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Heaven

Heaven

Today we will talk about Heaven. If you have a Bible with you, I invite you to turn with me to John, the 14th chapter and we're going to look together in verse 6. If you have one of those Bibles that puts the words of Jesus in red letters, you're going to see red letters here because this says,

"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." 

Every once in a while, I will hear a mother say to her family, what are you hungry for? I never heard those words growing up, alright? My mom would make salmon croquettes with onions, she would slap it on my plate and she'd say eat it, there are kids in China who don't have anything to eat. If it was tuna casserole, we ate tuna casserole. 

If it was meatloaf, we ate meatloaf. Now my mom was a great cook, but I didn't have any choice. And I remember going off to college it was pretty much the same, when I went to college many years ago is that the word would seep out during the day what was being served, there weren't choices, it was what was being served. 

It was either chicken, or whatever it might be, and we could either get excited, or not look forward to dinner, but we didn't have a choice. You go to almost any college campus today, and they have the Italian station, and you go have fresh pasta made, and you pick the ingredients you want in it, or you can go to the fast food station, you can have hamburgers, or you can have hot dogs, your choice, or fries for breakfast if you want to. 

Lots of choices. When I went to college many years ago, I remember the little town that I was in, I had two radio stations. Two choices, one was Country Western, the other was Disco, that was a long decade, all right? And some of you are old enough to remember when we only had three choices, I mean three major choices when it came to television, remember three channels; 

ABC, NBC, or CBS, and that was it. Now you can choose which one of the food channels you want to watch, or you can look at one of five ESPN channels, and then you don't like those, you can go to Fox Sports. Lots of choices today and people want those same kind of choices unfortunately when it comes to religion. 

They like to step up to a religious buffet, and just pick the things that they are hungry for, that wet their appetites. Love and mercy, I'll have two helpings of that. Confession and sacrifice, no thank you, I'm trying to quit that. Power to be successful in life, oh yes, I'll make room on my plate. Confession, accountability, no thank you. And what we have is, we have a kind of pick and choose, put your own together type of atmosphere today, and it's in that atmosphere that we hear Jesus Christ say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." One of the popular religions is the Bahai religion and Bahai religions has a symbol of a star with nine points on it, and those nine points represent what they would say would be the nine different manifestations of God. 

Buddha is on there, and Mohammed is on there, Moses is on there, and they also include Jesus Christ, as well as others. Please hear this today, you can accept Jesus if you choose.

You can reject Jesus if you choose. What you cannot do is to assimilate him into your religious smorgasbord. He will not allow that. 

He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Notice the definite article, He didn't say, I was a way to God, He didn't say I'm a version of truth, He didn't say I'm a one of many options to give you life, He says, I'm the way the truth, and the light. He's either a liar or He is the God of the universe who has come to live, and lay down His life for us. 

What happens when you die

One or two, nothing in between. The great theologian Oprah Winfrey once said, "The biggest mistake we make is to believe that there is only one way." She said, "There are many diverse paths leading to God." One of these days you're going to close your eyes for the very last time and I will too. And when I open my eyes I guarantee you, the first person I'm not going to see is Oprah Winfrey, the person I'm going to see, that you're going to see is Jesus Christ, and it's what He believes about the way to this afterlife, the way to heaven, 

that really counts in this life, not anybody else's opinion in this world. During World War II, they had a disinformation campaign and a part of what gave us victory during World War II is that, we were putting out intel but it was the wrong intel, while our enemy, the evil one has the same strategy, he is putting out a lot of information but it's wrong information. 

And it's an information that says that there's a new tolerance and this new tolerance says that you can't declare anybody as being wrong. The new tolerance says that all beliefs are equal and you cannot question and you cannot challenge. In second Timothy, it says this, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." 

Here's what we know today, is that that day has come about, that today in the age group of 65 and older, only 50% believe that there's anything that's called absolute truth, and in the age group of 18 to 34 only 20% believe in absolute truth. We're living in the very time that 2 Timothy 4, verses 3 and 4 talked about. 

