. . . but no one wants to have to do anything to get there.
Or so it would appear.
Over the past couple of days, three people have asked me about getting into Heaven. And whilst they are certain they want to be there and definitely not “the other place” they seem reluctant to do anything about it. It has made me even more certain about that need for love, and that longing for God, which I was getting at a couple of days ago. They all say that they want to believe in something – they just don’t know what. I was once told that there’s a God shaped hole in each of our hearts, a desire that only He can fulfill, because we were never supposed to be separated from Him as we are and, even if we’re not always consciously aware, we’re always looking for a way to re-connect.
Trying to answer their questions has brought with it some thoughts for myself.
My reaction when someone asks me “How do you get into Heaven?” is simple: believe. But what is belief?? I know it says in John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”. But belief is different from knowledge – i.e. facts about Jesus and His life, death and resurrection – or agreeing with those facts; it’s about dependence on Jesus to save us. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology tells me that John 3:16 could also be translated “everyone who believes into him”. The suggestions of trust, confidence and reliance are unmistakable.
However, there’s another word that needs mentioning too: repentance. For it says in Acts 20:21 “I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus” and, furthermore, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”. Grudem defines repentence like this:
“Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ”.
And this is where people start to have difficulties.
Jesus message is not an easy one to accept. Belief? Sure! Action? Sacrifice? Selfless-ness? Give me a minute . . . or, you know . . . a lifetime!
It would appear that most are unwilling to make any significant changes and even more resistant to taking a chance or risk and trust in a God who they can’t see. They want to but it’s just too big an ask. So many want concrete proof before they take the “leap”. But in science you have to trust the experiment first – if you don’t trust the apparatus you won’t trust the result. Have a little faith and God will reward it. Knock on the door and He will answer.
I’m not saying it’s easy – I certainly didn’t find it so! Infact, everyday I have to make that decision again to trust God with my life and whilst it’s scary it’s the best decision I could ever make, every time. My rollercoaster ride with God these past three years has been immense and it’s all because I took that first miniscule step of faith.
So where does all this leave us?
Well, as Louis challenged us on Sunday we have to talk. We have to speak about God, about Jesus, about their love for us, at every opportunity. This can involve us taking risks too – maybe it’s about time we got over those fears of what people think about us and trust in God’s love for us. Because if we don’t tell them . . . “how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Rom 10:14). And we don’t just have to talk we have to show: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” (Luke 10:27). That’s a love of action – people can’t see God Himself but they can see Him in us. And, if it’s His will, God will reveal Himself to them in time.
Mark Driscoll has just posted a great piece on the Resurgence Blog: Evangelism