30 Mar 2014
I invite you to join me in turning to the gospel of Luke, chapter 23. Luke chapter 23 is our text today. I just want to again say I am glad that you are with us. I am glad that you are here today. I heard a story about a man by the name of Billy Graham – I am sure everybody has heard the name Billy Graham. He is a household name. One day, when he was a younger man, he was preaching the gospel in a particular church. He needed to mail a letter. So, Billy Graham asked a young boy, “Where's the Post Office?” The little boy pointed Billy Graham in the direction of the Post Office. Afterwards, Billy said, “I am preaching in a church tonight and I would like you to come. If you come to church tonight, I will tell you how to get to heaven.” The little boy looked up at Mr. Graham. He thought about it for a while then he said, “No. I am sorry. I don't think I'm going to come to church tonight.” So, Mr. Graham looked at the little boy and said, “Well, why don't you want to come? I'm going to tell you how to get to heaven.” The little boy looked at him [and] said, “Sir, if you don't know how to get to the Post Office, how in the world are you going to tell us how to get to heaven?” Well, I want you to know something: Billy Graham could tell him very well how to get to heaven.
The Anxiety of An Uncertain Future
One of the most important questions in life - in fact, it is a question that everybody will eventually ask – is: “How do I get to heaven?” Yet today, people are so preoccupied by life – we are so busy with the things that we do e.g. preoccupied by raising the family, falling in love, doing the things that we do - that very few people give a thought [about] heaven, and how to get there. Yet [this] is, without a doubt, one of the most important things in life: [it] is that we would know how to get to heaven. Every once in a while, something happens that causes us to ask [that] question e.g., such as a tragedy like [the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines] MH370. Or maybe the typhoon that hit the Philippines several months ago that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Sometimes it is a funeral that takes the life of a family member, or a friend, a movie star, or music star. Maybe it is a health issue, such as a heart attack. Or maybe you hear those dreaded words “Cancer.” Or maybe it is just a birthday. One day you wake up and realize, “Wow, time has flown by.” Or maybe you get up and you look in the mirror, and you are just flat-out shocked [by] what you see. Has that ever happened to you? “What's happened to me?” I remember one day I got up and realized, “Well, where has the time gone? Where did this gray hair come from?” By the way, you might think it is blonde. But no. So, things in life come and they force us to ask the question, “What is next? Where will I spend eternity? What is going to happen when I die? How can I get to heaven?” These are good questions because everybody believes that everybody will live somewhere, forever.
What Happens When We Die?
Deep down in our heart, everybody understands that we will live somewhere, forever. There is a sense and a part of man that every man is eternal. In fact, I read a survey that said that nearly all people believe in some form of the afterlife. It went on to say that 90% of those people interviewed believed in some form of heaven. Yet, when these people were asked, “How do you get to heaven?” Amazingly, 54% of those said that if a person does enough good things in life, they will secure a spot in heaven. In fact, do you know that every single world religion today believes that good people go to heaven, and bad people do not? In fact, the logic of the day is this: “There is a good God who lives in a good place. That place is reserved for good people.” In fact, maybe that is what you believe today. Maybe you believe how you live your life on earth will determine where you spend eternity. Most people on planet Earth believe that. They believe there is a good God in heaven, He lives in a good place and it is simply reserved for good people. Although most people believe that good people go to heaven and bad people do not, do you realize that most people are not sure [if] they are good enough to get to heaven?
How Much Good Do I Have to Do for God?
Maybe that is where you find yourself today. Maybe you believe that good people get to heaven. [You believe] that how you live your life on earth will determine where you spend eternity. Yet deep down in your heart, you are not certain. Maybe today you have been faithful to your religious system. Maybe you have been attending church on a regular basis. Maybe you have attended some type of religious class. Maybe you have just been a good person. You have been a good parent, a good spouse. Maybe you have served your community. Maybe you have never have broken a law of the land - not even the speed limit - although I don't believe that's true. Maybe you have been a good person and you have been thinking, “Good people get to heaven.” But deep down on the inside - down in your heart – you are not certain that you are going to make it [into heaven]. If that is where you find yourself, here is what I want you to know: You are not alone. Most people are not sure that being good is “good enough” to get to heaven. Although most of us believe that [good people get into heaven], very few people are absolutely certain that they have been “good enough” to get to heaven.