And in the midst of that age, Jesus makes a statement that was even radical the first time that He said it. He said, I am the way. Jesus is saying to us that there are times when it's good to be narrow minded. It's necessary to be precise. I'm never offended when I type in an address to my GPS and it gives me specific instructions. 

I would be a little disappointed if I was trying to get from point A to point B, there was particular place that I wanted to ride, and Linda, my GPS said, whatever! You see, all roads do not lead to heaven any more than all roads lead to Canada. It really does matter what road that you are on.

In Matthew the seventh chapter, verse 13 it says this, it says "Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it, for the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." 

Hell

The Bible says that there are not many ways, there are two ways, and one of those ways leads to separation from God and destruction. And the other way leads to life everlasting, not just that goes on forever, but a quality of life that is called everlasting. Some would protest today and they would say, well, I don't believe a loving God would send anyone to hell. 

You know what? I agree with you, I believe that. I believe that if you go to hell you're a trespasser, that God never intended. At the end day God will say, come inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. If you go elsewhere, you go as a trespasser. God has made everything possible for you to be reunited with Him in this life. 

Jesus died to pay for your sins and to give you eternal life in Heaven with God

He's given His only Son to die a terrible death so that you could have life, and He's made it clear to us who God is through the Son. Next time you see a cross, think about the fact that Jesus died on that cross, and before He died on that cross and before a spear was pierced into His side, they beat Him about the head. 

They put a crown of thorns on Him and they whipped His back until it looked like a plowed field. They spat on Him and they plucked His beard, and He did all that so that you can have a way to heaven, that I could have a way to heaven, but the greatest suffering of our Lord was not the physical torture that He went through, but the fact that He took upon Himself your sin and my sin, and felt all the weight of the guilt and the shame of that, that's what He did so that you could have a way. 

The way to Heaven

God's made it possible for you to be reunited with God and to have a way to heaven and to say that there is another way is an insult to what Christ did for you and I. If there was any other way that you and I could be made right with God then Jesus would have never had to go to the cross. When Jesus knelt in that garden for you, He prayed, "Father, if it will be possible, let this cup pass for me. If there is any other way for these people to be saved, don't let me go through this," and then He said, "Never the less, not my will, but Your will be done," and He drank every drop of that cup for you and for me. 

You're here today as apart of God's plan to let you know that there's a way, that you don't have to run from God, you don't have to be afraid of God. Jesus Christ declares Himself not only to be the way but He declares himself to be the truth. And first of all, He's the truth about God. Wondering what God's like? 

Then read the books Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. When you get finished, read them again. And when you see the very life of Jesus Christ, you're going to see what God is like. The Pope has been in our country this week and there's been a lot of news coverage of it, and one of the things that they are so impressed by is his accessibility. Friends, the God of universe was accessible in Jesus Christ. 

When Jesus was there and the little children wanted to come to him, they said, oh no, Jesus is too important and they wanted to push Him away and He said, "Set for the little children to come to Me, for such is the Kingdom of God." You want to know what God is like, they're about a stone a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery and He pushes them away and He says, "Let the person without sin cast the first stone and He kneels down with that sinner in the dirt and He says, "Go and sin no more." 

There's hope, there's life, things can be different, that is who God is and I don't know who you've created in your mind that you're running from but it's not the God revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the way back to God, He's also the truth about God and you know what He's the truth about ourselves. We all have a tendency to compare ourselves with someone who's better than we are or someone who's worse than we are and when we compare ourselves to someone who's better than we are, we feel dejected, we feel defeated, we feel shame, we feel like we can never measure up, and yet, when we compare ourselves and this is our tendency by the way, to compare ourselves with someone worse than we are, we say, at least I'm not like him or at least I'm not like her, what happens is we become satisfied and we become prideful. 

Forgiveness

It's only as we look into the eyes of Jesus Christ that we see who we are not and who we can be, that we embrace with freedom, our faults and we see in comparison to Christ that we are sinners, that we fall short of the glory of God, but in that same time in the eyes of His forgiveness, we see that it doesn't have to stay that way that, that same Jesus wants to come into our life, and He wants to empower us to be different, and everyday to be more like Him by His power. 

