Have you ever wondered how far away heaven really is? In other words, to what lengths does a person have to go to one day find its gates? Need everyone pass their familiar horizons to journey to a distant land on some religious pilgrimage? Is, perhaps, some form of cruel mental or emotional punishment required to clear away the grievances committed in this life? Must one allow pain or torture to be inflicted upon one’s physical body in order to save one’s spirit and soul? Must one allow oneself to become cut off from all that is dear and from friends and family to be holy in God’s sight? Indeed, as one young man stated in the Bible, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25) Ah, one wonders how far away heaven really is when one stops to ponder the immense distance that needs to be covered to reach that glorious land of sinless, sorrowless, and painless eternity.
On the other hand, is heaven perhaps only one act or one good deed away? Is it really no great achievement to obtain entrance into its gates? Will everyone ultimately obtain the necessary passport to pass paradise’s borders and to forever live upon its fair countryside? Will anyone, in fact, actually ever be denied entrance into such a land infinitely desirable for happiness and forever secure from harm? Is such a land perhaps intended for every human being who has ever lived, or only for a select few? Either way, what determines the guidelines for reaching such a place? All of these questions and many more might make heaven literally appear galaxies away, reachable only for perhaps the seemingly purest and most spiritually ambitious souls in mankind’s history.
Alas, as the famous Pontius Pilate himself bewildered, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Indeed, is there any hope at all for the vilest sinners? Perhaps there is no assurance of heaven for even the most religious people. What is the answer? Is there an answer? Can it be found? Wonder of all wonders! The answer is a bountiful “Yes!” Where is that answer found? It is found in the Words of the Creator of the Universe, Who also stands as the sole Redeemer of all human life. What is God’s only plan for our salvation? It is marvelously simple:
“Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)
Yes, “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) For all humanity, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came once to earth to bridge the vast distance separating every human soul from heaven’s gates. For all humanity, Jesus Christ made a pilgrimage of humility from His lofty throne in heaven (Philippians 2:5-9) to come to far-away earth as a lowly babe born in a humble manger. For all humanity, Jesus Christ endured the cruelest mental and emotional harassment in history, for He was “…despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….” (Isaiah 53:3) For all humanity, Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God—was beaten and disfigured beyond recognition, for “…his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men….” (Isaiah 52:14) For all humanity, Jesus Christ found himself painfully separated from those closest to Him; for “…they all forsook him, and fled.” (Mark 14:50). Then, for all humanity, Jesus Christ even cried out in agonizing grief, “…My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark15:34) On top of all of that, we today have all “…hid as it were our faces from him.” (Isaiah 53:3) Sadly, “…there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11) All of this sacrifice and infinitely more did Christ personally endure to save all of humanity! Not impersonally, but personally for every living soul did Christ die! Therefore, “whosoever will” may “come”! (Revelation 22:17) Well then, how does one come to this wonderful “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”? (John 1:29) The utter “…simplicity that is in Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3) is absolutely breathtaking!
Point #1: The Reality of Personal Sin:
First, dear reader, you must understand that every human being alive is a sinner, no matter how small or how large their sins may be; for “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) In fact, “…there is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) Now, how can it be that there never has been and never shall be a truly righteous human being living in the flesh on this earth? It is simply because, no matter how many righteous acts or good deeds a person may do in his life, the smallest sin one can possibly commit entirely reverses every bit of personal merit or righteousness one could possibly build up to present before God; “for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) Therefore, all people are sinners from birth to death. (Psalm 51:5) Dear reader, it is essential to realize that, along with the rest of humanity, you also are completely separated from God’s holy presence by even the smallest sin you have ever committed, for God is “…of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity….” (Habakkuk 1:13). By the way, God knows very well that our sins are rarely small ones, too; for “even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Proverbs 20:11) Yes, you must personally reach the initially painful (to our pride) but ultimately beneficial (to our happiness) realization that you are a sinner, just as I am. Only then will you personally realize your need for the healing salve of the “precious blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:19), the Lamb of God!
