Two Questions:

1. Have you come to the place in your thinking where you know for sure that when you die you will go to heaven?

2. Suppose that you did die tonight and you stood before God and God said to you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” What would you say?

Those questions were first posed by Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse on his radio show in 1949. I’ve heard a lot of different answers to those questions. What are your answers?

I’ve been thinking about the Gospel lately. Well, when I say ‘lately’ I mean for a year or more, thinking about what it is, what it means and how I have heard misrepresentations of the Gospel all my life. The one misrepresentation that especially saddens me is the one that so many people tell children, “Just ask Jesus to come into your heart.”

We’re talking about what the Gospel is in Sunday School this week and the pastor has mentioned that he will be preaching about what the Gospel is in the coming months. Not that he doesn’t preach the Gospel at other times, he does. But I think he wants to teach us exactly what it is, what it means.

Here are my conclusions after study and prayer and thought.

It is essential to understand that the Gospel begins with the premise that God is just and God is holy. We’re told repeatedly in the Word of God that God is just and holy and that He cannot sin. The Law of God reveals that God is holy and just and that we are not holy and just. So then, we are all debtors who cannot pay our debt of sin to God.

In order to bring all of us sin-filled people back to Himself, without violating His holiness or justness, He made a way.

An aside:
With all the talk about Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, and the idea that a loving God would not allow people to go to hell where they will be punished forever, I want to make sure I include here the fact that God is a loving God. He is also a just God and a God who is holy.    How could He be called ‘Just’ if He allowed sin to go unpunished?

Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, but that is not all that was required of Him in order to procure our salvation. If God had dropped Jesus down on earth, right onto the cross and He was crucified, it would not have been enough.  Don’t get all uptight with me, just think.

Jesus came to earth, was born to a virgin mother as a baby. He lived His entire life under the Law of God and obeyed it perfectly. He had to do this in order to be our substitute under the Law.  Jesus not only died for us, He lived for us. He said that His very meat and drink was to obey, to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).   So Jesus took this task very seriously and He obeyed the Law perfectly at all times.

Because of this, He was the appropriate, perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-12).  He was that Perfect Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

Now what must we do in order to  have the benefit of the work of Christ attributed to us?  That is the question.

You might say that we must believe. And that is correct, but what does it mean to believe? It is important to make sure we know what it means.

There is what some people call belief which is an intellectual assent to the facts that Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin and that He was a sacrifice for our sins.  That by itself is intellectual assent to the facts, but it is not the kind of belief that leads to salvation.

So what is it to believe?

Dr. D. James Kennedy preached a sermon where he used this word picture.  He said, “See that chair? Do you believe that chair could hold you?”  And of course, the chair looked sturdy, it looked like it could hold someone, so the answer is “Yes, I believe that chair can hold me.”

But then the next question is, “Is that chair holding you up right now?”  And the answer would be “No.”

Belief is like that. You can acknowledge the facts and agree with them, but it is another thing entirely to trust those facts for yourself.

Dr. Kennedy continued in his sermon; he took an open book in his left hand and said, “Imagine that God keeps a written record of all your sins.”  And he went on to talk about how filled with writing our books would be of our sins.  Then he took an open book in his right hand and said, “Now imagine that this is Jesus book where His sins are written, it is blank, every page white as snow.”  Then as Dr. Kennedy laid the book in his right hand on top of the book in his left hand, he went on to explain that when we trust God that Jesus is the perfect substitution and sacrifice for our own sins, God in effect, lays Jesus’ book over the top of ours and chooses at that point to see the white, pure clean pages of Jesus’ book instead of ours.

God sees the perfect in place of the sinful.

So lets go back to those two questions.

It is not enough to acknowledge Jesus is able to save you, you must put your trust in Him so that when you stand before God you will not answer the question, “Why should I let you into My heaven?”  by saying that you tried to do what was right and be a good person. You will be able to say, “There is no reason that You should let me come into Your heaven except that I am trusting in Christ and Christ alone.  I am resting in His righteousness and atonement because there is absolutely nothing I can do to make up for my iniquity.”