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Summary: A sermon outlining the ways people think they will get to heaven.

How to NOT Get to Heaven

Various Scriptures

May 19, 2002


There is a story of Billy Graham when he was visiting a city for one of his crusades. He had finished writing a letter and began to look for a place to mail it.

Walking around the city for a while, he came across a young boy. He asked the boy if he knew how to get to the post office. The boy gave Billy Graham the directions and before leaving, Billy said to the boy, “Come on over to the arena tonight and I’ll tell you how to get to heaven.”

The boy looked at him and replied, “How can you know how to get to heaven? You don’t even know the way to the post office!”

Today I want to tell you that I do know the way to the post office, and more importantly, I know how a person gets to heaven, because the Bible tells us how.

But I want to take a different route to that same goal, by focusing on how to NOT get to heaven.

I like to ask people all the time if I can show them how to get to heaven. But I have not ever asked someone if I can show them how NOT to get to heaven. But that’s what I’m going to do today with you.

My purpose today is really to discuss the various ways people think they can go to heaven, and why those things do not work to bring us to heaven.

I have a feeling you may find yourself in one of these camps if you have not yet taken Christ as you Savior before today.

So let me ask you one other question before we get going here: would you like to know how to go to heaven? Would you like to know what God says about going to heaven rather than what humans have to say about it?

We will answer those questions as we look at how NOT to get to heaven.

Ready, here we go. The first way to NOT get to heaven is…

I. Trust your good works.

I asked a business friend of mine in Brookings once if he knew if he was going to heaven and why God should let him in.

He replied, “Oh yeah, He’ll let me in. I give turkeys to poor people every year at thanksgiving, and other stuff, too.”

I wish I could have said, “Congratulations! You made it into heaven! Way to go!”

Unfortunately, that’s not what God says. Look at this verse with me:

Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

You see, folks, there is no amount of charity, no amount of community service, no amount of kind words that will ever add up to be enough to get you into heaven.

I am not saying we should never do good works. In fact, we are commanded to do them.

Let me read you the next verse, verse 10:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Just because we do not get to heaven by good works does not mean we should not do them. In fact, as we can see from this verse, we are to do them all the more. They simply don’t get us to heaven.

So if you want to NOT get to heaven, trust in your good works to get you there. The next way to NOT get to heaven is…

2. Trust your traditions.

I like traditions. I’m a big fan of traditions. Some of my favorite traditions are things like singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at baseball games. Actually, I like singing the national anthem at sporting events.

Another favorite tradition of mine is the All-American Sunday afternoon nap. In fact, I’d put that up there with breathing as one of my favorite things to do.

But what I’m talking about here is mainly traditions of a religious nature. We will be talking in more general terms about religion in a bit, but I want to talk in specifics for a moment.

As I’ve just mentioned, I like traditions, but if we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

In their desire to serve and please God, they added to the law of Moses hundreds of other laws. And it came to the point that these guys were putting all their faith in these traditions.

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