by Calven Celliers
Earlier this week a good friend and I were chatting about the effects of the Covid pandemic on the life of the Church going forward, and my friend commented, “I think when Church opens up all together, it will be like going to heaven … you will look for people you know but they won’t be there!” Initially I had a good giggle, but the thought lingered in my mind all day and I found myself eventually feeling quite sad at the thought of (a) people in the New Harvest family who have succumb to Covid and will be sorely missed when we all return to Church, and (b) people who won’t come back to Church at all for whatever reason, and (c) the possibility of people who I love that might not be in heaven one day – that one got me really sad! And it’s that point that I want to spend a bit more time exploring.
Can we be sure we’ll go to heaven? In his first epistle the apostle John says: “13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13NIV) In other words, yes you can know! God loves you and He has provided a way that you can be absolutely sure where you will spend eternity.
The problem arises when you consider the reality, however, that hell, not heaven, is our default destination. We are all sinners by nature – “…23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23NIV) As a result, we deserve death and hell. Sin has terrible consequences, but God has provided a solution – “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23NIV) We cannot save ourselves – “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8 & 9NIV) We cannot pay our own way – “12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12NIV)
In his letter to the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul says that “9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” (Romans 10: 9 – 13NIV) As He hung upon the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the hell we deserve so that we can experience an eternity we don’t deserve in heaven! Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf, God freely offers us forgiveness.
When Jesus died on the cross for us, it is recorded in the Gospels that He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30NIV). In Biblical times “It is finished” was commonly written across certificates of debt when they were cancelled. It meant “Paid in full.” Jesus died so that the certificate of debt consisting of all our sins could once and for all be marked “Paid in full.”
Now is the time to make things right with God. Confess your sinfulness and accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf – “9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9NIV) Praise God for the sacrifice of Jesus that is sufficient to cover all of your sins. All of them! The price for your redemption has been paid! You are forgiven! Eternal life is yours! Heaven is open! See you there!