Summary: Jesus tells us that "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." So what do I need to DO to make it to heaven?
OPEN: A Sunday School teacher had spent the time teaching her young class that you couldn’t work your way into heaven. Then she asked the kids in her Sunday School class, "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?" "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"! "Well then, how can I get to Heaven?" In the back of the room, a young boy timidly raised his hand and said: “You gotta be dead!” (Tina Miller)
This morning’s sermon asks the question “How do I get to heaven?”
Now, "being dead" is a reasonable answer - but it is not entirely true. For example, not everybody who’s going to heaven will be dead. I Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
If we live long enough to see Jesus come again we will NOT die. We’ll rise up from this earth and meet Him in the air.
ILLUS: I used to tell people I believed Jesus would come by the time I was 50 (long pause)… I missed it by that much.
So 1st, you don’t have to die to go to heaven. If you and I live until Jesus comes again we will meet Him in air. BUT not everybody who dies is going to heaven. Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
So, how do I get into heaven? Well (according to Jesus) I need to do the His will. We’ll get to that in just a couple minutes… but first we need to make something clear. The 1st thing we’ve got to understand is that we can’t earn our way into heaven. Titus 3:5 “(God) saved us, NOT because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.”
And Ephesians 2:8-9 says “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.”
There is NOTHING you or I can do to earn Heaven. Romans 5:16 “… the FREE GIFT is not like the result of that one man’s sin (Adam). For the judgment following one trespass (Adam’s) brought condemnation, but the FREE GIFT following many trespasses brought justification.”
IT’S A FREE GIFT!
One man put it this way: When we work a 40 hour week and receive fair pay for our time, that is a wage.
When we compete in athletics and receive a trophy, that is a prize. When we receive recognition at work for long service or achievement that’s an award. But, when we are incapable of earning a wage, and we can win no prize, and we deserve no award—and yet we receive a gift anyway—that’s grace.” It’s a free gift! (https://www.housetohouse.com/salvation-is-free-but-it-is-not-cheap-2/)
God is very clear about this truth: you can NEVER EARN Heaven. You will never deserve salvation. It’s a free gift. You can’t be good enough to be good enough to earn heaven.
Now does that mean we can’t DO anything at all to receive salvation? I mean there are people who believe that if you even think you could do anything that’d help you obtain salvation you have offended God. It’s offensive to some folks to say you could DO anything to be saved. I’ve even heard one person teach that you don’t have to REPENT to be saved because that would be “DOING” something (repenting)… and you can’t DO that!
And yet, when a Philippian jailer asked Paul and Barnaba: “Sirs, what must I DO to be saved?” Paul wasn’t offended. He didn’t rebuke the jailer. It seems like a logical question. And we’re told that in response to that question they replied “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they went to the man’s house and taught him and his family what to believe and that same hour of the night (about midnight) the jailer and his family were baptized into Christ. Acts 16:30-33
“So, what must I do?” is asked by the Jailer, and Paul tells him the answer to that question. It seems like a logical question. God has offered me a free gift, and I’m inclined to ask: “What must I DO to obtain that free gift?”