Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Week Special (Part 3): Our Assurance of Heaven

"There's a bridge to cross the great divide

A way was made to reach the other side
The mercy of the Father, 
cost His son His life
His love is deep, His love is wide
There's a cross to bridge the great divide."

That is the chorus of an old song that I love, it's called "The Great Divide" by the group Point of Grace. It talks about the great divide that is between man and God. The bible mentions this truth in Isaiah 59:2,

"But your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden His face from you
so that He does not hear.
." (NASB)
The song speaks of the truth that "God is gracious but sin that is in us would still separate us from God." 

The song's chorus simply explains it all. The Word of God has established that we are all sinners, and thus, separated from our God. There is this great divide between sinful man and Holy God. But there is hope for there was a way made to reach the other side! The cross of Jesus Christ bridges that great divide between us and God. This was the only way given by the Father for man to be reconciled to Him. This is the way He has provided that we may be assured of heaven - where we live eternally with God. This was a promise and an assurance to man that IF we cross this bridge He's provided, we are sure get to the other side. There's no doubt about it, the CROSS will get us there.

Many of us, unfortunately, would find this idea ridiculous. We somehow cannot accept the truth that there is only one way to reach the other side. We somehow find it difficult to acknowledge that we can be sure of our place in heaven. Most of the time we cling to this idea, this belief that we have to do something in order to be pleasing to God and be accepted into Heaven.

When we carefully think about our deepest desire to be in heaven, we would have to come to a point of acknowledging eternity. The Bible tells us that God Himself has planted eternity in our hearts! (See Ecclesiastes 3:11). May we understand, though, that no earthly body will ever be found in heaven...

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.." (1 Cor. 15:50, KJV)

Since we all want to get to heaven someday, we ought to understand that we need to have eternal life in order to be there. For what good will it be if our souls will find its end in the second death which is the lake of fire (as we found out in Part 2 of this series)? 

We all need to have eternal life. How to we get eternal life, then? I'm so glad you asked. A Bible verse that has been so taken for granted will answer this for us...

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

God's only Son gives us this eternal life! Jesus Christ, God's only Son, became mankind's Savior...

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all meninstructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.." (Titus 2:11-14)

Jesus Christ died for us in order to redeem us from perishing. He was sent by God the Father to save mankind from the wrath to come. Jesus Christ is our bridge to God the Father...

"...we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son..." (Romans 5:10)

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36)

Jesus' words declared it for us, "Whoever believes in the Son of God HAS eternal life..." The moment we believe what God has done for us - that we are separated from Him because of our sins; but that He loved us and didn't want anyone to perish; that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us - is the moment we have eternal life. 

Nowhere in the Bible will we read about needing to do something else for ourselves in order to get to heaven. Believing in God's plan of Salvation and believing in the work of Jesus Christ alone, IS THE ONLY WAY and ONLY REQUIREMENT to get to heaven! Our assurance is not found in what we can do in this lifetime, but instead it rests in the Savior, JESUS CHRIST.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47)

Jesus didn't say we "might" have eternal life or we "will" (in the future) have it if we believe in Him. He instead said we "have" eternal life once we believe in Him! That is an immediate thing. That is our assurance of heaven... it is rooted in Christ Jesus, it is rooted in His Word.

John 3:16 is a very simple statement to understand, but it's one that is very hard to swallow, to sink in, to accept, to BELIEVE in. This is where the battle lies... it is a matter of FAITH in His words and His promises. This is where Jesus loses most of us because majority of mankind believes in "self" to work something out. It takes the Holy Spirit to work in a person's heart in order to understand all this clearly, and to accept that as it is. 

There's really no magic formula, no 10-step-process to follow, no 5-sets of this and that, no doctoral degree needed in order for man to be assured of his place in heaven with God. There is only that one big leap of faith, though, that may only come by the mercy and grace of the Almighty God.

Many of us acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, many even have the ability to call Him "Lord", but not everyone who really does will get to heaven. Because there is only ONE way to heaven. There is only one bridge to cross. There is only one Cross that bridged the great divide. 

"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)

Do you believe in the Son of God who died on the cross to redeem you from your sins and give you eternal life? Can you say today that you are sure that you are going to heaven when your earthly body dies? Do you have that assurance that you have a place in heaven with God?

Believing in Jesus Christ is more than saying "I believe in Him...", for the truth of His work is harder to swallow than most of us think.

We will look into this saving work of Jesus Christ in the next part of this series, and see why it is going to be harder to believe in Him than we might think...

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