“If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get into heaven?” a man asked the children in his Sunday School class. “No!” the children all answered.
“If I cleaned the church building every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into heaven?” Again, the answer was “No!” “If I never told another lie and never said another bad word, would that get me into heaven?” Once more, a resounding “No!”
“Well,” he continued, “then how can I get into heaven?”
A five-year old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!”
Maybe not the deepest of theology, but there’s certainly some truth there. No, you won’t get into heaven because you do a bunch of nice things and stop doing all the bad stuff. The Bible is clear that “there are none righteous, no not one” and that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That is, in and of ourselves, we would never have the ability to reach into heaven because of our good works.
But because of His mercy and grace, God allows us the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, who sent to the cross on our behalf. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Our only means of getting to heaven is accepting the gift He has offered, not earning our way to paradise. We come to Him by faith, believing in His promise that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The question for us–and for the little boy who answered the question above–is, when does eternal life begin? I would suggest that you don’t have to wait until you die to experience the eternal blessings of a life with God, but that it is available now, even while you’re alive. Jesus described it this way, in His own prayer to His heavenly Father in John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You.” He was saying that the promise of eternal life is not just about a quantity of life–that we live forever–but a quality of life, that of knowing God and enjoying His presence in our lives. This–knowing God–defines what eternal life is.
That’s why we were created, to live in right relationship with our Creator and to enjoy the blessings of His favor every day. So you don’t have to sit around till you die so you can enjoy the “abundant life” that God offers, but you can start now. Eternal life for living people…what a concept!
I hope and pray that you know God and have experienced the joy of forgiveness and hope that comes only through a personal relationship with Him. If you haven’t, we’d love to talk to you further about that and help lead you to trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior so that you can begin enjoying the blessings of life everlasting in the here and now.
I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.