A VIEW FROM THE PULPIT JULY 31: A sure hope or I sure hope so

When facing death, it is not usually trivial concerns that weigh heavily on a person’s mind.

He lay in his hospital bed, looked up at me and said quietly, “I sure hope I am going to make it.”

Here was a man who had come close to dying a number of times, but this time was different.

“For the first time,” he told me with tears in his eyes, “I’m afraid to die.”

Somewhat surprised, because I thought I knew where he was in his faith journey, I asked him the obvious question: “Why?”

He was quiet and then with trembling voice hesitatingly spoke, “Because I’m not sure that God will accept me into heaven.  I’ve done things I’m not proud of but I’m hoping that my good deeds will push me through.”

When facing death, it is not usually trivial concerns that weigh heavily on a person’s mind. Those who in life appear confident and successful, suddenly become like helpless children before the unknown.

The most rugged individual, the most intelligent, the most acclaimed all must answer the same question: where will I spend eternity?

So, what would you say to my friend? The toughest guy, the prettiest face, the poorest person, the most powerful leader and the ordinary gal all have to stoop down and go through the same door – the door of death.

Death is a leveler. We all will die and then what?  Good question!

The truth is not one of us is good enough to make it into God’s heaven and to face the only true and living, loving and holy God.

Actually, everyone deserves separation from the presence of God. None of us deserve heaven; none of us can ever do enough good deeds to make it there.

That’s because there is not one person who is without sin.  The only way I can know where I am going after I die is if I get outside help.

There is only one who can rescue me from this hopeless situation and he did it willingly.

There is only one who can make it possible for me to enter God’s holy presence.

He gave his life so that I could have a sure hope of heaven.

At a specific time and place, a real historical person by the name of Jesus Christ actually died on a Roman cross.  He, the sinless Son of God, became sin for me – he died in my place so that I could be forgiven and accepted by God.

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

Here is a simple yet profound truth: “God so loved the world (that includes you and me), that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in Him will not perish (will not be separated eternally from the loving presence of God) but have eternal life.”

It is only when I look to this sinless one and accept by faith what he did for me on the cross that I can know where I will go after I die.

“For the wages of sin (what I deserve) is death, but the Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I’m sure glad that my entrance into heaven does not depend on my good deeds. If it did I would never make it.

That day I could assure my concerned friend, that he could know with certainty that God would accept him into heaven based on the goodness of Jesus Christ.

– Henry Klassen is senior pastor at the Gospel Chapel in Grand Forks