The True Story of An Outlaw and Outlier in Society
In our passage today, we meet a man. I think this will kind of shock you a little bit. We mean: A bad man who lived a bad life. Amazingly, this bad man who lived a bad life, made it to heaven. I want you to look at his story today. His story is found in Luke chapter 23. We are going to pick it up here in verse 39 (Matthew 23:39). Remember, following the false arrest in the mock trial of Jesus Christ, Jesus is severely beaten. Then He was given a 300-pound [wooden] beam, which would be the instrument of His own execution. He was [ordered] to drag it up a [street] called the Via Dolorosa to a place called Calvary [Golgotha]. There Jesus Christ would be crucified. Yet, as Jesus was dragging that cross, he was fatigued due to an extreme loss of blood. So, the Roman soldiers conscripted a spectator by the name of Simon [of Cyrene] to help Him carry the cross. So, Simon helped Jesus lift that cross to Calvary. There, this mass of mutilated human flesh would be nailed to this wooden beam, and Jesus Christ would be crucified. There, for the next three days, He would be hung for three days in the hot sun, with no food and no water, and [one] would eventually succumb to death. As Jesus was dying upon that cross, Luke, amazingly here in Luke chapter 23, records a conversation between Jesus and two dying thieves.
Before we look at this conversation, let me just remind you about [the] crucifixion. A crucifixion was without a doubt, the most shameful and painful form of death. In the Lord's day, a person would be stripped naked and bare. They would be beaten to a point where they [became] a mass [of] mutilated human flesh. They would be nailed to wooden beam. There, they would hang for three days without food or water. (That's what happened to Jesus). Eventually they would succumb to death. So, as Jesus was on this cross dying for crimes that He did not commit, a conversation took place between Jesus and these two dying thieves. Let us pick up the conversation. One of the criminals, one of thieves who was dying upon that cross, began to hurl insults at Jesus. He said, “Are you the Christ? Then save Yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him, he says, “Don't you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man (referring to Jesus Christ) He has done nothing wrong.”
Now, keep in mind that these two thieves that were dying on either side of Jesus Christ, these were not common criminals. These were the worst of the worst. These were the lowest of the low. These were the kinds of men that would break into a house and not only steal the goods, but they would rape and kill in the process. These two men were dying for their own crimes against society. They were dying for their own sin. In fact, they were guilty. They were getting justly what they deserved. As one of these thieves was mocking Jesus, the other one reminded him that he was getting his due result. Notice it says in verse 41, he said, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deed deserves, but this Man - referring to Jesus - has done nothing wrong.” In other words, this criminal was telling the other criminal, he says, “Listen, if you were to stack all our good deeds next to our bad deeds, you would not find one single good deed anywhere.” In other words, he was reminding the other criminal who was mocking Jesus, “Hey, listen! You are a bad man like me and you have done a bad thing.” Here was a man who had done bad things. These were the worst of the worst. These were the lowest of the low.
