If someone were to ask you why you wanted to go to heaven, then, what would you tell them? You might say, “I will live forever in heaven”, or, “There will be no more pain, heartache, and sickness there”, or, “I will see family and friends who died before me”, or, “It will be a wonderful place.”
Although those answers and many more are all true, perhaps another question should be, “Why do you think you are going there?” Your response might include, “Well, I am a Christian”, or, “I have lived a good life and tried to keep the commandments”, or, “I did the best I could to help the needy and show love toward everyone”, or, “I went to church on most Sundays, and I love God”.
If you had said that you were a Christian, then, how do you define the term “Christian?” Simply doing the other things mentioned certainly describes what Christians do, but they do not make you a biblical Christian. They are all works based efforts, and have absolutely nothing to do with eternal salvation. Scripture clearly teaches that biblical salvation is by faith alone...not of any good works we might try to do to earn it, or gain favor with God. To simply claim that you love God does not make you a biblical Christian, either.
Hopefully, you would say the most important reason for going to heaven is because Jesus will be there, and you will be with Him. Although that must be the number one and only reason for wanting to go there, what exactly is it about Him that would cause you to give that answer? After all, the great men of our Biblical faith will be there, too. Who is Jesus to you, and why would you want to see Him and be with Him above all else?
To Bible believing, born-again, redeemed, forgiven, heaven-bound followers of Jesus, being a Christian is not about religion or life style, but rather, is all about having a personal relationship with Him. Jesus is their all in all...the Savior, Lord, and Master of their life...and the only sure hope for the future. Out of His love for each of us, Jesus is the One who paid the full price for our sin debt...something we could never do. Jesus paid the penalty by sacrificing His life to purchase our redemption with His shed blood for all who would choose to follow Him. Then, when He rose from the dead, Jesus conquered death and the grave that we might also have life.
It does nothing to simply believe what He did, for even the fallen angels believe. The Scriptures teach that to become Christians, people must understand what Jesus did for them. They must be convicted to consciously and deliberately reach out to Him by faith alone with humble and repentant submission to receive His free gift of salvation. His salvation gift will immediately be given to all who sincerely desire to receive it...just as He promised. Then, with Jesus in their heart forever, they will joyfully and confidently declare Him Lord over all, and will boldly share the saving gospel with others at every opportunity.
Christians will completely trust Him, depend on Him, and cast their burdens on Him. Jesus is their source of comfort and assurance. They will honor and glorify Him, worship Him, praise Him, serve Him, and love Him...thanking Him in all things. Prayers will be answered according to His purpose, and His written Word will be revealed to us if our heart truly belongs to Him.
A personal relationship cannot exist unless we talk with Him and read His Word daily, listen for His counsel, and are mindful of His constant presence in our life. Christians will share their concerns, their uncertainties, as well as their joys with Him each and every day. With that relationship, He will be the best friend we could ever have...never leaving or disappointing us.
Is your relationship with Jesus vibrant and visible as a witness for His honor and glory? Or, do you ignore Him much of the time...perhaps only calling on Him as a last resort when serious trouble strikes? You would never ignore your best friend here on earth, or family members who love you deeply...and not call them or speak to them. How often and how long do you spend in conversation with them each day...compared to quality time spent with the Lord? As it is with your friends and family, Jesus not only wants us to lean on Him and share every detail of our life with Him, but He expects Christians to do so.
If you have no close relationship with Jesus in this life, then, what do you think it would be like in heaven if you don’t really know Him today as your closest friend? Why would you even want to go there, and how do you think you are going to get there if He doesn’t know you? Just being “Christian-in-name-only” counts for nothing in the eyes of God.
Contrary to the belief of many, heaven is not just a place where people go when they die. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Are you prepared to go there? Do you long to be there with Him? Is Jesus your all in all...and, the Savior, Lord, and Master of your life above all else? Have you been on your knees before Him in repentant submission to invite Jesus into your heart and life? If you are not absolutely sure, then, perhaps you do not belong to Him. Only you and God can truly know the Spiritual condition of your heart.
If you sincerely desire to have a personal relationship with Him, then, I pray you would choose to reach out and receive His free gift of salvation today...before it is too late.
Good questions and thought provoking writing, Don. For my dad, I think it was the idea of dwelling (like abiding) in the House of the Lord forever (and he was partial to the KJV "mansions" rather than the "rooms" of other versions)! A couple mornings after he passed away, I think God gave me a glimpse of His glory. I woke with the music "How lovely is Thy dwelling place, O Lord of hosts" singing in my ears, and immediately connected it with my dad on a guided tour with the Savior!
My relationship with Jesus is along the lines of adventure, with Him as the only Guide worth trusting with my life. In fact, a missionary-pastor at our church explained it this way:
---"Life in the kingdom of God isn't checking items off your divine to-do list. It's a dynamic, dramatic, totally unpredictable field trip with the teacher who is also your Savior and your Lord. It's an adventure he invites you to start on today. Amen." ---Pr. John Spaulding
Thanks for pulling out those thoughts (and pardon me for taking up so much comment space)! :)