A man once asked me the question of all questions, “If you were to die today where would you go?” I didn’t have a smart answer. I was curious, but though to myself, “Could anybody really know the answer to that question?”
How do I get to heaven? Many have tried to answer this question in many different ways:
- You got to do a bunch of good deeds [hope to make the Cosmic curve for the class].
- Do as you please [aka: heaven on earth]. This is the only life you got.
- God is a God of love and wouldn’t send anybody to hell.
- You got to have faith.
- You got to follow the teachings of Buddha, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or Jesus.
Yet these many ways do not answer the question. They just lead to more questions: How good is good enough? If this is heaven on earth, why is there so much suffering, sin and temptation? Why wouldn’t a loving God judge sin? Faith in what? How do we know which guy? What is your plan get to heaven?
PLAN A: By Being Sinlessly Perfect
If our eternity rested on our perfect performance we would all be doomed. We have all committed errors and made foul plays. This is called sin. You are not perfect. You cannot bat 1.000. Sorry to burst your bubble but you are not good enough [Rom.3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory].
God is perfect. Our sin causes us to miss the mark of His glorious perfection.
The problem is that you and I are born sinners. You are born needy. You cry for attention. Ask any baby who desires the attention. You did not have to take sin lessons. We are educated as selfish little sinsner straight from the womb. And I have been sinning habitually ever since.
When people say that they are a “good person” or share their list of “good deeds” [i.e. help the poor, generosity] or compare themselves with “bad people” [i.e. Hitler or Bin Laden]…they are just sugar coating the reality of their sinfulness [Prov.14:12 “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.”]. PLAN A: I CANNOT CHECK
PLAN B: By Paying the Price for our Sin
Trying to be a good boy or girl only ends in disappointment and frustration because we can never quite match up. It ends in death [Rom.6:23 “For the wages of our sin is death…”]. This is more than physical death, but also eternal separation from God. Notice this spectrum of goodness [Evil being murders, rapists, and abusers / God being absolute perfection]:
First on the spectrum is Mother Teresa [MT]. She is known for her compassion for orphans in Calcutta. Under “Christian” in the dictionary would be her picture. Some would say she is the best of all Christians, yet in her biographies she admits struggling with many sins. Second, Billy Graham [BG], the long known evangelist who was used by God to bring many into God’s kingdom. He preached to more people than anybody in history. Yet he publicly admits his fall into sin. Then there is me [JT]. I cant even be in the same category with MT & BG. Just ask my mom or wife and they will let you know what kind of sin I am!! Where would you put your initials?
Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and I are in serious trouble. We cannot match up to God’s standard. We fall way short. This applies not only us, but you too. It doesn’t matter if your parents are Christians, if your grandma prays, if you go to Africa to help AIDS children, if you go to church every time the doors are open, you will still fall short.
There is a giant chasm that separates you and me from God [cf. Bridge to Life]. It is like trying to throw a stone from where you are to the North Pole. Some might throw farther than you, but we all still fall way short. Our sin creates a separation [Is.59:2 “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, He has turned away and will not listen anymore.”]. We cannot pay the debt load for our sin. It cost too much. PLAN B: I CANNOT CHECK
PLAN G: By Trusting in the One who did
Since Plans A & B fail what other option do we have? How about Plan G? Plan G = God’s Grace. Grace us unmerited favor or a gift from God that you do not deserve. I do not deserve God’s grace even on my best day. No one deserves it. This is why it is called grace [Rom.6:23b “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”].
What does God’s grace look like? Because of His love He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sin [all your junk, funk errors, strike outs and foul plays]. His grace can at a gruesome cost; execution on a cross. Jesus did the work of Plan A & B before He went to the cross. He did what we could not do. He did it for you. The work is done. The cross bridges the separation. It is a homerun game willing deal.
Religion = DO. Do this and don’t do that. It doesn’t work.
Relationship with Christ = DONE. It is finished on the cross. [Jn.19:30]
From the moment we receive God’s grace there are many things we receive: Forgiveness, Christ’s Righteousness, acceptance into His family, reconciliation, redemption, and so much more.
How do I get God’s grace?
Admit. Admit that you have fail with Plan A & B. That you do not measure up to God’s standard. That your sin separates you from Him. See yourself as God sees you. Recognize the chasm between you and him.
Believe. Believe that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sin. It is not about understanding everything. It is about trust.
Receive. Let Jesus come in. Open the lid of your heart and let Him come in. Let Him change you from the inside out.
PLAN G: I CAN CHECK, DONE