Now with [all these wicked sins committed by the thieves] in mind, one of these two thieves asked Jesus an incredible question. He made of Jesus an unthinkable request. Listen to what he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Now, isn't that an amazing thing? Here was this man who had a lifetime of thievery, probably rape and murder - a man who was dying for his own crimes – [who] looks to Jesus and says, “Jesus, will You remember me when You come into Your kingdom?” Remember, this is a man who was at the end of his miserable life. He was a man who had never again have an opportunity to do anything good. He was a man who had never have an opportunity to do good things to offset his bad things. I mean, he was at the end of his rope. And so here's this bad man who had lived a bad life, looked to Jesus and asked this unthinkable [statement]: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” In other words: “Jesus, will You take me to heaven when You die?” How do you think Jesus answered this man? Well, if Jesus [had] agreed with the verbiage of the day - if Jesus agreed with the thought that ‘good people get to heaven and bad people don't’ - Jesus would have looked at this man with absolute absurdity, laughed in his face and said, “Are you kidding me? You are a bad man. Remember, good people get to heaven. You don't qualify. You are a bad man.” If [Christ had] believed the verbiage of the day - if he believed that ‘there's a good God who lives in a good place reserved for good people’ - Jesus would have said to this man, “Not a chance. You are a bad man. You are not getting there!”
In fact, what would you have said to this man? If he had asked you the same question, especially if this man had robbed your house, raped your sister, and killed your brother? What would you have said to him? “I am not sharing heaven with you, buddy. You are a bad man. Heaven is reserved for good people and not bad people like you.” But what did Jesus say to this man? Are you ready for this? Put on your seatbelts. Are you ready? Put it on and tighten up. Listen to what Jesus said. He said, “I tell you the truth. [In other words, I am not lying.] Today. You. Yes, you - bad man who has lived a bad life - will be with Me in Paradise.” Wow. Do you catch what He is saying? Jesus is saying to us, “I don't agree with the verbiage of the day that ‘good people get to heaven and bad people don’t.’ I don't agree with the logic of the day that ‘there's a good God who lives in a good place reserved for good people.’ I don't agree with the thought that how you live your life on earth will determine where you spend eternity.” [Because] He said to this bad man who was dying for his own crimes against society - a man who [would] never again have an opportunity to do anything good - He said, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”
How Do We Define What “Good” Is?
Wow. That is not what we would say, right? (That is what He said.) Because one of the problems [of] saying ‘good people get to heaven [and] bad people don't’ [is that] very few people can agree on what is “good.” Are you with me? You got to think just for about five minutes. Think with me, then you can just rest and go with the flow. But think with me for a moment. One of the reasons it is not right to say ‘good people go to heaven’ - not only because of what Jesus said (that a violent criminal would be with Him in Paradise that day), but [also] because we have a hard time agreeing on what is actually “good”.
For example, some people say drinking one to three cups of coffee every day is good. All that like to drink one to three cups of coffee every day, raise your hand! I will raise both hands! Thank you! Thank you for your honesty. We can meet for coffee afterwards - for those of you who like to drink coffee every day. There are some in this audience that would think, “No. Drinking one or two cups of coffee every single day is not good.” There are some [who] would say eating chocolate is good. They would bring out all these reports e.g. [Chocolates have] one of the best antioxidants in the world today. Then [there are] others [who] would say, “No. Eating chocolate is not good.” Listen. There are some cultures who believe that being plump is a good thing because it's a sign of wealth and prosperity. But there are other cultures who say that being plump is not “good.” So, the question is: Who's right? Who's wrong? Who defines what is “good”? It is hard to find two people in two cultures and two religions who would agree on what is “good.” So, to say, ‘good people go to heaven, bad people don't’ [is problematic]. Listen, we cannot even come up with a definition of what is “good.”
Here is something just to think about. This is true. You read it in your papers every single day. There is a group of religious zealots today [who] would say to you that blowing up your neighbor is “good,” and [that doing so] secures a place in paradise. Do you know what I am talking about? There is another group of people who would say loving your neighbor is “good” and that secures a place in paradise. One group of religious elite says, “No, blow up your neighbor. That is ‘good’.” Another group says, “No, love your neighbor. That is ‘good’.” Question. Who is right? Who is wrong? When you come back and say [in error], “There is a good God who lives in a good place reserved for good people like you. How you live your life on Earth determines where you spend eternity. Good people go to heaven. Bad people do not.”
