Summary: In answer to the question: There seem to be a lot of different ideas about how a person can be sure to be allowed into Heaven. I have a lot of family members who tried different approaches. Are they in Heaven or not?
Question to be asked: There seem to be a lot of different ideas about how a person can be sure to be allowed into Heaven. I have a lot of family members who tried different approaches. Are they in Heaven or not?
Intro: I’m going to guess that the main reason for this question is that someone cares about their loved ones. That’s a good thing! Would that EVERYONE was in heaven! And how I wish that everyone loved their family members, and their friends too, enough that they would care whether or not those people are in Heaven. That’s a commendable concern, because it means that you love people and it also means you accept the reality of Heaven and Hell. No subject is more important than this question: What must I do to be saved?
I want to share a quote with you that takes that concern a degree further…
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
Well. That’s kind of tough to chew on, isn’t it? Who said that? Keith Green? Franklin Graham? No. That’s actually a quote from atheist Penn Jillette, of the magician duo, Penn & Teller. He’s not a Christian – not at all.
I just thought it would help us to keep that in front of us as we address this big question this morning. What we’re talking about isn’t just trying to speculate about something over which we have no control! What we’re ultimately looking at today is a question of what Christian people are supposed to do about people who aren’t believers yet!
We can’t talk about the spiritual state of people who have already died without also talking about the spiritual state of people who are still alive and what we should be saying to them, amen? So, I want to speak about this whole big, important, subject today, and also to address the specifics that usually come up when we talk about it.
The chances are that there might be some different answers given, depending on your background, your understanding, or, frankly, your level of pride.
What must I do to be saved? Ask that question – please! And and then answer today if you’re sitting here as a person who’s saved or who needs to change where you’re at!
There are a few important points that help answer this…
Salvation is conditional
One of the reasons people disagree on this subject is a misunderstanding about the nature of salvation.
From the very beginning, there were misunderstandings among believers regarding the relationship of God’s grace and good works. Some wanted to say that you are saved by good works, by law-keeping, but the NT is very clear that no one is saved on the basis of their good works. No one is saved on the basis of keeping the law. No one is saved because they have done enough good things that they somehow “earn” or “merit” Heaven.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Can you be saved by your good works, or just by being a “swell person”? NO. I may like you a lot. Others may like you a lot. That may especially be true if you’re no longer alive, because, somehow, our personal goodness seems to rise to the surface after we die! Have you noticed that? But our good works can’t save us.
Listen in to what Jesus said,
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”