Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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God's Grading System for Heaven

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I did a funeral for a good friend a few weeks ago, a friend who for sure is in heaven even as you read this.

But that brings up the question of "How do we know for sure we are headed for heaven?"  There are lots of theories on how God decides who gets into heaven.  Most of those theories can be explained by comparing them to a grading system in school.

RIGHT MINUS WRONG

Some people think that God grades on a "right minus wrong" system.  Do more right things than wrong things and  you are in.

PERCENTAGE SYSTEM

Others think that just squeaking by with 51% right actions like those who believe in the "right minus wrong" system, isn't enough.  There must be a percentage higher than that, that a person has to hit.  No one knows what that percentage might be, but it has to be more than a simple 51% majority, they presume.

GRADING ON THE CURVE

Still others think that a percentage system isn't the way to go, but that God grades on a curve.  All you have to do is be a better person than that old church-going hypocrite up the street.  If he is going to get into heaven with all his faults, surely "you" are going to get into heaven, since you have fewer faults.  (Nevermind the "pride" factor that is a serious problem with this view!  LOL!)

E IS FOR EFFORT

Others suggest that none of the above are correct.  What really matters is trying to be a good person.  Effort is what this is all about. God knows who is trying and who isn't trying.  All who make an effort to be a good person should get into heaven in this view.

BREATHING

Still others don't like any of these grading methods that have been listed.  As long as we are breathing we get to go to heaven, these folks think.  Breathing, being alive, that's all that matters.  Effort shouldn't matter. God is love, they say, so all should get to go to heaven (never mind that that God is also just!)

Of course you immediately see the problem with these views:  They can't all be right at the same time.  Second, in every class I have ever been in, the teacher or professor selected the grading system.  Third, with these grading systems those who hold them are only guessing!

But there is an answer to what God's grading system is.  It is the percentage system.  If we are going to get into heaven on our own merit, we have to be 100% perfect.  And of course there is immediately a problem for us with that grading system:  We all know that we have sinned.  We know that we have done some wrong things in life.

Thankfully God in his mercy has provided a way out for us.  He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sin.  When we put our faith in Christ's death on the cross as payment for our sin, asking God to forgive us through Christ's payment, God does forgive and grants us the eternal life he promised.

The Bible says in 1 John 5 in the New Testament:

God has given us life and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has the life, he who has not the son of God has not the life.  I write this to those of you who believe in the name of the son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

John also wrote in the Gospel of John:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Paul wrote:

If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is (our) Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved.

While these statements are either true or false, they are not unclear.  Your decision is whether to believe them or not.  My recommendation is that you believe them and bet your life on them.  Ask Christ to come into your life before it is too late.

Here's a prayer to pray sincerely so you can be sure you are headed for heaven when you die:

Lord God, I recognize today that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.  I ask you to forgive my sins through Jesus Christ dying on the Cross as payment in full for my sins.  I trust in his payment and his payment alone for my forgiveness.  I surrender my life to you and give it to you to do with what you will.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit as you promised and grant me the eternal life you promised through Christ.

If you prayed that prayer, tell someone you love and trust about it.  When the day comes for your funeral it will give them and your family comfort to know of the decision you made.  And find a Bible believing church to attend.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

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Being Ready for Your Last Day

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Last Sunday my wife and I returned from a trip to Nashville.  We were there in the recording studio while a country music song I co-wrote was being recorded.  When we arrived back home and went through the mail we discovered that a friend of mine had passed away.

A young man of 56 years, always in good health, exercising regularly and keeping his weight in good shape all the time, suddenly and unexpectedly was gone.  In the middle of the sadness and shock, a thought came to mind:  I wondered if he was "ready."

Are you ready for that day?

When that day will come for me I want to be ready in a variety of ways.

I want to be sure that I've put things in order for my wife so that she'll be taken care of when I'm gone.  I want to be sure that my children and grandchildren know that I loved them.  I want to be sure that there are no loose ends relationally. I want to be sure that to the extent humanly possible, the wrongs I've done in this life have been righted, apologies given, relationships restored.  I want to be sure that the paper trail of my life says, "This was a life well lived."

Most importantly I want to be sure that I'm right with the Lord in terms of eternity.

We are eternal beings.  When our bodies die, our spirits live on.  That is what the Bible teaches.  God has a preferred destination for each of our spirits, and it is heaven.  Know that if you are reading this today, heaven is God's preferred destination for you when this life is over.

But how to be ready?  How to get there?

That path is clearly laid out in the Bible in John 3:16,  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

God gave his Son Jesus Christ, so that Christ could pay for all the "I'm not ready" parts of our life, that is to say, so he could pay for our sins so we don't have to.

If you have never said "yes" to God's offer of forgiveness, let me encourage you to do so today.  The precise words aren't the issue, but the meaning behind them is.  Here's a sample prayer which if said with genuine sincerity (meaning you have to mean it), makes you ready to meet the Lord and will start you on a path in this life of walking with him now.

If you want to be sure you are headed for heaven when you die, sincerely pray this prayer:

"Lord, I confess to you today that I'm a sinner and that I have sinned.  I don't deserve heaven, but am grateful that you have made a way for my sins to be forgiven so I can go to be with you there in heaven when I die.  I ask that you forgive me through Christ.  What I mean Lord is what you have laid out in the Bible, that if I repent of my sins and put my faith in Christ's death and resurrection and payment for my sins, that I will be forgiven and will go to heaven when I die.  Please do forgive me through Christ.  I put my faith in him and ask that you fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can begin to walk with you now by faith until the day I see you face to face.  I pray this in the name of Jesus who is now my Lord.  Amen"

Friend, I can tell you on the authority of the Bible, that if you pray that prayer and mean what it says, you are on your way to heaven.  You are "ready."

Don't wait until it is too late.  Put your spiritual house in order while you can.  You will never regret doing so.
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