We cannot say that. Why? Because people cannot even agree on what is “good.” We do not even have a standard definition is what is “good” in order to get to heaven. In fact, I will take it a step farther. Even if a standard of “good” is set [in] view, people cannot tell you what that standard is. See, even if we can define what is “good” in regards to salvation, we cannot even tell you what that standard is e.g. How much “good” do I need to do in order to get there? What is the standard?
Keeping the 10 Commandments 24/7?
In fact, I read a survey this week that said that 95% of all people believe that the 10 commandments are God's moral standards for man. In other words, 95% of those interviewed said that the 10 commandments are God's standard of good. If you maintain the 10 commandments, you can secure your place in heaven. Imagine that. [Ironically] then, these 95% who [had been] interviewed were asked to name the 10 commandments. 5% could only name three. Hello? You are in trouble. Are you with me? Are you following? You see, we cannot even define “good,” [let alone] set a standard. And those who do set a standard do not even know what [exactly the standard entails].
Wow, all I am saying is the world is in trouble. Even if we knew what the standard was – [can] you live up to the standard? Even if you know what the standard is, [can] you live up to that standard? Listen, we cannot even keep our own New Year's resolutions for a week or two. True! Much less [maintain] a moral standard of conduct for a lifetime. Can I take it one step farther? (Then you do not have to think anymore. You can just flow.) Even if we knew what the standard was, even if we could live up to that standard, how do you know if you have done enough [to satisfy that standard perfectly]? How do you know if you have been good enough to get to heaven? What percentage of your deeds need to be good in order for you to get to heaven?
Even if we can define what “good” is and we can set the standard, “how good” do we have to be in order to get [to heaven]? How much of our life has to be good in order to secure a place in heaven?
Imagine this. Let us say, for example, God is a merciful God and He requires [just] 10% of your deeds to be “good” in order for you to get to heaven. Now, that is pretty easy. Just 10% of your deeds. You know what we would do? We would divide a year up into months, and months into weeks, and weeks into days, and days into hours, and hours into seconds. [Then] we would take a percentage of our life [and determine] this much of every single day has to be “good” [so] that I can secure a place in heaven.
But do you realize even with that small standard of 10% - do you realize that you can miss out on heaven by [just] one lousy act of kindness? But what if God is not so merciful? What if He demands 90% of your deeds to be “good” in order for you to get to heaven? Whoa. Are we in trouble or what? 90%! We would have to ask ourselves: Do I have enough time to do enough good works to offset all of my bad works [committed when I was younger]? In other words, you can miss out on heaven simply because you do not have enough time.
If good people go to heaven and bad people do not, then I have a question for God: “God, why haven't You made [that] standard clear?” If there is a good God who lives in a good place reserved for good people, then God, why haven't You come down [to] every generation and made it clear and told us exactly and clearly what [Your] standard is? The reason is because nobody - the reason God has not set a standard and made it clear - is because nobody reaches heaven by being “good.”
We do not get to heaven on our own merit. We get to heaven on the merits of God's Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, I like what Ecclesiastes 7: 20 says: Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is good/right and does not sin. Now, this does not mean that there are no good people. But it simply means that there is nobody that is “good” enough in order to get to heaven. Nobody reaches heaven by being “good.” So, that brings up a question. If nobody gets to heaven by being good, then how do we get to heaven? Well, here is what the Bible says.
“Good” People Do Not Go to Heaven – Forgiven People Do
According to the Bible, it is not “good” people that get to heaven, but it is forgiven people [who get to heaven]. The reason Jesus Christ could say to this dying thief upon that cross, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise,” is because Jesus Christ - while on that cross - was dying for our sins so [that] He might forgive us of our sins. Did you catch that? The reason Jesus had the right to say [this Good News of heaven for sinners, telling] this dying thief (this bad man who had lived a bad life, who had no opportunity to do anything good ever again), the reason Jesus could say [this Good News] to that [bad] man is because on that cross, He was dying for our sins. That we might be forgiven of our sins.
