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Archive for the tag “Heaven and Hell”

Good Enough Standard

Sometime in my life, I adopted the “good enough” standard. I am not a perfectionist, although I do have a tendency to lean in that direction. When I get to that point of wanting that thing to be perfect, I have to remind myself it can be just good enough to get it done. I want the job to be done correctly, but all the “i’s” don’t have to be dotted as long as the “t’s” are crossed. There’s a point when the standard has to be “good enough.” That might go against someone else’s OCD, but it might be time to just let it go!

However, the standard of “good enough” doesn’t relate to the Kingdom of God. There isn’t a standard of good enough but of perfection. Scripture tells us no one is good. We could compare ourselves to each other, but we would still fall short of God’s perfection. There’s only one who met His perfect standards – Jesus Christ. He is the standard God set before us.

There are many who believe in the standard of good enough. “I am better than my neighbor or the murderer on death row.” Many believe they can “earn” their way into heaven by doing good works. Many believe this life is it. You only live once, so live it up. Still others say that since they are good, then they will end up in a good place. Many believe the Bible is outdated and not worth the paper it’s written on. Some say that it’s just a crutch for those poor, unstable folks.

Heaven and hell are hard topics to wrap our heads around. I mean, what loving God would throw good people in hell? If there is no hell, then we wouldn’t have to worry about what happens next. We could all live happily ever after. We could have our cake and eat it too! We wouldn’t have to worry about laws. We could kill whoever we wanted to; we could steal anything our heart desires. We could live a life that throws all caution to the wind. It wouldn’t matter. There are no consequences to our actions. But there are rules of the land, and we have to abide by them. God has rules as well whether we believe it or not, and we have to live by them or face His consequences.

Jesus set the standard that we cannot meet, unless we have His salvation that clothes us in His righteousness. I like the illustration that Joyce Meyer uses about our sinful lives. She had an old dirty coat that she wore on stage. The dirty coat represented her sins. There was nothing she could do to make that coat clean. However, her husband came out on stage in a white coat. He played the part of Jesus. Jesus took off His white coat and gave it to Joyce in exchange for her dirty coat. That is the exchange that was made on the cross. Jesus took on our sins and in exchange gave us His righteousness; not because of our goodness but because of His.

I heard that there are no good people in heaven, only forgiven ones. If there was a different way to get to heaven, He died in vain. Jesus even asked if God would take the cross from Him, but in the end said “Your will be done” – and it was. Jesus was nailed to a cross as the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world. The sacrifice was made. If there had been another way to heaven, God would have opted His Son to take a different route to get there.

It’s interesting about the symbolism that the Old Testament uses throughout to prophecy the coming of Jesus Christ as a Lamb to be sacrificed. One of the best symbols is Abraham and his son, Isaac. Abraham was told to sacrifice his son just as God would sacrifice His own Son. Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice like Jesus carried His cross. Isaac was bound to the wood like Jesus was bound to the cross. Isaac was ready to be sacrificed, but God stopped Abraham’s hand and gave him another to sacrifice in Isaac’s place. But God did not stop Jesus from the sacrifice.

There was nothing else God could put in Jesus’ place. Jesus came for that mission. His eyes were set for the cross. If there was another way, it would have been taken. But the good enough standard was not met. It had to be a perfect sacrifice, and Jesus was perfect. The Bible tells us so. Not only that; but the ones who walked with Jesus for three years, told us the story. They witnessed and proclaimed all that happened.

Not only that; but the story has lasted for two thousand years, and it still changes people’s lives. I am one of them. Jesus changed my life. I know myself pretty well, and I can tell you I will never be good enough for heaven. But I am forgiven; I know that because of Jesus and what He did on the cross for my sins, I have been given a place in heaven. He told me so in His Word, and I believe it. I stand on that promise: wherever He is we will be there also (John 14:3).

