way. That knowledge alone will not save them. (Let me say it this way: We all believe a life jacket will save us if we’re drowning in the ocean. But even though we believe it will save us, we will still drown if we don’t put it on.)
Being ‘born again’ has everything to do with ‘putting the life jacket on.’ Turning from your old ways and turning to Gods’ ways. Asking God to forgive your sin, and surrendering your life to Him. It doesn’t mean you’ll be morally perfect from that point forward. Though you give your best effort, you will continue to fall short. But when you mess up, God’s grace and forgiveness will cover you. You’ll get back up and continue to follow Him.
Friend, I’m only writing this because a lot of people have the same question Nicodemus had, but are just too embarrassed to ask someone. I’m answering the question you’ve been wanting to ask.
So, ‘are you’ on the path to heaven and eternal life?
Jesus said, nobody will enter or even see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. That’s the only way. Think about these things. There is nothing more important in this life than being prepared for the next. This life is temporal, what follows is eternal.
I STRONGLY encourage you to make sure your family and loved ones understand this. And for the love of God, don’t merely hold the life jacket in your hands- put it on!
~ Jason Mayfield
Pastor, Brushy Fork Baptist Church