Here is a universal principle of life. Sin must be paid for [e.g. pay-back / retribution / avenged]. Sin must be paid for. We know that is true. When somebody does you wrong, you [justly] want to be paid back for the [offence], isn't that right? Someone steals your car, you know, catch the thief. You want your car back, right? That sin [or] crime must be paid for. Our prisons are filled today with people who are paying for their sins against society. This dying thief was paying for his own crimes, and he would eventually pay with his own life. God requires [our] payment for [our] sin [or crimes committed against His perfect and holy standards]. But that's why Jesus Christ came. That is exactly why Jesus Christ died: He died to forgive [us] of [our] sin - to pay [God] for your sin [against Him], He died, that you might have ever-lasting life. In fact, that's why Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated His love for you, in that while you were [still] sinners, Jesus Christ died for you.”
He died to forgive you of your sin [against God]. He died to pay for your sin [debt to God], that He might have the privilege of forgiving you of your sin [crimes against God].
Maybe you know the name John D. Rockefeller. He was in his day, without a doubt, the richest man alive. If you were to just to change things into our modern economy, he probably is the richest man who has ever lived. He built the Great Standard Oil Empire some years back. He was a hard man to work for. He was a taskmaster. He demanded unbelievable performance from his employees. One day one of his employees lost $2 million. Now, it was a lot of money about 150 years ago. In fact, it is still a lot of money today. But it was enormous amount then. Everybody was fearful of what Mr. Rockefeller was going to do. So, he brought in one of his executives into [his] office and he said to this executive, “Did you hear about the mistake our employee made today? He lost us $2 million.” The executive said, “Yes, I have heard about that.” Mr. Rockefeller said, “You know, I was looking back in his past record and I discovered that he [had] made more money for us in the past than he lost for us today. His good deeds outweigh his bad deeds, I think we ought to forgive him. What do you think?”
But friends, I want you to know, unlike John D. Rockefeller, our forgiveness is not based upon our performance. Our forgiveness is not based upon what we do for God. You see, our forgiveness is not based upon anything but God's wonderful, amazing grace [unmerited kindness] for you. God's forgiveness [of our crimes against Him] is not based upon our merit, but on the merit of His Son. That's why Jesus went to the cross, He went there to do for you and for me what we cannot do for ourselves. He went to die [pay] for your sin [crimes against God] so you can be forgiven of your sin. In fact, do you realize that if you can get to heaven in [any] other way than Jesus Christ, then why did Jesus Christ come? If you did get to heaven in another way apart from Jesus, [then] why did Jesus have to die upon the cross?
The fact is, there is no other way. That is exactly why Jesus Christ [had to come]. He came to do for you and me what we cannot do for ourselves. He came to die for [our] sin, that he might forgive [us] of [our] sin. But long after Jesus [had] said to this thief on the cross, “Today, you'll be with Me in paradise,” Jesus uttered His very last words. Those words are found in John 19:30. Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven, and He cried out, “It is finished. (tetelestai / Greek for ‘paid in full’)” The word “finished” means the debt has been paid in full. In His day, it was a term that merchants used. If you went into a shop and you bought something on credit when you went back to settle your debt, [the merchants] would take your receipt and they would stamp upon that receipt the word “finished” i.e. “Your debt to me has been paid in full.”
That is exactly what Jesus was saying, as He died upon the cross. As He uttered His last words, He was simply saying the payment for [our] sin has been made in full. Why would He say that? Because Jesus knows that every unbelieving sinner, every person born on planet Earth, has a debt to God - a debt that he / she cannot pay. [We] have a bill [unpaid legal obligations that God justly requires of all mankind].
