CHOOSING TO GET TO HEAVEN
Peter, was asked on the day of Pentecost by the Jews, “What must we do to be saved?” after realizing they were spiritually lost. Peter told them what to do and they obeyed.
While we teach the plan of salvation, we must also stress that those seeking eternal life, must choose to be saved. It is a requirement of all who seek salvation. In Joshua 24:15, Joshua tells the Israelites to make a choice in whom they would serve, in making up our minds to serve God, we are choosing to go to heaven. With a determined attitude and a singleness of heart, we choose to do whatever God commands of us, no matter the cost or hardship. We must with great purpose allow our focus to constantly be on getting to heaven. We don’t forsake the assembling because we choose to go to heaven. We study and teach others because our aim is heaven. We hold fast to the profession of our faith (Heb. 10:23) not wavering we choose to go to heaven rather than spend eternity with the devil and his angels.
If we want to get to heaven we must “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. This is what Paul told the Christians in Corinth to do (2 Cor. 13:5).We must aim for success in our salvation with a positive and eager heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for all the Lord has given us. We must choose not to be bitter in our service to the Lord, never waiver, doubt, or serve God half heartedly.
TO GET TO HEAVEN WE MUST:
1. Choose to serve and obey God’s Word. Joshua 24
2. Put God above all others. Luke 16:13
3. Love spiritual things more than carnal things. Matthew 6:33
4. Show others the way. 1 Timothy 4:12
5. Commit to learning the gospel. 2 Timothy 2:15
6. Commit to teaching the gospel to others. Matthew 28:19
7. Commit to the work required. 1 Corinthians 15:58
8. Support the work of the church. 1 Corinthians 16:2
9. Worship with the saints. Hebrews 10:24-25
10. Want to go to heaven. Revelation 2:10
When You Leave This Local Church
We are aware of your plans to leave this local church. What’s that you say? You didn’t know that you had such plans? Yes, in fact, such plans are in place – FOR ALL OF US!! There are several ways it might happen. You might decide to move to some other location. Or, you could elect to become a member of some other area congregation. Or, although we pray that it would never happen, you might become unfaithful and fall away. If none of those scenarios develops, you WILL leave this church at the time of your death. Do you see what we mean? Every one of us, at some point, will be leaving this congregation. Now then, the question is not ‘if’, rather it is ‘when?’ And ‘when’ you leave, we wonder how folks will react to your departure. There are three possibilities:
1. Sadness: When good, faithful, active, involved, dedicated members leave our midst we are truly sad to see them go. This congregation depends on members of this sort. They are the ones who step up to teach classes, call on the sick, encourage the weak, enthusiastically support the programs of work, and generally do all they can to see to it that the church here succeeds. They constitute the real ‘backbone’ of the congregation. When we lose such people there is a sort of ‘void’ that is left behind. Usually it takes a good while to get over their departure. We really miss them.
2. Their leaving is hardly noticed: Unfortunately there are some folks that never really get involved in the local church. Oh, yes, they may attend with some regularity, but they seldom do anything more than that. Don’t expect these people to get involved in anything that requires ‘extra’ effort – they simply won’t do it. Sadly, when they leave the church, their absence is barely noticed by other members.
3. A sense of relief – almost happiness: It is truly a horrible reality, but in most churches there are members who do nothing but complain and criticize. They don’t do anything themselves, but they are always looking to disparage what others are doing (Matt. 7:1-5). They are constantly ‘tearing down’ rather than ‘building up’ their fellow Christians. When they are gone, we almost breathe a sigh of relief. How sad!
So, YOU are ultimately going to leave this church. How will your brethren react to your leaving? THINK!
If everyone in the church was like you, what kind of attendance would there be? Would visitors come and find an empty building on Wednesday nights? Do you make a habit of attending every assembly of the saints? The Hebrew writer commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25). Do you comply with this simple command? It should be a joy for Christians to get together and serve and worship God and enjoy fellowship one with another. Does worshiping God bring you pleasure? If not, you need to ask yourself why? It really is not that hard to spare four hours a week to give to God in collective worship with other saints. Do you spend more than four hours a week watching TV? If every member in the church was just like you, would there be any need to have an assembly at all?
