How would you answer the following question: " In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to get to Heaven?"
We have begun our TOUCH Ministry, in which we go into the community to share the good news. We are visiting the guests who attended our Hillcrest Community Fair and seeking their opinions about the Fair. The final question on that survey is the very question at the beginning of this Sip. Last week, we heard three answers: One talked about being good and doing the right thing, another talked about Jesus forgiving us of our sin and the third said to go to church and stay on the right path. Of those three, only one is close to a Biblical answer and it is not very clear. However, would you believe that all three go to Christian churches and all three probably believe they are saved?
Before we find fault with others, go back to the answer you gave to that question. Chances are, the majority of American Christians give a murky and unclear answer to that question. Many would give an answer that had something to do with faith in Jesus and then add the things Christians are supposed to do (tithe, go to church, etc). I have asked that question enough and have heard enough unbiblical answers over the years. It is distressing to think that many (If not the majority) of Christians in our churches cannot give a clear and concise answer to the most critical question we will ever hear. That would explain why more Christians don't share their faith - They can't express their faith clearly. I wonder how many of our neighbors, family members and friends who readily commit their lives to Christ if they could just hear a simple, clear understanding of the good news.
So let me see if I can tackle this: Option #1 - John 1:12. This passage says we must first of all, believe. We must believe that sin has separated us from God and that Jesus' death and resurrection paid the price for our sin. Then we must receive that gift by committing our lives to Jesus. It begins with a prayer of commitment, allowing Jesus total control of all we do. How did I do? Would you know what to do if you were wanting to have the gift of Heaven? This passage in John simplifies the good news to believing and receiving. We can't stop at believing, but must take a step of faith to take responsibility and make a decision.
If that is difficult to grasp, let me give you Option #2 - We learn this every year at Vacation Bible School, so it should be in your brain by now. Getting to Heaven is as simple as ABC. "A" means we must admit that we sin and are separated from God (Romans 3:23). "B" means we must believe that Jesus died in the place of our sin and rose from the dead. "C" means we must commit our lives to Him. We trade this life for the life to come. How did I do? I know, I changed the "C" because Lifeway uses "confess" for the "C". I just think we live in a society that understands but shies away from commitment. Would you know what to do if you were wanting the gift of Heaven?
If that is difficult to grasp, let me give you option #3 - Jesus used one phrase to discuss the assurance of Heaven: "Follow me". We must make a decision to follow Jesus for the rest of our lives. He becomes the one we imitate, trust and from whom we receive guidance. We turn from following our own path of sin and destruction and follow Jesus. How did I do? Would you know what to do if you were wanting the gift of Heavean?
Granted, these three options don't go into much depth, but they are simple ways to explain the grace we have received from God. Once we can't express this critical issue in a few, concise sentences, the doors will open for us to explain to others what we have just shared. I would challenge you to solidify in your own mind the answer you would give if someone were to ask you, "In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to get to Heaven?". That way, if another church came knocking on your door, they would immediately know they have found a brother or sister in Christ. That way, we can express our faith to those who are searching for truth in way that clarifies and opens doors. Be ready to give an answer for the hope you have in Jesus!