In fact, that is where the Bible says that we have all sinned, i.e. we have [fallen] short of the glory of God. Everybody is born in this world as a sinner and thus separated from God. You know, that is why you feel the way you do today. You can own the world in your hand. You can have a position of power. You can be prosperous. And yet, friends, you can be absolutely empty on the inside. You know why? Because you are not made to be satisfied by the things of this life. You are made to be satisfied by God. But your sin [record of unfulfilled legal obligations towards God] has separated you from God [the True Source of Life]. Thus, no matter what you pour into your life, there remains an emptiness in your heart. But Jesus came to remove that barrier of sin, that you might come into a relationship with God, that yes, you might have your sins forgiven, and you might have everlasting life, that you might have an abundant life right now.
The Way to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
Friends, we are all sinners. As a result, we're separated from God. And the Bible [in Romans 6:23] goes on to say, “The wages of our sin is death.” [The payback for our sins is] eternal death, and eternal separation from God in a place, the Bible calls “hell”. And friends, God loves us so much, He wants nobody to die and pay for his own sin. So, God in His love for you sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to do for you what you cannot do for yourself: He came to pay for your sin so that you do not have to [pay for your own sin from your own finite resources]. The price [payback] that Jesus Christ paid for our sin, the Bible says, was the price of His own life - the shedding of His own blood. The Scripture says, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, it can cleanse us from all of our sin. You see, friends, that's why Jesus Christ came. He came to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
Yet there are people today, when you talk about salvation, they say salvation is on the “installment plan”. [To them] when Jesus died upon that cross, He was given [merely as] the down payment for our sin, and [then] it is up to us to do all our good works to keep up the payments. You know what I'm talking about? When you buy a car, you make the down payment, you keep up the payments, and eventually you get to own the car. Some people look at salvation [in error] just like that: Jesus died for my sins, yes, but not for all my sins, so by my good works, I need to keep up with the payments. Hopefully, when I get up [to Heaven] my good works will outweigh my bad works.
We forget that it is the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses us - not from some of our sins, not just from our past sin, from not just our present sin, but, yes, even our future sins. He said on that cross, “It is finished.” He meant what He said regarding the payment for our sin. [The payment] is without a doubt, complete. In fact, I like what the Scripture says in Titus 3:5, “It is not by works of righteousness that you have done, but it is according to God's mercy that He saves us.” You see, friends, we are not saved by what we do or do not do But [we are saved from God’s wrath by] accepting what Jesus Christ has done for [us]. And what has He done? He died for your sin that he might forgive you of your sin.
A Little Story on Grace
Let me tell you a story. One day a man died and he went to heaven. He met the angel Gabriel at the gates of heaven. Gabriel said, “This is how heaven works. You need 100 points to get in. If you get 100 points, I will open the gates then you can come in. You tell me all the good things that you have done in life, and I'll assign a point to those good deeds. You get 100 you get in.” The man said “OK. Sounds good to me. Here is the first thing that I have done. I have been married 50 years. I have been a very faithful husband. I have never cheated on my wife. Not even once. Not even in my mind.” Gabriel says, “Wow, I didn't know there was such a man. I wish more men were like you. I'll give you 3 points.” The man was shocked, “3 points for a life of faithfulness with my wife?” Gabriel says, “I'm sorry. Only 3 points.” The man continues, “Okay. I've been faithful to church. I came every Sunday. I gave money to the church for the expansion of God's kingdom. I served the Lord in a particular area faithfully all my life.” Gabriel says, “Wow, I wish there were more people like you. I'll give you 1 point.” The man was shocked. 1 point for a lifetime of service! Gabriel says, “I'm sorry, only 1 point.” So, the man, with a bit of tears on his face, was thinking, “I'm not going get there now.” He continues, “Okay. I'll tell you something else. I had a home in the city. I used to bring in homeless people. Every holiday I would I would serve free meals to anybody who wanted to come.” Gabriel again is shocked, “Just wow! That is really good! I will give you 2 points.” The man is horrified, “Gabriel! At this rate, the only way I am going to get to heaven is by God's grace.” Gabriel says, “Did you say, ‘God's grace’?” “Yes, the only way I am going to get to Heaven is by God's grace.” And Gabriel replies, “If it is by God's grace, then come on in. Because there is only one Way anybody gets to heaven. That is by the grace of God.”
