How to Get to Heaven
You may have heard the phrase "the gospel," but no one has ever really explained to you what that means. Perhaps a well meaning Christian has told you "just believe in Jesus" or "just have faith"; but that doesn't seem to make much sense either. Believe in Jesus for what?
Well, allow me (Pastor James) to help make sense of all this. "Gospel" simply means good news. However, good news only makes sense when we know what the bad news is first. Imagine a doctor came to you with a pill and said "take this and you will be fine." You would be confused because you didn't know you were sick; you may even turn down the medication. However, if the doctor showed you your ex-rays and pointed out a deadly illness you would probably say "that is very bad news." Now if the doctor hands you a pill and says "take this and you will be fine"; you would not reject it, but would receive it as truly good news.
When it comes to the "gospel" and the Bible we must also start with the bad news. Let's begin.... You are a sinner, just like everyone else on Earth. The "ex-ray" God has provided is the Ten Commandments and they easily points out our sins. Have you ever told a lie? [yes] Have you ever stolen anything that did not belong to you? [probably yes] Have you ever committed adultery? [perhaps yes or no]... Wait a minute, Jesus said "if we so much as look with lust we've already committed adultery in our hearts." So have you committed adultery? [yes]. If we are honest with ourselves, the ex-ray of the ten commandments reveals we are in trouble, we are sinners.
If you were to die today and God pointed to the ten commandments and asked, "Which word applies best to you? Guilty or innocent?" If you were honest, you'd have to tell God, "guilty." Perhaps you think you are not really that bad, there are others far worse, and you may be right. The problem is God does not compare you to others, He compares you to Himself. That changes the game considerably. The reality is, we really are not as good as we think we are. God said in the Bible, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10) Did you notice the phrase "guilty of all"? This is not good news!
More bad news. Based on your guilt of failing to keep the commandments; would you deserve punishment or reward; also-known-as heaven or hell? Be honest, you are standing before God in this story. You would deserve hell. Now that you know the bad news, the good news will make more sense, and be more attractive.
The good news, or the "gospel", is that Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, lived a sinless life on your behalf. He did what you and I could not do for ourselves. Not only did Jesus live a sinless life, but He paid for our sins, the ones we committed, by dying on the cross. Why would dying on a cross pay for our sins? The simple answer is that is how God set it up, He made the rules. We broke the rules and he paid our fine, that is a pretty good deal. We don't have to be punished, because Jesus was punished for us. That is GOOD NEWS. How do we get to heaven? First, recognize you are in trouble. You have sinned and deserve punishment. Once that is done the Bible tells us "...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) Confess Jesus as your Lord if you want to go to heaven.
Does this mean that if I just believe in Jesus I'll be saved, and then I can continue to live a life of sin? Well, if you are actually saved a miracle has taken place. You have been "born-again" and God's Spirit will live inside you. Things you used to look at with pleasure will start to bother you and you will want to stop, if you have not already. To be born-again means you are something different than before you called on Jesus to save you. This process is called sanctification... but that is another story. If you have not already, confess Jesus as your Lord and you will be saved. He accepts simple sincere prayers, don't wait, do it NOW!!!
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