Life: What’s it all about?
Over fifty years ago I wrote a “gospel tract” to help people understand what was most important in life. This was simply a little pamphlet that stated the basics of how to become a Christian. Even that many years ago I was excited about giving people the information they needed by which to be saved and spend eternity in heaven. The name on the front of the tract was Life: What’s it all about?
People often think that life’s simply all about growing up, getting married, having a family, owning a luxurious home, having a great income-producing career, and eventually enjoying a comfortable retirement. Certainly, all this and more can be a part of one’s life. But is this what life is really all about? Are these the primary things God put you here to accomplish?
In mentioning God, I assume you realize that there is a God. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, we’re all creatures of a Creator. Mankind did not just “happen,” as some claim. The very existence of the creation bears testimony to the existence of a Creator. Yes, the existence of the creation provides real evidence that there is a Creator. There is a God! And because He’s God, we are all accountable to Him.
What would you say to someone who was dying and asking what they needed to do to get to heaven? Would you be able to give them a brief but accurate explanation, helping them know exactly what they needed to do? Would you be confident about whatever you told them?
I Peter 3:15b
15b and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: [Emphasis added]
So, what would you say? The two questions I asked in the preceding paragraph were actually “trick questions.” The reality is that a person doesn’t need to DO anything to prepare for eternity. Instead, preparing for eternity is all about believing in something that’s been DONE to provide the way of salvation. The truth of the matter is that no one can DO anything to qualify for heaven. Yet most people would tell you certain things YOU need to DO to get to heaven. They almost always think they must DO something or some combination of things to qualify for heaven. In fact, probably your greatest challenge in helping someone with this is showing them that their own works or activities to get to heaven don’t count for anything with God. He’s not impressed no matter what people do. This is quite a blow to the ego of people who think they’ve been working on this. In fact, the ones who feel pretty good about all the things they’ve done will be the hardest to reach with the truth. They’ll keep wanting to hang on to all the things they think they’ve done to help them qualify for heaven. But the first thing people need to realize is that as sinners by nature they’re in a hopeless and helpless situation. It is impossible for them to DO anything to qualify for heaven. It is actually God who must DO something for them if they are to be saved. The good news you have to share with them is that God has done something. Their only part in the matter is to believe it. They must rely on it! That means that it is what God has done for them that they need to be impressed with, not anything that they have done and/or are doing.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]
But first let’s look at the basics about all this. Everyone needs the salvation God offers because all are sinners, having fallen short of His perfect standards for entry into heaven.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [Emphasis added]
That includes ALL of us. No exceptions! The “glory of God” is to do with His high standards. Unlike us, He is perfect in goodness or righteousness. Then we have verses of Scripture like this next one.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Emphasis added]
The Bible warns us about assuming our own works of righteousness have something to do with the attainment of salvation. We are told that our own works not only don’t work us out of this hole of helplessness but matters get worse if we try.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]
We may feel proud of our works of righteousness but look at how God sees them.
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. [Emphasis added]
We find from the Hebrew text from which this passage comes that the “filthy rags” under discussion are used menstrual rags. This tells us in vivid terms that our works of righteousness we may try to use to impress God are totally repugnant to Him. And it is because of our hopeless and helpless position to impress him with such works that God chose to do something to provide a way of salvation for us. If He had not done that, there would never be a way of salvation for anyone. But the good news, the gospel message, tells us God DID DO SOMETHING. Because of His love for us, God did exactly what had to be done if a way of salvation was to be provided.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Emphasis added]
In other words, because of His love for us, God sent His Son to pay the full penalty for our sins so that salvation would be available to all of us.
A great danger concerning all this is that you put off getting this matter settled. Even as you read this, the matter can be settled once and for all. All you must believe is that Christ paid the penalty for your sins as He died on a cross some two-thousand years ago. His body was then put in a grave and three days later He arose. All this He did for you that you might have this opportunity to end up in heaven. He knows your thoughts. In fact, there never was a time when He didn’t know what you were thinking. I encourage you to now put your faith in Him so that you’ll know that if you were to die, you’d immediately find yourself in this wonderful place called heaven. The message to you is just as it was to a jailer many years ago.
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. [Emphasis added]
Like that jailer, you may also have family members that need to know these things. If they’ll believe in this message regarding Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, they, too, can have the assurance of knowing where they will get to spend eternity. You may even want to share this article with them. That could be a simple but effective way of letting them know exactly what they must BELIEVE, rather than DO, to have eternal life. This last passage I’ll mention sums it all up as well as anything you’ll find in the Bible.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel [the good news] which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
If you’ll decide to believe this message, it’ll be the most important decision you have ever made. I hope you’ll make it without delay.
Heaven: How does a person qualify?