Grace – the Kindness We Do Not Deserve
In fact, that is why Paul the Apostle said to us here in this great verse, in Romans 8:9, “For by grace, have you been saved.” Grace is God's unmerited, unearned, and unworked for favour. It is by God's unearned favour that you have been saved. As to faith, it is a choice to believe on what He has done for you. [Even “faith” is] not of yourselves; it is a gift of God. It is not by your own energy; it is not of works lest you come [presumptuously] to God and say, “God, You need to let me in [to Your Home]. Look. How good [faithful] have I have been. Look what I have done for You.” God says, “It's not based upon what you have done for Me, but on what I have done for you.” It is by grace. Jesus came. He died upon that cross, to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
Friends, if you have been trying to work your way to heaven, if you have been under that [error]: “Good people get to heaven and the bad people don't,” there [will be] within your heart a sense of uncertainty. It is because you know - deep down on the inside - you could never get there on your own merit. But you [can] get [to heaven] on the merit of Another. That One is Jesus who came to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Since Jesus died for your sins and offers you the forgiveness of your sin, all you need to do is come to Him and repent of your sin. And if [you] turn to Jesus Christ, and trust Him as your Savior and as your Lord, [if] that's a decision that you make, [then] friends [please know] that is an important decision. Because every one of us one day will stand before God. It does not matter [whom] you are. It does not matter what you believe. Does not matter. Your background. Your nationality. No matter [whom] you are, every one of us one day will stand before God.
What We Say Before God the Judge
On that day, if God were to say to you, “Why should I let you into heaven?” What would you say? In fact, what could you say?
Some people would look to God and say, “God, God! You need to let me in because I have been a good person.”
God would get back to His word and say, “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that does what is good. No, not one. [Ecclesiastes 7:20]”
You might say, “But God, I've done a lifetime of good works [for You].”
God would quote His word, “It is not by the works of righteousness that you have done, but it is by God's mercy that you are saved. [Titus 3:5]”
[Perhaps you will reason with Him], “I have obeyed the whole law. I have obeyed the 10 commandments.”
God would say, “He who keeps the whole law and yet breaks it at one point is guilty of breaking the whole law. [James 2:10]”
You see, friends, we do not get to heaven based upon what we do, but accepting what God in Jesus Christ has done for us. Good people do not go to heaven and bad people do not go to hell.
Not What We Do but What We Have Done with Knowing Christ as Saviour
It is not what you do or do not do. It is what you have done with the person of Jesus Christ. What have you done with Him? Have you repented of your sin and have you turned to Him in faith? Have you trusted Him as your Savior and as your Lord? There is only one Way to heaven, and that Way is Jesus. [John 14:6] Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and Life. Nobody comes to the Father except by Me.”
The reason Jesus could make such a bold statement is because only Jesus Christ died upon the cross. Only Jesus Christ rose again on the third day. Only Jesus Christ dares to make such a promise. He can make it because He is today living and He is alive. He stands ready to wash away our sin and to give us everlasting life; to give [ever-lasting life] to anybody. Who [ then will] call upon His name? Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. [Romans 10:13] Friends, that includes you. It does not matter [whom] you are. It does not matter how bad you are. It does not matter your religious belief today. But if you would [only] repent of your sin. Maybe you have been under that [erroneous] thought that good people go to heaven, and you have been trying to be “good.” But there is something in your heart that says, “I am not sure I am going make it.” God wants you to repent of your [wrongful] thinking that “I get to heaven by what I do.” No. It is by accepting what Jesus Christ has done, and then turn in faith and to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and as your Lord.
