Our guest speaker this past Sunday presented a sermon on the topic of Hell. To begin, he played a video of someone interviewing people on the streets about Heaven. The interviewer would ask, “Do you believe in Heaven?”, “How do you get to Heaven?”, and “Do you believe Hell is a real place?” Sadly, many of those shown in the video didn’t believe in Hell, whether or not they even believe in Heaven.
What I would like to focus on today, though, is the many answers to the second question: “How do you get to Heaven?” The most constant answer to that was good deeds. Many believe that if you’re a good person, that if you do good deeds throughout your life, and if you do no one any wrong you will get to go to Heaven. Yet, Heaven isn’t about how many good deeds you’ve done nor how good you were during your years on earth. To believe as such is to believe as if God has a list like Santa Claus on Christmas. If you’ve been nice this year and pass away, then you get to enter Heaven. If you’ve been naughty this year, you better hope you don’t die.
The truth is it isn’t about what we do to earn our way into Heaven, it’s about what Jesus did. In order for us to enter Heaven our sins had to be paid for. Unfortunately, we had inherited so much sinful debt we couldn’t escape it and would have been without hope if we were the only ones we could rely on to pay it. We would eternally be slaves trying to work that debt off with no end in sight, for this inherited debt began long ago.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”Romans 5:12
Like an ill invested inheritance, we received sin from our ancestors only to add to the pile our own sins. Before Jesus came, the debt of sin wasn’t that large. Thus, the Jews under the old covenant could repent with the blood of sacrificed animals, for only blood could cleanse the body of sins. However, the blood of animal sacrifices in the days of the old covenant only cleansed the outside of the body. It possibly took care of their current sins, but it didn’t cleanse them internally, meaning the debt received from their ancestors wasn’t completely cleansed from them.
“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.”Hebrews 9:13
As a result, Jesus came and died to pay the overwhelming debt we had. Why? Because He loved us. Without that debt paid, we couldn’t enter Heaven when we passed from this world. If no one could enter Heaven then God would be back to square one before He created all things. God created us as His children to have someone to love and to be loved by. We as imperfect people long for someone to love and to be loved by, so we should know how this feels. I mean, we were created in the image of God for a reason. What child do you know of doesn’t look like or act like their parent?
God didn’t want to lose us. So, He sent His “one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). With Jesus’s blood, our debt was paid for in full and we were given the chance to have everlasting life with Him, for His blood cleanses internally.
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”Hebrews 9:14
Again, it’s not about what we can do to earn our way into Heaven, it’s about what Jesus did. As Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that one can boast.” God loves each and every one of you just the way you are. He wants you to get to know Him. He created your voice the way it is to hear it beautifully in His ears. He created your smile to warm His heart. He created your life so you can walk with Him down paths of wisdom and strength. All He askes in return is for you to trust Him and love Him above all else.
And how do you do that? By praying to Him, admitting you recognize your sins and want to be forgiven, by believing Jesus is your Lord and Savior and that God raised Him from the dead, and asking Jesus into your heart. He has set the captives free before and He’s willing to do it again with you. Do you long to be unconditionally loved? Do you long to be free?
“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”Hebrews 9:15
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”John 8:36
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”John 15:9