Point #2: The Recognition of Sin’s Penalty:
Second, dear reader, you must understand that the penalty for all sin, even the smallest one, is not just guilt or even physical death. If those were the only consequences for sin, most people would find little reason for holding back from sin in the first place! Sadly, but again beneficially, there is an infinitely worse penalty for sin. That penalty, which is all-too-soon irreversible, is an eternal death in a literal, burning place the Bible calls “hell.” Indeed, “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Thus, physical death is merely a toll-gate into eternal torture and undying torment. Why must such horror await every sinner? It is simply because, “…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4,20) Not only must one’s physical body eventually die because of sin, but also one’s own soul must suffer eternal death as well! Again, why must such a terrible punishment for sin exist? The reason is simply that “…the wages of sin is death….” (Romans 6:23) Yes, the “wages,” or penalty for even one single sin is the “death” that does not merely involve the first death and deterioration of one’s physical body in a grave, but also the second death of one’s soul and body throughout never-ending millennia within hell’s burning lake of fire. Sadly, that is why, without exception, “…the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) Does it matter if one is not a murderer or has never committed such so-called “mortal” sins as sorcery or fornication? No, for even such superficially innocent people as “the fearful, and unbelieving” shall find that they, too, are assigned straightway into hell’s clutching, clawing cruelties. Yes, “the same… shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night….” (Revelation 14:10-11) Alas, no rest! Tormented day and night for ever! Could anything at all be worth such excruciating, unrelenting suffering? No, absolutely nothing is—especially the very sin that people embrace because they never understand that it is already dragging them down into the pits of brimstone and away from God’s hand of mercy extended toward them! The burning lake of “Hell” is a steep price to want to pay for even the worst sins, yet every human being that has ever lived fully deserves such a dreadful penalty, including me!
Point #3: The Realization of Sin’s Payment:
Third, dear reader, you must not despair into hopelessness, for the Bible’s message is anything but one of hopelessness for those who hunger to be saved from the fires of hell. Oh, dear reader, take sublime comfort in the wonderful truth that God is “…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (IIPeter 3:9) Understand therefore that “…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) God desires for no human being to become eternally trapped in hell. In fact, that lake of “everlasting fire” was not originally prepared for you or for any other human being at all; instead, it was originally “…prepared for the devil and his angels” only. (Matthew 25:41) Therefore, is it any wonder that God wishes to call away every last possible human being from blindly following Satan toward hell’s fire through either willful or ignorant rebellion against God? O! Lost soul, realize for your good that “…God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”! (John 3:16) Best of all, God does not require that one clean up one’s life or make good for all one’s sins before coming to Him for salvation. On the contrary, “…God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) What does that verse mean? It means that, as someone once said, Jesus will receive you like you are, even though he will never leave you that way—praise be to His name! Yes, Christ, the “Lamb of God” was sacrificed for the sins of all humanity—including yours! He died upon the cross about two-thousand years ago, fully knowing that you would be alive today and would need His salvation! He alone can pay the penalty for your sins! He, and He alone, is able to stand between you and God to reconcile you both together. Why? The reason is simple: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (I Timothy 2:5-6) Indeed, no other man in the whole world’s history could have ever saved mankind from sin! Only Jesus Christ could have ever accomplished that miracle of miracles! Why? The reason is that, in Him, “…God was manifest in the flesh….” (I Timothy 3:16)! Therefore, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Holy God Himself presented Himself to be the only ransom ever capable of actually saving you from your sins. Glorious news is this—that the Lamb of God is none other than God Himself, and that He freely gave His own life to pay the ransom for your sins!
