Heaven is a Gift

Contrary to popular opinion, going to heaven is not determined by how we live our lives. Instead, it is a gift offered freely to those who trust Christ alone to get them there. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

But it WOULDN’T be a gift if  you  had  to:

  • change your way of living;
  • feel sorry for your sins;
  • give Christ control of your life;
  • get baptized;
  • keep the commandments; or
  • put forth any other form of human effort,

because that would make heaven a reward. But the Bible says, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

A gift is something free to you because someone else has paid for it.

If someone invited you out for dinner as a gift, you wouldn’t expect to be handed the bill, would you?

What people fail to realize is that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do to be worthy of heaven. How can imperfect people enter a perfect place? We can not. And that is why God Himself came to this Earth so that He could take the punishment we deserve.

Think about it. IF we could have paid for our sins by doing such things as being baptized in water or keeping the commandments, then why would Christ have died?

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

IF SOMEONE BELIEVES IN CHRIST, BUT ALSO THINKS HE HAS TO BE GOOD IN ORDER TO GO TO HEAVEN, WILL HE MAKE IT?

NO  If you were drowning, and someone offered to pull you to shore, but you insisted on only letting him bring you half way in because you wanted to do your part, would you make it?

As long as a person thinks he has his part in getting himself to heaven he is putting confidence in what he is doing instead of what Christ did for him. He has as much chance of saving himself from Hell by his own efforts as a drowning man has of saving himself from drowning. The Lord did not die to be our Helper, but our Savior.

The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).

COULD A PERSON COMMIT SUICIDE AND STILL GO TO HEAVEN?

How many sins did Christ die for? Some or all sins? The Bible says that He died for all sins (Colossians 2:13). Wouldn’t that include suicide? Of course it would.

Also, if it were possible to lose our gift of going to heaven by committing suicide, would our eternal destiny rest upon what Jesus did for us or rather upon what we do? Of course, the answer would be that it would rest upon what we do. But the Bible teaches we do nothing to go to heaven. It says it is not of yourselves (Ephesians 2:8). That means nothing we have done, nothing we are doing, or nothing we are going to do has any bearing on where we spend eternity.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

DOESN’T THIS GIVE THE BELIEVER A LICENSE TO SIN?

Even though a person who would take his own life would suffer shame in the presence of God and suffer loss of rewards, there is no such thing as losing eternal life.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a child I never had a fear of being cast out of my family. But I did have a fear of incurring my parents’ displeasure. I learned at an early age there were consequences for misconduct. This same principle holds true in God’s family. The moment a person trusts Christ as his Savior he is born into the family of God. And just as surely as God rewards His children when they are good. He will discipline them when they are bad. The Bible says, “For the Lord disciplines him who He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).

God promises children who obey their parents a long, happy life, which means disobedience can result in a short, miserable life. Galatians 6:7, warns, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Or to put it in the common vernacular, “What goes around comes around.”

But along side those warnings are a multitude of promises to be claimed for those who obey the Lord. For instance, Psalms 37: 4, says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”. God is so generous that He not only promises earthly rewards such as peace of mind, answered prayers, and joy, but also eternal rewards.

DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE GOING TO BE PEOPLE IN HEAVEN WITH NO REWARDS?

Every person who has trusted Christ as his Savior is going to have to give an account before God for how he used his time here on earth. (Romans14:10-14).

Each believer is accountable for what he has done from the moment he placed his faith in Christ until the day he goes to heaven. The Bible likens the good works of the believer to gold, silver and precious stones and all that is bad or worthless to wood, hay or straw. God is going to have a fire come upon the believer’s works and all that was of no value will be consumed and only what remains will be rewarded.

This is described in First Corinthians 3: 11-15:

11. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw..
13. Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
14. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
15. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Verse 15 explains that those who go to heaven without rewards will be like a person who safely got out of a fire.

He will be safe in heaven, but he will have brought nothing with him. The only thing he will have to show for his life is a pile of ashes. As someone so aptly said,” Only one life will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

ISN’T SOMETHING MISSING?

If you have heard the expression “ask Jesus into your heart”, you may be wondering why it hasn’t been mentioned yet. The reason is because it came from a song, not the Bible. Jesus does come into your heart when you believe in Him, not when you ask.

When the Apostle Peter was presenting the Gospel in Acts 10:43, he said, “To Him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” The very next verse says that those hearing this message received the Holy Spirit. They didn’t make a public confession or ask Jesus into their hearts. They simply believed in Christ alone as their only hope of salvation.

It says, “While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (verse 44).

Many have used Revelation 3:20, where Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me” as proof an invitation is necessary. But the Lord isn’t addressing unbelievers; He is addressing His children (in the preceding verse He speaks of chastening them). When the Lord spoke of dining with these disobedient believers, He was referring to the custom of the day to restore a broken relationship which was done by sharing a meal together. Thus, the issue involved is not receiving salvation, but restoring a friendship with Christ.

The same man, who wrote this passage in Revelation, also wrote the Gospel of John. The book of Revelation was written primarily to believers, whereas the Gospel of John was written primarily to unbelievers. John states this in his Gospel account where he said, “But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). If an invitation were necessary to go to heaven, this is the place you would find it.

It is also of interest to note that John speaks of some who believed in Christ and never confessed Him (John 12:42,43). He records Jesus speaking of fruitless believers (15:2), and loveless believers (14:24). And he clearly showed there was a distinction between being a believer and being a disciple (8:30,31). This all coincides with the fact the Bible teaches there will be believers in heaven without any rewards (First Corinthians 3:11-15).

Some may question why Romans 10:9 says to confess Christ. The answer is found in Romans 10:10, which says, “With the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Salvation is received upon believing, but without a confession, no one knows except God and the person who has believed. A person doesn’t confess to receive salvation, but rather he confesses to a salvation he has already received.

How does the Lord feel about His children who refuse to confess Him? Jesus said, “For whosoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of Him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

To lead someone to think he must invite Christ into his heart or life is to preach a message opposed to the Bible. To be assured of heaven, a person must believe in Christ alone. To be assured of rewards in heaven, the believer must be faithful to God. What could be more important than accurately presenting God’s message of salvation?

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