Jesus is the gate leading into the sheep fold of God and onto the narrow road to heaven. Entrance is through the blood of Jesus. There is no other way (Acts 4:12). Romans 10:9 gives one side of salvation, namely ‘if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ This agrees with what Joel teaches: ‘And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Acts 2:21). Does that mean that people need only accept Jesus Christ and then they cruise down a wide river, with heaven winking in the distance; or float on a gondola, being pushed and steered by somebody, while they sip champagne and eat chocolates? If that was true, it would have been wonderful. Then every one in the whole world would rush to be saved, so that they can be happily on their way to heaven. (Wouldn’t heaven then be here in this earthly life?)
If being a Christian was that easy, it leaves us with a few questions.
- Why is the Bible so thick? Why does it contain so much history about God and His involvement with people? A small note like ‘Get saved and jump on the joy ride to heaven,’ would have been enough.
- Why does the Bible give an outline of history from the very beginning right to the end?
- Why was it necessary for God to reveal that He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)?
God gave us the whole story, because He knew we would have to persevere as Christians. It would help us if we understand God’s plan and purpose. The Creation report and the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, explain the need for redemption. Not only people, but the planet is suffering under the curse of sin. Both are parallel: salvation for man and the earth. They are tied together. God gave us an uphill road to heaven (Acts 14:22), to eliminate those who accept Jesus only for the benefits. He has to be sure that we love Him, and are willing to live under His kingship eternally.
On this side of the grave people have the opportunity to choose to follow God. We have a free will. It is just like the angels. Before the devil’s rebellion they could choose to remain loyal to God or to rebel against Him. After the devil’s rebellion, they lost their freedom of choice. They cannot change allegiance again. Those on the side of the devil can never be redeemed again and those on the side of God became confirmed in their loyalty to and love for God. In the same way, human beings have a limited time on this side of the grave to choose to escape out of the devil’s world system and accept Jesus Christ. After death the freedom of choice stops. Those people who chose to reject God’s invitation, are eternally in the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:42). Those people who accepted Jesus will love the Lord eternally. The decisive period is now. How do we conduct our lives? Do we really love the Lord our God with all of our mind, soul and heart (Matthew 22:37)? If we do not do it here, what makes us think that there will be an opportunity to do it after death? Or what makes us think we will be with the Lord? Do we imagine that Jesus spoke all of those words in the Bible just for fun?
This misunderstanding of the value and seriousness of salvation is so important because we often do not comprehend the enormity of eternity. While we are living we can repent and turn around. After death we cannot. What about the man Jesus spoke about: he thought he would go to heaven, but in that day Christ will say to him, ‘Go away, I do not know you’ (Matthew 7:21-23)? He lived in a fool’s paradise, thinking that God’s word is just idle talk, hoping that the angels will welcome him. Why would God allow this man in heaven? He wasn’t dependable on earth, what would cause him to become dependable in heaven? We can take our cue from the angels who chose God. They became confirmed in their loyalty and love, since we never read about another rebellion. We only read how they worship and serve God while the defectors are awaiting their judgement in hell.
We cannot expect God to allow us into heaven if we don’t have time for Him on earth.
We cannot expect God to allow us into heaven if we do not love Him here before we die.
What if we remain confirmed in the level of Christian growth we reached on earth, for the rest of eternity in heaven? The time to learn to love God is here and now. Our training by the Holy Spirit takes place in this present life. This principle of confirmation of your earthly state is often overlooked by believers. We so desperately want to have the easy life, forgetting that the trouble we now have on the narrow road, will lead to billions of years of bliss, happiness and contentment. Are we so lazy that we do not want to invest in this wonderful kingdom? It is a kingdom where God gives everything: He even supplies the Holy Spirit to help us every step of the way.
What is the principle we would like to emphasize? Just this: rather confront a person now. It might make him/her angry, but it is better than to leave him ignorant of the facts. After death it is too late. Just imagine what it must feel like if you are lost for all eternity, regretting every moment of your complacency and dilution of the Gospel. Nothing can be done about it: it is fixed, final, terrible. The beautiful house you had on earth, the investments, the pleasure, the nice goodies: everything is burned up, and you sit in misery. Wrong investments now can be overcome. Wrong investments in the kingdom of God have eternal consequences. After death it is too late. It is our duty to warn people in love. Eternity is a very long time. Hell is a ghastly place, with no way of escape. Now is the time to present ourselves at the boot camp of the Holy Spirit to be trained for eternity.