By Paul Tatham
Dean of Academics, The First Academy, Orlando, Florida
Many Ideas, Many Myths
10. As long as I believe in something with all my heart.
Not exactly. The object of our faith is what's important. We can have all the faith
in the world that a rickety chair will hold us, yet end up on our tush.
9. As long as I hang around Christians, I'm in.
That won't make us a Christian any more than hanging around a garage will make us a Chevy.
8. Perfect church attendance will certainly do it.
We can score points with a pastor, but not with God.
7. I've never committed any big sins.
You mean like murder your boss? Give
yourself a solid pat on the back! But it doesn't take much to keep us out of
Heaven. In fact, the Bible says God won't allow in anyone with a single,
6. I've been baptized.
Another venerable deed. But baptism was
never designed to wash away our sins. Instead, it's an act of obedience to
Christ that follows salvation. In other words, baptism doesn't make us
a Christian; it marks us as a Christian.
5. My parents are Christians.
That's great, but that won't help us.
Our parents might have season tickets to the New York Yankees' games, but that
doesn't mean we're getting into the stadium. Cold as it may sound,
it's every man for himself.
4. I give lots of money to good causes.
Because we mortals are so impressed with
money, we figure God must be, too. However, when You own the cattle on a
thousand hills and the wealth of every gold mine, a few thousand bucks someone
gives away over one's lifetime doesn't get much a rise out of God. Besides, if
there was a price tag to buy our way into Heaven, would we be able to afford
it? Donald Trump doesn't have enough money.
3. I'm basically a nice guy/gal.
Nice people endear themselves to us, so
certainly God must like them, too. But there's just one catch: Nice people
aren't perfect, and, remember, we have to be perfect to get into Heaven. Picky,
2. I read my Bible and pray.
Good, so have lots of people prior to
their actual salvation. God then exposed them to even more light which, in
turn, led to their decision to accept Christ as their personal Savior.
1. My good works outweigh my bad works.
Sure, none of us are perfect, but if we
have done more good than bad we're in. Ask anyone! Most of us picture a line
into Heaven with a great weigh-in. All our good deeds are loaded onto one side
of a scale and all our bad deeds are loaded onto the other side. If the good
side tips the scale, we're admitted to Heaven. Interesting thought, but there's
one significant glitch: The Bible says just one
sin or bad deed, regardless of how small it is, will outweigh all the good
stuff! Sounds strange, doesn't it?
So, how do we get into Heaven?
I was hoping you'd ask that, because there is
nothing we can do to earn a spot in Heaven. In fact, God looks at our self
efforts to earn Heaven as a slap in His face. "Why, then," God would
respond, "did I send my Son, Jesus, to die? "The whole point of that
ordeal was to pay the entire sin penalty because no human being can
atone for his own sin, in whole or in part."
Phew! What a load off my shoulders. So, we
don't have to pay anything to get to Heaven? That's right! Although salvation
cost God the Father His Son, our entry is free. One thing that works against
this principle is that we humans have learned to be suspicious of free stuff.
If it's free, we reason, it's probably not worth much. Ususally, that is true.
But salvation is a major exception.
The only biblical requirement for us to gain
Heaven upon death is a repentant heart and an understanding and acceptance that
Jesus Christ paid for all our sin with His blood. We don't have to be in church
to accept this. We can pray anywhere.
"Lord, I admit that I am a
sinner. I believe I cannot pay my sin debt. I accept that Jesus paid that debt
in full when He died for me and rose again. I ask you to forgive me and wash
away my sins—past, present, and future—with your shed blood. Come into my life,
Lord Jesus Christ, and cleanse me. Thank you for saving me. I pray this in the
name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
If we meant this prayer, as opposed to just
following a script, God sees us as a true Christian. He sees us purified and
now worthy to enter Heaven.
Anything else? Begin attending a church where
the Bible is clearly taught. Read the Bible yourself. Check out getting
baptised by immersion. Begin or continue doing good stuff to put some feet to