What does it take for a person to go to heaven?
1st of all it takes faith in God’s word. it is impossible for God to allow sin into heaven.
James 2:13 says that because of who God is, his judgment is against sin.
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
Furthermore, Romans 3:23 says, because of who we are, every person is a sinner.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Yet, 1st John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just
to forgive our sins.
1 John 1:9.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John 3:16 goes on to say, that forgiveness is available to all.
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.
Yet, John 3:16 also says that forgiveness is not automatic, that whosoever
believeth. 1st and foremost we must believe in Jesus. Additionally a criterion
of believing in Jesus, according to Matthew 7:21 and 1st John 5:2 , is that
we do his will and keep his commandments.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
1 John 5:2.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
In short, If we turn from sin and self, and turn to Christ only we will experience
heaven here and hereafter. Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly
here on earth (John 10:10 ), as well as in heaven (John 14:3 ).
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Let me take a moment to talk about eternal life in the here and the hereafter.
One of the most familiar passages of Scripture is John 3:16. It seems like everybody knows that verse from a young age, yet I believe it has really been misunderstood and misapplied. John 3:16 says, "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."
Traditionally, this scripture has been used to teach that Jesus came and died for our sins so that we wouldn't perish. As true as this is, this verse is saying that the real purpose of Jesus coming to this earth and dying for us was so that we could have everlasting life. It just so happened that our sins were a barrier that stood between us and this everlasting life.
It is true that Jesus did die for our sins, and it is true that if we believe on Jesus, we will not perish, but there is much more to the Gospel than that. The real message of the Gospel is that God wants to give you everlasting life. Now let me explain that.
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was praying, and He said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ" (John 17:3).
This says that everlasting life is, knowing the Father, the only true God, and knowing Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. That's what everlasting life is. Many people think that everlasting life is living forever. Well, every person lives forever. It's a misconception to think that when a person dies they cease to exist. The spirit and the soul go back to God. The body decays in the grave. The truth is, every person who has ever lived on the face of the earth will continue to live in spirit form. So, to say that eternal life is living forever is not the whole truth, everybody lives forever. This verse makes it very clear that eternal life with God is not automatically given to everyone.
Some people would say, "Eternal life is living forever in heaven versus
living forever in hell:' But eternal life is just what Jesus said in John 17:3,
to know God and Jesus Christ. It's more than an intellectual knowledge. This
word "know" is used throughout Scripture to describe the most intimate,
personal relationship that you can have, as Adam knew Eve.
The real purpose of salvation is not living forever in heaven, as great as that will be. The real purpose of salvation is to have intimacy, a personal relationship with the Lord God. There are multitudes of people who have cried out to God for the forgiveness of their sins but have never had intimacy with God as a goal.
By not explaining the real purpose of salvation, we are doing a disservice to the Gospel. When we present salvation as something that deals with just spiritual things that will only benefit us in the future, in eternity, we are not helping people. There are some people who are living in such a literal hell right now on earth. Many are depressed, living in poverty, dealing with strife, rejection, hurt, and failed marriages. People are just trying to survive day to day. They are just trying to keep their heads above water. By making salvation something that deals only with the future, many people put off that decision because they are too busy just trying to survive today, or they settle for a quality of life that is far less then what Jesus intended. They settle for sickness, disease, depression and oppression.
The truth is that Jesus not only came to affect our eternal destinies so that we can live forever in heaven in blessing instead of the punishment and curse of hell, but Jesus also came to deliver us from this present evil world (Galatians 1:4). Jesus came to give you intimacy and a personal relationship with God the Father today.
Jesus came to bring you back into a close, personal relationship with Him.
Jesus loves you. Jesus wants to know you personally. Jesus wants to give you
a quality of life that is greater than anything you could obtain through any
Jesus put it this way in John 10:10: "The thief [speaking of Satan] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (brackets mine). God wants to give you eternal life.