Maybe you are here this morning and you are not certain that your sins are forgiven. You are not confident that you are on your way to heaven. Then I ask that we settle this matter with God today. We have to come to Jesus in faith and trust Him to be your Savior and to be your Lord.
Friends, Jesus and His wonderful salvation is but a single step of faith away. I believe he's here knocking upon the door of some of your hearts. There is a tug. There is a pull. There is an internal tranquility. [Or] there is anxiety. And God is knocking up at the door of your heart. He is asking you to open that door and in faith, reach out and invite Jesus Christ in and let Him do what He alone can do: wash away your sin and give you everlasting life
The Bible says of Jesus, “I have come that you might have life and have life more abundantly. [John 10:10]” Abundant life, that eternal life is available to you today.
If you are here, and you're not certain that your sins are forgiven; you're not confident that you are on your way to heaven; you've been trying [but] deep on the inside, you know, it's not working. Jesus came to [save] you. You cannot [save] yourself. So, if you are here this morning, and you're not saved, not sure, not certain, I invite you to make a choice: to trust Jesus Christ, to be your Savior, and let Him [save] you [from your sins and God’s righteous wrath upon all our wrongful acts and attitude].
A Prayer to Call on Jesus to be Saved
Would you join me in prayer? With our heads bowed and our eyes closed just for a moment,
Our Heavenly Father, we just want to say thank You for Jesus. Jesus, we want to say thank You, for Your love for us: in that while we were [still] sinners You died for us. We are thankful today that You are not on that cross, nor are You in that tomb. But today, You are sitting at the right hand on the throne on high, making intercession [praying fervently] for us. You stand today ready to save all who will call upon Your Name. I pray this morning for anybody that is here [who] is not certain that their sins are forgiven, not confident that they're on their way to heaven. Lord, maybe for some today, they [think] that they get to heaven by what they do. Maybe today, You've showed them [gaining entry into God’s heaven is] not [achieved] by what they do. But it is by accepting what You have done for them. I pray that today would be the day of salvation for them. With every head bowed and your eyes closed - nobody looking about - maybe God has spoken to your heart today; maybe you know [of] your need to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. Because you are not saved, your sins are not forgiven. And you are not confident that you are on your way to heaven. God has spoken to your heart today. You know you need to turn from your sin and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. And if that is the desire of your heart today, I want to help you to make that simple decision. Here is what I want us to do. With every head bowed and every eye closed, all I want you to do is simply lift up your hand, when I ask you to and say, “Would you please pray for me? I am not saved. I am not sure. I am not certain. But I believe that Jesus died for my sins. And I want to repent of my sin and I want to trust Him today to be my Savior, and to be my Lord.”
So, if you have raised your hand today, and this is a decision that you need to make, then I want you to pray this very simple prayer of faith with me right now. Join me in saying:
Jesus, I know that I am a sinner.
I want You to forgive me of my sin. I invite You into my life to be my Savior, and to be my Lord. Jesus, I'm trusting You and You alone to do for me what I cannot do for myself.
Jesus save me! And enable me to live for You that You would be the Lord of my life.
Lord, I want to pray for every person in this audience today that have prayed that simple prayer of faith -
those who have prayed it honestly with honesty and with sincerity - well, I pray that You would give to them the witness of the Holy Spirit. Let them know that yes, their sins are forgiven and yes, they are on their way to heaven. Lord, I pray to enable them to grow, to come to know You in a life-changing life-transforming way. Take Your word. Speak to the hearts of these, your people. We ask it in Jesus name. Amen!
More Episodes from Pastor Mike Redick:
23 Jul 2023
II Samuel 11-12 Satisfied?
13 Aug 2017
13 Nov 2016
06 Nov 2016
19 Jun 2016
25 Dec 2015
21 Jun 2015
20 Jun 2015
Episodes from other sermons:
26 Nov 2023
23 Jul 2023
18 Jun 2023
28 May 2023
07 Apr 2023
12 Mar 2023
25 Dec 2022
20 Dec 2022