Jesus is the way back to God, but He is also the truth about God, and He is the truth about ourselves, and Jesus is life Himself. In Proverbs, the 14th chapter, it says this, "There's is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."

Is there an afterlife?


Several years ago we traveled to Las Vegas, interestingly enough called Sin City, and we asked people about what they believed about the afterlife. I don't believe in the afterlife but, no, I don't believe in the afterlife. 

I think they get reincarnated, and come back as a follower. 

I think they go to Heaven. 


You're going on to a better 
place, and going on to be with everyone else that you've been with, and all the loved ones in your life. 

They're going to heaven or hell. 

That we float on the cloud with 
all the people that we were on Earth with before that we loved. 

Probably 
go someplace better than here. 

They turn into spirits, and walk around, 
I think. 

Nothing pretty much, they just turn into dirt, that's about it. 


Where do they go? 
Reincarnation. 

Okay, I did not got enough sleep last night for that question. 

I don't know actually, I'm thinking 
that there might be some sort of purgatory, something in between heaven and hell. 

I don't know, my opinion changes. 
 I think that their spirit is released and goes to heaven. 

Nothing, they turn to ashes. 


I think it 
depends because you could either, it depends on where your soul goes. 

I think some people get stuck here on Earth, their spirits, depending on what kind of a person you are on the inside. 

I think they just 
disappear, there's like no heaven or hell. They are just gone. 

I have to say, if I 
were to dig deep down, I have to believe that we end up in a somewhere, I want to say it's better, yeah, there's got to be a better place, I've got to be optimistic here, I've got to say a better place. 

In a mortal life, behave, be good to others, do unto others. 

Not be a politician and 
I don't know, just be a good person. 

I would say if you 
kill somebody, you're probably going to hell, if you're good in the later part of your life, you'll go to heaven. 

Just in the later part though? 


Yes, yes. Make up for your young age. 
 

But finish strong is what 
you're saying, is that it? 

Yes, yes, yes, exactly! That's 
what I'm saying.

Heaven


There is a place called heaven and there is a God, that's the question. I think that we need to try to live, I guess, the best path, I guess in this sense the most positive path, that we can and goes with the Bible, I guess, I mean if we're talking about a Catholic God and Christian God, I know there is different gods out there, but just be the best person you can.

Believe in 
God and not necesarily pray, but have a belief and ask for His forgiveness if you do something you think is wrong. 

I don't believe in God, I don't believe in hell.

So you 
don't know then? 


Lead a reasonably 

good life here.

Treat others 
the way you would want to be treated.

Be nice, 
be kind and do as good as they can do in life.


If you 

believe in heaven, there has to be a God, if there is a God then you have to make peace with God or if you don't then He's not going to know you because He is your father. 

If you don't have a relationship with Him, then He basically is going to like forsake you and say I don't know you, and that way you're going to go to hell. 


Seems to be a little 

confusion there. I don't want you to be confused. I believe that you're here today for a reason and I believe that you can know the way back to God and you can receive that way. 

Salvation


The way is not believing in certain things in your head, it's not behaving in a certain way, it's about entering into a unique relationship that you have with Jesus Christ that you don't have with anyone else. Those of you who have been around here for a while, you know that one of my favorite scriptures comes from Romans, the third chapter, or rather sixth chapter, verse 23 that says this, it says

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

To understand this verse is, first of all to understand this word right here, and it's the word sin and that's the key there, because the key is that middle letter, the letter 'I' because that's what sin is. Sin is not the things we do, a list of bad things. It's when I am going to be in control of my own life instead of allowing God to have His rightful place as my creator to be in charge of my life, and when we do that, we do bad things, and the Bible says that the wages are the results of me running my own life is death, and anytime you see the word death in the Bible, you can just substitute the word separation, because to die means to be separated. 

What happens when I die?