If everyone in the church was like you, how many people would hear the gospel of Christ? God relies on His children to preach the gospel to the lost. He did not have to arrange it as such but that was His will. God chose to use earthly vessels to get His saving Word out to those who need it (2 Corinthians 4:7). When was the last time you told someone about Christ? I know some people have more opportunity to preach the gospel than others, but when an opportunity presents itself to you, are you willing to speak? We must not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). If we, as God's people, fail to take the gospel to the lost, they will perish in their sins (Romans 10:13-17). We all need to do a better job at trying to reach the lost, but there are some among us who do not try at all. Ever! How many people would be saved and added to the Lord's church if everyone in the church was just like you? How many people would hear the saving message of Jesus Christ if every member of the church was just as active or inactive as you are in reaching the lost? What if every member of the congregation was just like you?
If everyone in the church was like you, what kind of love would be in it? Do you love your brethren in Christ? This is what God expects of you. He has commanded you to do just that (1 John 4:11-21). Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you that ye also love one another" (John 13:34). This is important. There is no way that we can be what God wants us to be if we do not love one another. In fact, if we do not love one another, we cannot really say that we love God. Read the passage in 1 John again. That's exactly what John says. The local church cannot flourish without love. That's why Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to increase in brotherly love even though they already had a great deal of it (1 Thessalonians 4:10). For this church to reach its full potential brotherly love must continue. What if everyone else in the congregation had as much brotherly love as you have? Could it be said that we are a loving congregation, or would we be deficient in this area?
If everyone in the church was like you, what kind of stand for truth would the church take? Most denominational people think that doctrine is not very important. I am afraid that a lot of brethren are beginning to feel the same way. How do you feel about doctrine? Is it important to you? Do you think it is essential to stand for the truth? Remember John teaches us that abiding in the doctrine of Christ is essential to maintaining a right relationship with God (2 John 9). If everyone in the church was like you, would we be a church that cared about truth? Would we be a church that is willing to take a stand on doctrinal issues or would we be a church more likely to compromise the faith? If everyone was like you, would we be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine or would we be grounded in the truth, always ready to make a defense of the gospel? What kind of congregation would we be, if everyone was like you?
If everyone in the church was like you, what kind of contribution would the church have? As Christians we are expected to give as we have prospered on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1- 2). Financial obligations of the church are to be met by the free-will offering of saints on the first day of the week. The passage cited above reveals to us God's will on how He wants the church to raise money. There is no authority for the church to raise money in any other way. Are finances important to a church? Yes! The threefold work of the church (evangelism, benevolence and edification) can be done to a greater extent if a church is generous in its giving. If everyone in the church were like you, how much benevolent work would it do? If every Christian gave the way you give, how much evangelism would the church be able to accomplish?
If everyone in the church was like you, what kind of Bible knowledge would it possess? Believe it or not, some Christians do not particularly enjoy studying the Word of God. I once heard a Christian say that he would rather read a good novel than the Bible. Do you feel the same way? It is important that we have the ability to discern between the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of devils. John once said that we should try the spirits (1 John 4:1). That necessitates some knowledge. Paul said that we must rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). That necessitates some knowledge. Peter said that we must always be ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15). That necessitates some knowledge. Having knowledge of God's Word is important for both the individual Christian and the local church. If every member of the church had the knowledge of God's word that you have, could it be a pillar of truth? Would it be able to defend the truth against false doctrines and uphold the blessed gospel to a lost and dying world? If the whole congregation was like you, what kind of Bible knowledge would it have?
We said in the beginning that a congregation is only as strong as the people that make up its membership. A good reputation does not make a congregation strong. Godly men and women walking after the Spirit by following the divine instructions of God's Word is what makes a local church what it ought to be. If everyone at this church was just like you, what kind of church would this be? Donald Wright