Eternal life, that abundant quality of life, does not start when you die, but it starts in this world today (John 5:24-29). - Here begineth the reading of God's Holy Word. John 5:24-29 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. - Here endeth the reading of God's Holy Word. Notice in verse 24 the present possession of eternal life. They have already passed from death into life. Verse 25 "A time is coming and has now come". A reference not only to the future resurrection but also to the fact that Christ gives life now. The spiritually dead who hear him now receive life from him now.
God wants to give you abundant life, and I believe that you need that today, that you want that. Christ died not only to forgive your sins, but to bring you close to him. If you don't know the Lord, you need to know Him for that purpose. If you've already been born again, you need to go beyond just getting your sins forgiven, and enter into everlasting life with the Father.
Jesus many times used parables, stories which illustrated spiritual truths. Luke 18:9-14 begins, "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." Jesus was targeting a certain audience: those who trusted that they were righteous and automatically despised and looked down on everyone else. He told this parable to these people who trusted in the things they did. We would call them self-righteous, which is what Jesus was speaking about when He said they looked down on everyone else saying, "I am better than you!"
In verse 10, Jesus says, "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican." We would say in modern language that they went to the church to pray, and one was a Pharisee. A Pharisee was a very religious person. The word actually means "separated one," someone who was so religious that in a sense they would say, "Don't defile me!
Don't get too close to me. I'm not like other men! I am better than everyone else!" The other man Jesus mentioned was a publican. Publicans were tax collectors and were known to be very evil, sinful people who cheated and defrauded. They collected taxes by any means they could, stuck a lot of the money in their pockets, and gave some of it to the Roman government, so they were not looked upon favorably by their peers.
The story continues in verse 11, "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not like other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." I want you to notice that. Who was he praying to? He was actually praying to himself even though he was saying "God" and using the right words. God was not acknowledging his prayer, and we'll see later why that was so. Notice that he prayed, "God, I thank You I am not like other men." This Pharisee, this religious man, said, "I am not like other men. I am not sinful. I am not an extortioner, not unjust, not an adulterer, and I am not like this publican right here he was better than them.
In verse 12, the Pharisee said, "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." He was saying, "Notice what I do?" Do you know what it means to fast? It actually means to go without food. He also gave money to the church. He was one of those people who say,
"Don't bother me! I live a good life! I give to charity! I give money down at the church!" Then we come to the tax collector in verse 13: "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast.
When the Bible talks of smiting the breasts in the Old Testament, many times they also tore their garments, which was a way of saying, "I am sorry, God, for what I have done!" It was a sign of repentance, a contrite heart, and a broken spirit, which God would not despise. This tax collector, sinful man that he was, cried out to God and prayed, "God be merciful to me, I am a sinner!"
Verse 14 says, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." The publican went home justified, declared righteous before God, in right standing with God, forgiven by God. Why was he forgiven? Why did he go to his home in right standing before God and not the religious Pharisee? It was because the Pharisee exalted himself, saying "I am better than other people! I am not sinful! I am not like other men," while the tax collector knew he had no standing before God, nothing he could offer Him. He was a sinful person. The Bible says Jesus didn't come to save righteous people but sinners, and we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. This tax collector humbled himself and found forgiveness and pardon.
We're talking about salvation by grace. Grace is a wonderful word, and I am going to give you an accepted definition of what it means, but grace means much more. In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, grace is the word charis. An accepted definition of grace is this: the free, unmerited favor of God toward people who don't deserve it. This tax collector didn't deserve anything from God, but he found God's favor because he humbled himself. There is another word in the Greek, charisma, which is charis with the suffix -ma on the end. It means a specific manifestation or form of God's grace, and this tax collector found justification, right standing, before God as a gift.
Romans 5:17 says, "They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." God offers you and me right standing before Him as a gift and, according to our passage, the tax collector found that gift of justification, that gift of righteousness that only comes through Jesus Christ. The Bible says in John 1:17, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." This grace is only offered to one kind of person, those who humble themselves and know they have no standing before God, who cry for God's mercy. These people will find God's mercy and pardon.
• The scripture.
• Class notes.
• Disciple Evangelism: Andrew Wommack.