If you die physically, your physical body is separated from your real self. Have you been to a funeral lately? You look into a casket, it does not look like the person is asleep, it looks like they're dead. There's a difference, and the reason that they are so lifeless is because the real them has been separated from their body, that's called physical death. 

Remember when Adam and Eve were in the garden and they were told that the day you disobey and you step outside of God's will, on that day, you will surely die. But they didn't die physically that day, they died spiritually which is worse than physical death because they were thrown out of the garden where they had walked with God. 

There was a spiritual separation. The Bible says, the result of you and I being the God of our own life is that we're separated from God. Now if I were going to draw that today, I could draw it like this. I could put God over here and I could put you or me over here. And what this scripture is saying is that, when we decide to be our own god instead of allowing God to be our God is that we push Him out of our life, and here's a God that created us, a God who knows what's best for us, a God who wants to guide us through our life and a God who wants to take us to heaven one day when we die, but we've pushed Him out, it's not that He pushed us out. 

It's that we pushed Him out of our life, not a very smart move. And so the question becomes, how do those of us who are separated from God, how do we get back over together with God, where God is once again in partnership with us, not only when we die one day, but I think as equally important is while we live on this earth. 

Now some people say, well, I know what to do, is you just do a lot of good things. You just start racking up good deeds and if your good deeds out weigh your bad deeds, then you will make it across that way. Does that bridge reach all the way across there? No, it doesn't and the reason it doesn't is, no where in the Bible does it say that at the end of all of life, God is going to look at all your bad deeds and all of your good deeds, 

and if your bad deeds out weigh your good deeds then you're going to go to hell and if your good deeds out weigh your bad deeds, you're going to go to heaven. I mean, that's what we think, but that's not in the Bible. And most of the people in the video, that was their version of how to get to heaven. Be nice, do good things for others, and God wants us to do good things for others, but He knows we really can't accomplish that apart from a partnership with Him. 

Doing good things does not get us back to God


.Now I could try to draw bridges all day long that reach across there, but none of the things that we could do to try to reach God reach all across, but there is a bridge that God has already built, and it's kind of a funny shaped bridge, but I think you'll recognize it, and it is the cross of Jesus Christ, because in the scripture it says that the result of me running my own life is that I'm separated from God. 

I'm spiritually dead, but God wants to give me a gift, not something I earned, but something He gives, and that gift is eternal life. Now death is separation from God that eternal life is living the rest of my life and into the afterlife in partnership with God. Now, if I may say so, I think that's a brilliant piece of art. 

But more importantly, what does it mean to cross from this side over to this side, what does it really mean to do that? It is right here in the Scripture, it says that we've got to accept Jesus, we've got to accept Him in two different ways. One is, we've got to accept Him as Christ. Do you realize that Jesus's last name was not Christ, it was not Joseph and Mary Christ and their son Jesus Christ, but everybody called Him Jesus, the Christ, why is that? 

It's because that's the role that He played. He became known as the Christ. It might shock you but when I was born, my mom and dad did not name me Pastor Steve. And yet, that's pretty much what everybody around here calls me, Pastor Steve, that's because of the role that I've played for the last 35 years. 

Salvation

In the same way Jesus Christ came as the Christ, the word Christ literally means the anointed one sent from God, the special one, the unique one that did something that nobody else did. What did He do? He died on the cross to pay for your sin and for mine. You see the punishment for being the God of our own life and we've all been there is that, we would have to stay separated from God for eternity unless somebody else paid the price. 