Point #4: The Repentance from Personal Sin:
Fourth, dear reader, you must understand that, though Christ has given His very life for you, you must with your heart personally “repent” (turn from) the sin that has been hastening you towards the “everlasting fire” and that made it necessary for Christ to die on the cross for you in the first place. Now, was it actually necessary for Christ to die for your sins? Sadly, it definitely was, for “…almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22) That is why salvation is through Christ alone, “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14) Now, while it is true that Christ would have died for you alone even if you were the only person on earth, it is equally true that your sins alone were by themselves totally sufficient to cause Christ to have to die on the cross. The same is true of me and my sins. It is in this horrible realization that sin becomes ugly in the most extreme sense—for each person’s sin is what nailed the infinitely loving Savior Jesus Christ to Calvary’s cross more surely than the Roman nails which physically held Him there. Therefore, is it any surprise, dear reader, that Christ says to you as well as to everyone else, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5) However, along with Christ’s sober warning to repent comes the warming invitation to do so, for the Bible reminds each person that “…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance”! (Romans 2:4) It was because of that sweet goodness of God that the beloved Apostle Paul went “…from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:20-21) Now, is there anything holding you back from gratefully repenting of your sins, now that you have learned how freely Christ died for you? Consider His love for you, and perhaps your own heart will grow weary of the grip of sin upon your present life and upon your eternal future. If so, then look to Jesus for salvation. Yes, “behold the Lamb of God,” calling to one and all, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22) Actually, repentance is marvelously simple: the main obstacles really ever keeping people from repenting are either ignorance or pride. However, remember how Christ humbled Himself; for, “…being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) If Christ became obedient unto death for you, surely you will not hesitate to become obedient unto eternal life through Him!
Point #5: The Receiving of the Personal Savior:
Fifth, dear reader, you must believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, that He rose again from the dead (Romans 10:9), and that He is now personally calling you through these powerful Bible passages to place your faith in His shed blood to pay for your sins and to save you from eternal death in hell. His promise is clear: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10,13) Notice that, in this promise, the Bible does not say that you “might” be saved: it says that you “shall” be saved! That is a promise that can never fail, for “God… cannot lie….”! (Titus 1:2) However, Christ will never force you to accept His FREE gift of salvation to you, even though He wants you to accept it more than anything else! By the way, while considering what Christ has done for you, remember that there is NO OTHER WAY to get to heaven than through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. You can never save yourself by your own good works or deeds: “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Now, if anyone persists in thinking there is another or a better way than through Jesus alone, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Yes, Jesus is the only door into heaven, and He warns, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1) Therefore, knowing such vital truths, who would ever knowingly want to attempt any way but Jesus alone?
Most importantly, please do not delay! Make the choice quickly for your soul’s salvation; for God warns, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that… thou… may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) Dear soul, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near”! (Isaiah 55:6) At this very point, Christ will likely be the single turning point for your entire eternity; for “he that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18) Therefore, are you ready to NOW call upon and trust in Christ to be your own personal Savior?
Then, in simple prayer, which is nothing more than talking to God in your own words, take a moment to bow your head right now wherever you are to sincerely confess to Jesus (1) that you are a sinner deserving hell, (2) that you cannot in any way save your own soul by any amount of good works, (3) that you now repent of all your sins, and (4) that you now place your faith completely in Jesus Christ and His shed blood to cleanse you from all your sins and to save you from hell. After that, close your prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Finally, dear reader, remember that salvation never depends upon emotional highs or warm feelings: it can never even depend upon a mindless or heartless recitation of the prayer indicated above. Salvation is always and only based on BELIEVING with one’s heart and CONFESSING with one’s mouth what God has already promised in His Word to those who call upon the Lamb of God sacrificed for humanity’s sin. Salvation is simply BELIEVING in and PERSONALLY APPROPRIATING God’s promise that “…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”! (Romans 10:13) Do not delay! In complete faith, “call upon” and “behold the Lamb of God” as your very own Savior TODAY! You will then have all eternity to be exceedingly glad you did!
(Copyright by Dr. Dwayne Piper: Permission to Copy, But Not for Resale)