Where do you stand on the topic of heaven or hell? What’s your measuring stick? Are you good enough? Don’t believe the lie, you will never be good enough, but God said that Jesus is. Trust Him and have faith in His dying on the cross for your sins – He was raised to a new life and you can be too. Believe it and confess it; and I’ll see you in heaven!

“And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” Acts 10:42-43 (NLT)

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From Here to Eternity

The question asked in our small group on Tuesday night was “Do you think about eternity?” Actually, I have to say “yes” especially this week. This is the twenty-third anniversary of a friend’s death. On that morning, she woke up in good spirits with excitement to do something she enjoyed doing. She loved to parachute and on that day she jumped into eternity. Her tragedy became one of my turning points in my life. Because of my friend’s death, I began the journey to find Jesus and make my life secure in Him.

About fifteen years ago, I struggled with thoughts of my death. When I would lie down at night, I would wrestle with the thoughts of heaven and hell. Well, more like be terrified with the thoughts of hell. I don’t remember what else was going on in my life at that time. I don’t know why Satan was tormenting me about those things. Eventually, I was reassured of my security in Jesus and hell was not going to be my eternal dwelling place. Jesus said He was going to make a place for me where He is (John 14:1-2), and I believed His Word to be true.

As I was contemplating this topic this week, a conversation with a college friend came to mind. Back on that day, I was questioning her involvement in church. She went to church but she was not a Christian. She said she knew she was going to hell, and she had already bought her air conditioner. Her comment unnerved me. How could she joke about something like that? I knew that was the place I didn’t want to spend my eternity. I had heard enough about hell that I didn’t want to end up there.

A study was quoted on Sunday in my pastor’s message that around 75% of the (American) population believes there is a heaven, but only 40% believes there is a hell. My pastor said that what you believe about eternity shows how you will live your life. If you believe there is no hell, then there are no consequences to your wrongdoing (sins). However, the default for everyone’s eternity is hell. Since Adam and Eve made the mistake of believing Satan’s word over God’s, hell has been our destiny. Because of the original sin, from that point on our fellowship with God was broken; and we have no right to be in His presence.

I have heard it said “How can a loving God send people to hell?” However, it should be said “How can a loving God not provide a way out of hell!” He provided a way out by sending His Son Jesus to restore our relationship with God. Jesus exchanged our cloak of sinfulness for His cloak of righteousness. And by His righteousness, we are allowed into the presence of God Almighty – Holy and Righteous One. It’s not by our goodness, because we don’t have any; but the goodness of Jesus.

I know lots of “good” people in this world that say they are going to heaven because of their good deeds. But it’s not about being good but being holy. Why would a holy God allow unholy people in His presence? He wouldn’t. Through His grace and mercy, Jesus shows us a different standard. Yes, Jesus is good, but He is also holy and righteous and a perfect representation of God the Father. Through Jesus, we become holy and righteous and are given the right to join Him in the Kingdom of God.

One of the stories written in the Gospels (found in Matthew 8, Mark 5 and Luke 8) tells of Jesus healing a man (or two) from a legion of demons. The demons knew Jesus and they knew their fate. Yet, the demons begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs instead of going into their eternal torment (“Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”). In James 2:19, the passage mentions that the demons believe in the one true God and they shudder. We are told in Luke 12:5 Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.

Our loving God wants us to spend eternity with Him. His desire is for all of us to be with Him in His Kingdom. Hell is total separation from Him. His desire is for all of us to walk with Him today – from here to eternity. Like He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, He has made a way for us to have that kind of relationship today. But this is our choice. While we are on this earth, we decide about eternity now. We will not be given an option after we die.

From what I understand, the death rate of all people is 100%. We are so concerned with our few years here on earth, but we should really be concerned with our eternity; and the eternity of our family and friends. There maybe someone you know that needs to know the Good News today because tomorrow they may be jumping straight into eternity. Do you think about eternity?

“The time promised by God has come at last!” (Jesus) announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15 (NLT)

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