While watching the news with my wife one night, I saw a story about a woman who touched the lives and hearts of so many people. When you look at her accomplishments in doing so, you can see why she was held with such high regard, even a Saint in their eyes. Some even said that they’re “sure she’s in Heaven right now looking down at them and smiling”. Now, I understand that it’s a nice feeling, and it gives mourners hope for their lost ones, but at the same time, my thoughts after hearing this were, “Yeah, if she knew the Lord, then she’s at least IN Heaven (regardless of whether or not she’s able to look down at us), but if she didn’t/doesn’t know Him, then I’m sorry, but she’s not there.”
I’ve noticed that there’s a huge misconception about Heaven, for so many see Heaven as a place of reward, like if you do well here then you’ll be rewarded by being able to go there. But here’s the thing: if Heaven was a place of reward, then that would mean that we could earn our way there. But Jesus said that the only way to the Father, who is IN Heaven, is through Him (Jesus). Paul also explained that it’s not by works that we’re saved, but through faith and trusting in Jesus Christ…but most definitely, an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. So since we can’t earn our way to Heaven by any means, Heaven therefore cannot a place of “reward”. (Understand, Heaven is a reward, but not in the sense where you earn your way there, which is the way we understand it here).
But if Heaven’s not a place of “reward”, then what is it? It’s the place where God is. Yes, God is everywhere, and we who are Christians have His Holy Spirit in us, so God is also in us, but Heaven is God’s home. It’s where there is no need for the sun because God is the light; it’s where one is fully healed; it’s where sin is nowhere to be found; it’s where God’s Kingdom is and fully reigns; it’s where angels live; it’s where all of God’s creation (those who accept Christ now) worships and praises Him “24/7”; and in Jesus’ words to the thief while on the cross, it’s “with Him in paradise”.
*Notice: up to this point, this has been meant as a discussion about the misconceptions of Heaven. Past this point, it turns into a discussion about getting to Heaven (or salvation and judgment). The questions asked are some I’ve been asked in such discussions, and some of the answers, I either gave, or wish I had thought of at the time.
So then if Heaven’s not a “reward”, then how do we get there? When Thomas asked Jesus where He’s going and how to get there, Jesus replied, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Nobody comes/goes to the Father but through Me.” Again though, if you don’t know or want to have anything to do with Jesus now, then why would you even want to go to Heaven, where Jesus is?
But if I don’t go to Heaven, then the only other place to go is Hell, and Hell is a place that’s known for its eternal torment. “That’s not fair!” Isn’t it? Because you see, God created everything that exists. There’s the place where He is, the place where He’s not, and here, which is the place where we get a small taste of both places. Don’t look at this as a fire and brimstone sermon, or a message on “fire insurance.” What I’m trying to point out is that if you refuse to spend personal time with God now, then why should you (or why would you even want to) go to a place where God is, and for all eternity? Wouldn’t that be a means of torture in your opinion? So you can live your life as good as you like, touching the hearts of as many as you can, but if you wish to have nothing to do with Jesus in this life, then when you die, you’ll go to a place that has nothing to do with Him in the next life (and that life lasts a whole lot longer than this one). Isn’t that fair?
“But Hell is also where Satan and his demons will go to be tormented. For them it’s judgment for their sins and turning against God. Why would I go there too? I never stole or killed anybody. So I would go to the same place as Satan?” Jesus once said “Anybody who’s not with me is against me.” We often don’t realize that if we’re not with Jesus, we’re actually with His enemy (Satan). But you might say, “What? I’m not a Satanist. I don’t bite animals’ heads off and sacrifice children. How can you say that I’m on Satan’s side?” You understand good vs. evil, yin vs. yang, day vs. night, Luke vs. Darth Vader, and light vs. dark, so why then don’t you understand God vs. Satan? God is in Heaven, and Satan will be in Hell. If you’re living with Jesus now, then you’re with God. But if you have nothing to do with Jesus now (I’m not talking about saying that you “believe” in God or went to church as a child. I’m talking about actually knowing and following Jesus Christ now), then you’re not with Jesus. And Jesus said that anybody not with Him is against Him.
Think of it this way: Say you’re at the World Series, and let’s say you’re a Cubs fan and they ACTUALLY made it there (because you know it’ll be the end of the world when that happens). As you’re rooting for the Cubs, you’re cursing the opponents. “Yeah! Grand Slam Home Run! Take that, you losers! Ha!” — “Catch that, Catch that- NOOOOOO!! Grand Slam other team, Boooooooooo! I crunch your heads…cruncha-cruncha-crunch.”
And so at the end of the game, if you’re not a fan of the other (and winning) team, then why would you even want to join them in their celebration?
Also, Satan’s team emblem is Sin. If you haven’t asked Jesus to remove it (and only Jesus can remove it), then you’re still wearing it. Therefore, in terms of judgment, just by wearing Satan’s team emblem, you’re still considered as being on Satan’s team, or being with Satan, and by being with Satan, you’ll be judged as he is…consider yourself an accomplice to his crimes.
So Heaven’s not a place of “reward”, but a place of being with the One and Only True God who created Heaven. But here’s the kicker…God is already hoping you’ll come. See, at His resurrection, Jesus opened the gates to Heaven for all people to enter, and has invited everybody in. The invitations have all been sent out, everybody got one, and Jesus has already prepared a place for you there in Heaven…now it’s just up to you to decide on whether you’ll go in or not. But you must R.S.V.P. (or accept the invitation before you die from this life), and you do that by accepting and getting to know Jesus Christ personally now, before your time runs out.
Switch your team emblem today!