Summary: Learn about where you’re going on life’s final elevator ride...up or down?
life’s final elevator ride
The story is told of a Sunday school teacher whose assignment was to explain to the six-year-olds in his class what someone had to do in order to go to heaven. In an attempt to discover what the kids already believed about the subject, he asked them a few questions.
“If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale, and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?”
“NO!” the children all answered.
“If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?”
Again the answer was, “NO!”
“Well then,” he said, “if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children and loved my wife, would that get me into heaven?”
Again they all shouted, “NO!”
“Well, how CAN I get into heaven?”
A boy in the back row stood up and shouted, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!”
There’s the problem: You gotta be dead to go to heaven. Consequently, you gotta be dead to know much about the place.
Now, some people claim to have seen heaven. They say they’ve died and come back to talk about it and have even written best-selling books on the subject. Now, their stories are interesting, but they never give a straight answer to the questions we’re all asking: “How do you get there? What can we do on this side of death to be sure we get a spot in heaven?”
Most agree that death is a prerequisite, but that’s pretty much where agreement ends and speculation begins. Tonight’s message is “going up?: life’s final elevator ride” and by the end of the message you’ll know for sure what you can and can’t do to get to heaven when you do kick the bucket.
II. Good People Go to Heaven?
I want to take the next few minutes and examine a view that many people hold when they consider the question, “how do you get to heaven?” and the view is this: good people go to heaven. In spite of all their differences and peculiarities, the religions of this world share one common denominator: How you live your life on this side of the grave determines what happens next. Here’s something to think about: If God appeared to you and asked, “Why should I let you into heaven?” how would you answer? If you’re like most people, your answer might run something along these lines: “I’ve always tried to…” “I never…” “I do my best…” The moral? Behave yourself now and you don’t really have to worry too much about what happens next. But then every once in a while something happens that forces you to seriously consider what’s next—a family member dies or you have a near-death experience because you almost hit that car in front of you while you’re changing the radio station.
You don’t LIKE to think about death. You rarely ever talk about it. But it’s a fact of life. The death rate for humans is 100 percent. There’s no chance of escaping it. Not to be morbid or anything, but at some point you’re going to die. And at that point you’ll find out real quick whether your view was the right view.
Several problems come to mind when looking at this view of “good people go to heaven.”
First of all, if good people go to heaven, then we need a clear and consistent definition of what is good. We need a list. We need to know that the rules reflect God’s standard, not something manufactured by important-looking guys in robes.
If God allows good people into heaven, but he didn’t bother to specify what he means by good, it leaves me to wonder just how good God is. Let me illustrate.
Pretend for a moment that you’re on the track team and you’re at your first meet. You’re standing at the starting line with all the other runners. Up ahead you notice that the track forks off in three directions. You also note the total absence of signs, flags, or markers. You ask a race official for a map and are informed that there is no map. And your eyes haven’t deceived you; there are no markers of any kind signifying the boundaries of the course. “What is the distance?” you ask. The race official just shrugs his shoulders and replies. “You just run. We’ll tell you when you cross the finish line, assuming you find it.” With no warning, the starting gun is fired and the runners take off in half a dozen different directions.
Would you call that a good race? What would you expect from upcoming meets? Would you try and get your friends to join the team after that race?