And that's what the Christ came to do. Have you accepted Him as your Christ, have you said thank you for what you did on the cross for me? It means, first of all you have to admit you are a sinner. You have to admit you've been in charge of your own life, but then you have to turn and say, God, I know there's nothing I can do to get me to heaven. I accept your free gift, please be my Christ. Now the second part of that is even easier to understand and that's this concept of Him being Lord because Lord simply means that He's the boss of your life. If you cross over this bridge because of the sacrifice that Jesus paid for you and you enter into a partnership with God, guess who the senior partner is? And it's not to go across the bridge and say, okay God, 

I'm going to turn over a new leaf, I'm never going to do anything bad again. You can't make that promise. But what you can do is say, God, that's not how I want to live anymore, and I'm going to ask you to begin to change me, begin to make me more like Jesus everyday, and you have every right to mess with my life, and to mess with my finances, and mess with relationship, and mess with my ethics. You are the authority in my life and even though I don't understand it, and even though I don't agree with the PC of this world, I will make you the Lord, you the boss, not my friends and not the latest craze that's going around. 

And here's my question for you today, have you crossed that bridge? Have you move from this side being the god of your own life to this side acknowledging that He has every right? Have you accepted the gift that He provided on the cross? Didn't ask you if you know the story, everybody knows the story. See that is the problem today in America that we've almost been vaccinated from the real thing because of what we know in our head. 

The Bible says, by their fruits, you will know them. Somebody crosses the bridge, there is a change in their life. And they're not perfect, but things begin to change because they've yielded themselves to God. It's like a difference between being dating somebody and being married to them. What's the difference by the way in dating someone and being married to them? 

That's right, it's commitment. It's when you enter into a unique relationship you don't have with anybody else and that's what happens when you cross that bridge, as you enter into a unique relationship that you have only with Christ where you're trusting Him and Him alone to get you to heaven, not on the basis of what you do, but what He did. 

And that you've entered into a unique relationship that you don't have with anybody else but Jesus that says you are the boss of my life and friends, it will change your life. One of the things that it will do, it will cause you to be an extremely grateful person and a humble person, and a person who extends grace to others because you've accepted grace. 

Have you crossed the bridge? If you have not taken the way to God, that Jesus said, "No man goes to heaven except through me." If you haven't done that, you can do that before you leave today. Can we pray together? If you've never done that, but you know that that's where you want to be today, would you just pray a simple prayer with me? 

Prayer for forgiveness


And that the prayer really expresses the desire of your heart, the Bible says in the book of Romans, "You will be saved today." Just pray this prayer in your heart. Dear God, I know I have been in charge of my own life. Please forgive me, be my Christ. I'm going to depend upon you and you alone to provide a way to heaven. 

Thank you, I will be eternally grateful, come into my life right now, take control of my life, become the Lord of my life, I want to follow you. I know I'm not going to be perfect, but I want you to change me, in Jesus name I pray. 

Let's keep our heads bowed for 
just a moment, if you are here today or if you are online, even if you are all by yourself, I want to ask you to do something physical right now that represent a change has taken place. If you prayed that prayer, and really prayed it for very first time, and you really understood it and really mean it, would you encourage me by just lifting your hand and holding your hand up for just a moment, just lift your hand high, just hold it up, all cross the auditorium and I'm sure at home right now, dozens and dozens of hands. 

Thank you, you can put your hands down. Now I'm going to ask just the ones who raised their hand to look at me right now, everybody else, keep your heads bowed. If you just raised your hand, you said, yes, I invited Christ into my life to forgive me and take control, I want to encourage you to do the very next thing you need to do. 

It's going to be hard, it's going to be tough, and Satan will try to keep you from doing it, but I'm going to encourage you to go by the connection center and just say, I prayed that prayer today, and let us sign you up for a baptism. Some time in the next couple of months so you can invite your friends, and family to celebrate that with you. 

Baptism doesn't save you but baptism tells everybody that you're proud of what you just did, and we're commanded, all of us as new Christians to be baptized, because Jesus knows how important it is for you to go public with your faith. Guys, you're going to kill out of this thing, and you'll think, well, I'm with friends, and family. 

Friends, they'll be happy to wait for you. Go in there, it will take us about five minutes just to sign you up for baptism. Follow through, you just told Him, you want Him to control you life, the first marching orders you have is to be baptized.

Heaven

Dear Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for those who came into this room separated from you, who are leaving this room as your children. 

Help them to have the courage to follow through in their decision, in Jesus name we pray these things, Amen!

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