“I’m not perfect, but I do my best. I hope that’s enough to get me into heaven. What more could God expect?”
That’s the attitude of many, says Blair McFarland, Pastor at Bready Reformed Presbyterian Church.
But it begs the question: How good is good enough? A young man came to Jesus one day and asked: “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus’ reply was to the effect, what do you mean by ‘good?’ Are you comparing yourself to other people or to God?
“You know the commandments: do not murder, steal, commit adultery. All these I have kept,” he said. “What do I still lack?” Then Jesus said a rather strange thing.
“Sell what you have and give to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Jesus was referring to the first commandment, ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’
“What comes first in your life – the Lord or money?”
The Bible tells us that he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Heaven is God’s home. So the question naturally arises, What is God like? If we want to spend eternity with God we should learn something about him.
God is not like an indulgent grandparent that kids have round their little finger. They just ask for something and he gives in.
God is holy.
“He is of purer eyes than to behold evil.”
Because sin cannot exist in his presence there will be no sin in heaven.
So how can a sinner go to heaven? That’s our problem. And the answer is not by us trying harder. Because everything we do is tainted by sin.
It’s like walking on quicksand – the more we try, the more trouble we’re in.
The answer is found in 3 words beginning with the letter “P.”
The first is a Person. Christianity is not about rituals and ceremonies, but about the person of Jesus – a man from Galillee but also the Son of God.
He came from heaven on a mission. He lived a life without sin – something we could not do.
The second word is Payment.
When Jesus died on the cross it wasn’t because he was cornered and couldn’t get away.
He deliberately gave his life as a sacrifice for sin. He died as a substitute, taking the punishment others deserved.
On the cross he exclaimed, “It is finished.”
His mission was complete. He gave his life as payment for others’ sin.
The third word is Power. “I couldn’t live the Christian life,” is what many say.
And they are right. No one can live the Christian life in his own strength. That is where the power of God comes in. The Easter story does not end with Good Friday.
On the third day the tomb was empty. God had defeated death by his power.
That same power can break into your life and change you. God gives us a new life, with new desires.
All of this is by God’s grace. No one gets to heaven by being good. Fundamentally, we are all corrupt. Every day our debt to God increases.
But Christ has accomplished salvation and there is nothing more to add. Eternal life is a gift that we are invited to receive.
The basis is not what we do but what Christ has done. Turn to the Person. Yield your life to him and you will find power for living.
Instead of a vague hope of being in heaven you can have the firm assurance of living with Christ in glory for ever.
The series of meetings on the topic of “Heaven and Hell – a big joke?” continues throughout the month of April in Bready Reformed Church on Sundays at 11.30 and 7pm. All are welcome. 028 7184 1192.