Ephesians 2:8 – 9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
In all my years as a pastor’s wife, I’ve had opportunities to talk to many, many people about their relationships with God. Very often, I have asked one simple question: “Do you know for sure that you will go to heaven when you die?”
And very often, I hear the answer, “Yes.” Praise God, right?
Well, not exactly. Because then, I have often said, “That’s great! Can you tell me how you know that you will go to heaven when you die?”
Well, friends, you would not believe some of the answers I have heard.
Because I’m a good person.
Because I was baptized as an infant.
Because I give money to charity.
Because I’ve never murdered anyone.
Because I go to church.
And even, Because I don’t kick my dog.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. These are all good answers! I am so very glad that we have so many good people in the world. But friends, while these may be good answers, none of them is the right answer.
You see, there is not one single person in this world who will ever be good enough to get into heaven. Friends, God’s standard of goodness is so far above our standard of goodness that God says our righteousness is like filthy rags to Him (Isaiah 64:6). He’s not trying to be mean. He’s just telling it like it is. We will never come close to measuring up to His standard of holiness and purity.
Others have taken the opposite approach, answering:
Well, uhm, I don’t know if I’ll go to heaven.
I don’t think so.
I’m not sure anyone can know that for sure.
But friends, we can know for sure! We don’t have to wander through this life, struggling to be good enough, hoping we will somehow tip the scales in our favor by doing more good things than bad things. God has already made it perfectly clear: we can never be good enough to go to heaven. We can never, ever hope to earn our way there.
But, miracle of all miracles, He loves us anyway! He doesn’t want to bar the gates of heaven shut and rattle around up there all alone. He wants us to join Him! And so He offers heaven to us as a free gift. We could never earn it. We don’t deserve it. But it is there for the taking, simply because He loves us.
He made the way for us to go to heaven by having His son, Jesus, pay our entrance fee. Now, all we have to do is acknowledge the gift He holds out to us. We must reach out and take it, by believing that, yes, Jesus paid the price we could not pay for ourselves.
Repeat after me: Heaven is a free gift. Heaven is a free gift. Heaven is a free gift.
All we have to do is take it, and say, “Thank you.”
We don’t have to try to be good enough. Just take the gift, and then He’ll take care of the Extreme Makeover, Soul Edition. First things first.
Have you accepted that gift?
Dear Father, Thank You for offering me the free gift of salvation. Thank You that I don’t have to struggle to be good enough for You to love me. I accept Your gift. Now, please start making me more like You.