Doing What We Can About Heaven

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The weekly church sign read: “Who will be in heaven because of you?”

Great question.

My inner reaction, embarrassingly, was a spontaneous jumble of off-point, defensive, legalistic, self-centered, arrogant, judgmental questions.  I wondered … am I doing enough?  Is my walk straight enough?  Is my witness true enough?  Is my writing about Christ affecting anyone in a positive way?  And, hey wait a minute, is that church full of people who think they can pave their own or someone else’s way into Heaven?

Notice: All questions, mostly about me, no answers.  Not a great response.

So let’s try again.  “Who will be in heaven because of you?”

The correct and final answer is: “Nobody.”

There it is.  We can’t save anyone.  Heaven is only there because of God, we can get there only because of Jesus Christ, and we only know about it because of the Holy Spirit.  There is only one way to stand in the presence of God and share the eternal, divine, loving fellowship of salvation in heaven – and that is to be justified; to have one’s earthly fallenness and sin restored to heavenly righteousness.

That work is above any earthly pay grade.

But how are we justified?  When do we “get saved”?  When are our sins forgiven and our fallenness restored?  While its secular shimmer makes it easy to miss, that’s why we celebrate Easter.  We are justified, forgiven, made righteous in faith, and restored to communion with God thanks purely to Christ’s work on the cross and not in any part due to our work in the world.

Romans 2, 3 and 4 provide the key biblical tutorial for how God’s righteousness, judgment and faithfulness “fix” mankind’s fallenness and how we gain righteousness in Christ.  Understand, our necessary righteousness has already been won by Christ on the cross, but only the combination of our faith and Christ’s love puts us in heaven.

But wait, isn’t “having faith,” in essence, “doing something”?  No.  Faith isn’t something we “do,” it’s something we have … or not.  Christians often confuse systematic obedience with loving faith. Christian faith is not a system to follow; it’s love in a relationship with Christ.  Obedience is merely evidence of a system, while faith is evidence of love.  That’s the difference in the Old and New Covenants – the old was about obeying laws; the new is about having faith and loving Jesus.

My efforts will never get anyone into heaven, including me.  But as indeed Jesus came for “all mankind” (John 3:16), our battle has already been won.

We’ll be in heaven because of Him.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) loves that church sign; he drives by it every day on the way to work.

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