Archives for April 2007

SEVEN MISTAKEN NOTIONS ABOUT HEAVEN

Scripture Text: Acts 16:25-31

Contrary to popular sentiment, the Christian faith has ever only taught exactly one way for human beings to get to God’s heaven at the end of this life. To be sure, there are many denominations of Christians who hold differently on relatively minor issues. But, the Christian faith holds in solid union the single way to Heaven as revealed in the Bible, God’s holy Word.

There are probably many mistaken notions about Heaven and how to get there, but in my forty-five years as a minister, the ones I illustrate below are among the main misconceptions people seem to hold.

I will give them as I recollect them and then, at the end, I will explain what the Bible teaches about God’s plan of salvation.

The Seven Mistaken Notions About Heaven

1. BEING SURE OF HEAVEN IS NOT CONDITIONED UPON HOW NICE YOU ARE

The Bible teaches that there are actually NO nice people in the world as compared to God’s holy standard. We are all sinners, according to God.

As an example the Bible says of human beings in Jeremiah 17:9

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”

2. BEING SURE OF HEAVEN DOES NOT RELATE TO MEMBERSHIP IN OR ATTENDANCE UPON ANY CHURCH OR SYNAGOGUE

The day Christ died on the Cross He guaranteed Heaven to a man who had probably never darkened the door of any house of religion.

The thief on the cross that was adjacent to Christ’s, repented of his wickedness and called to Christ to save him. Jesus said: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” Luke 23:43.

Hundreds of times in Scripture the needs of men’s souls are discussed in Scripture. Not one time is it ever said or implied that salvation has anything whatsoever to do with attendance upon or membership in any church. In fact, the Bible never mentions church membership even once. Of course church membership has its place but that must not be confused with preparation for Heaven.

3. BEING SURE OF HEAVEN DOES NOT DEPEND UPON HOW RELIGIOUS YOU ARE

All references in the English Bible come from just two Greek words and are given exactly five times total. Four of the five mention religion negatively. The single reference to religion in a positive sense deals with being merciful to persons who have need such as widows.

Religious rituals are never spoken of in the Bible as a part of one’s salvation from sin. The Bible is not really a book about religion. It is a book about God’s redemptive plan.

4. BEING SURE OF HEAVEN IS NOT CONDITIONED BY ONE’S PHYSICAL HEALTH

Jesus tried to help the lame, the blind, the deaf and the downtrodden in His earthly ministry but there were many in His native land He never saw or was in a position to help. Those unfortunate souls He did not help were not victims simply because of their physical misfortune.

Heaven is never taught in Scripture to be a place of mere compensation for those whose health is poor. Weak and sickly or well and strong, neither in any way shape or determine one’s readiness for Heaven.

The Bible says “there are first that shall be last and last that shall be first-
Luke 13:30. God has a different way of measuring equity than we mere humans understand. No, Heaven is not a reward for those who have been unfortunate in this life.

5. BEING SURE OF HEAVEN DOES NOT DEPEND UPON THE STATE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Being sure of Heaven is not a scheme hatched out as a crutch to help dependent-type people who have trouble coping with “real life.”

The reality of sin and its consequences do not lead to poor mental health. Actually God’s Word assures us that understanding His Word is helpful in this regard: The Bible says: “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” -II Timothy 1:17.

6. BEING SURE OF HEAVEN DOES NOT HINGE UPON HOW BAD YOU ARE

According to Acts 10:34, “… God is not a respecter of persons.” In the eyes of God every person is a lost sinner until God saves him or her. There are not essential differences.

Regardless if your heart is as black as Hell with sin or if you have tried your hardest to avoid evil in your life– we humans are all lost until God saves us. We are, in that sense, equals.

The Apostle Paul, probably one of the most religious men of his day said of himself, before he became a Christian, that he was “the chiefest of sinners.” -I Timothy 1:5.

7. BEING SURE OF HEAVEN DOES NOT DEPEND UPON HOW MUCH FAITH YOU HAVE

Jesus said the faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain. God is sympathetic to the person who has a little faith even. A man cried out to Him one day: “… Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”- Mark 9:24.

It is not the quantity of faith that saves a person. It is the object of faith that we all need. Faith must be simply and only in the person of God’s dear Son who died on the Cross for us all.

Conclusion

The Roman Governor, Pilate, in presenting the tortured Christ, abused by soldiers and bedraggled by tormentors, said to the angry mob about him: “What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ.” Of course they all said: “crucify him.” And that was done.

But that death on the Cross was for you and me. The simple truth is that if any sinner, regardless of how bad or self-deluded into thinking himself not a sinner- regardless, Christ and Christ alone can save any and all.

The sinner’s prayer, so-called, is based upon an incident in Scripture where a poor sinner man called out for God’s help. He said: “God be merciful to me the sinner” -Luke 18:13.

Any person who will confess to God that he or she is a sinner and wants a way out of sin, can call upon Christ to save him or her. And He will. You can demonstrate that to your own satisfaction by calling out to God to save you. You can do it today. If you do, write to me and I will send you helps for your new Christian life. Come to Christ today for His perfect salvation. The greatest question of your life and mine is: “What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ?”

Rev. Kenneth F. Pierpont