Living with Assurance
Over the next 4 or so days I’d like to share some of a lesson I taught one Sunday from the Lectionary Series my church uses.
The author writes, “There are many people inside and outside churches who believe they will be going to heaven, but who will not be. This may seem like a harsh statement, but Jesus was clear that not everyone who claimed to know Him was really His follower. He says in Matthew 7 “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
The will of God being – repenting of our sins and believing in His Son, Jesus Christ.
This lesson is meant to clarify how a person can be certain he or she is a follower of Christ.
Many people compare themselves to others: “I’m no where near as bad as Adolph Hitler” “I don’t measure up to Mother Teresa.”
We tend to view our morality by comparison. We find the worst examples we can think of, measuring ourselves against him or her, and patting ourselves on the back for how good we measure up. When we pick out who we want to compare ourselves to for whatever reason, we can usually make ourselves look good – or at least ok.
Why do we spend so much time comparing ourselves to others? (our families, our moral condition, our finances, our religious devotion?)
The author of this study says many people are planning on gaining entrance into heaven because they are “pretty decent” people. The real question is, decent compared to whom? The standard of the holiness of God is the only one against which we will be measured and we already know we don’t measure up to that. The Bible says, “We all fall short.” But, somehow we go on playing the comparison game and act like we think God will grade on a curve and because there are plenty of people worse then us we’ll pass the test.
It’s in Jesus’ life that we see the principles of God’s law - love of God and man – perfectly exemplified. Benevolence and unselfish love was the life of His soul. It is as we behold HIM, as the light from our Savior falls on US, that we see the sinfulness in our own hearts.
People watch how Christians act. And because of this comparison thing we all seem to have going on – they love it when we are not acting like Christ. Another reason we should really work at that!
Read Luke 16:19 – 31
1. What do we learn about heaven in this passage?
2. What do we learn about hell?
You may have heard these 2 statements before (or at least similar):
Hell is the invention of angry and closed-minded preachers. A loving God would never send anyone to hell.
Heaven is a state of mind. We achieve it in this life when we are kind and loving with each other.
Well, first of all, God does not send anyone to hell. They choose to go there when they reject Him. And the Bible is the only authoritative truth source that says something conclusive about the life hereafter. It says that there are two places people will spend eternity: a real heaven, which has been created for people to live in God’s presence forever and ever, and a real hell, which has been created for people to spend eternity apart from God in condemnation and punishment. We are all going to be in one of those two places after this life on earth ends.
If you know someone who is not sure where they will spend eternity, it’s time to face this important issue. The problem with today’s society is that everyone lives for the moment. Many people lead their lives as if they will never die. But, we all face eternity and we need to face reality.
The good news is – where we go really is our choice. So how do we get the good choice!
There’s a joke I heard once about a man getting to the Pearly Gates and Peter told him he needed 10,000 points to get into heaven. The man said, “Well, I taught Sunday school for 20 years.” Peter said, “That’s one point” (!)
The man said, “Well…I tithed” Peter said, “OK, you’re up to 5 points.”
The man started to sweat. “I helped in the soup kitchen every month for most of my adult life.” Peter said “One more point”
The man said, “I don’t get this – I put my faith in Jesus when I was a teen-ager!”
Peter said, “Ok, there’s your other 9993 points – come right in.”