A diagnostic direction

Published 9:20 pm Friday, April 3, 2009

Louise and I have a brilliant internist for our primary care physician. When we ask her for help relating to some physical problem, the first thing she will do is take steps toward a correct diagnosis. Then she pursues the appropriate treatment.

Several years ago my wife endured several weeks of unnecessary pain because of another doctor’s guess work. Finally, after a diagnostic test, she received the procedure that relieved her pain and restored the pleasure of normalcy. In the medical field diagnostic tests can reveal what your problem is or what your problem isn’t. Either result can be very helpful.

In the realm of our soul, spiritually speaking, a correct diagnosis of a person’s condition is necessary for the right remedy. Two diagnostic questions can become very helpful. The first question is, “Are you certain that if you were to die today that you would go to heaven?” Your answer to that question will probably be either “I hope so,” “No,” “I don’t think a person can know” or “Yes.”

The simple truth is, it’s possible to know for certain that death will mean heaven for you. The Bible says, “I write these things to you who believe on the Name of the Son of God

so you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). The second diagnostic question is, “If you had to stand before God today and he asked you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would your answer be?” Some would answer something about how they have lived, treated others, observed religious traditions, etc. Some would say that they do not have an answer. Then others would have God’s only acceptable answer.

Allow me to summarize the simple truth concerning five things you must understand before you can be sure that death will mean heaven for you.

First, heaven is a free gift and can never be earned nor deserved. Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life” (John 10:28). The Bible says, “The gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). We read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace that you have been saved…and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so no person can boast.” Once the Disciples asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “With man this is impossible” (Mark 10:25-27).

Second, each person is guilty of sinning and is separated from God until or unless the person becomes saved (born again). The Bible says, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fallen short” (Romans 3:22-23). Then in Romans 6:23 God says, “The wages of sin is separation from God.” This means now and for always unless a person becomes saved.

Third, God is holy and just and therefore he must punish sin; yet God is love and does not desire that you spend your life and eternity separated from him. God is a God of wrath against sin. The Bible says that a part of being saved is to be rescued “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10), rescued from perishing (2 Peter 3:9) and to no longer have “the wrath of God remaining upon you” (John 3:36). But God desires to be a God of love to us. “God is love” (1 John 4:10). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).

Fourth, you must understand two things about Jesus: who He was and why and why he came. Jesus was no less than God in human flesh, the perfect and sinless Son of God (John 1:1-2). Why did He come? He came among us to live the perfect and sinless life and then to willingly go to the cross to take our place, bear all of our sins and to offer himself as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. He suffered on that cross for us until He could say, “It is finished (paid in full)” (John 19:20). He purchased the gift of eternal life for you by his death (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Fifth, you can only receive this gift of eternal life (heaven) by faith in Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to believe the facts about Jesus or to trust him for physical or material things. To receive the gift of eternal life, you must no longer depend upon whatever you ever thought might get you to heaven but place your trust upon Jesus Christ, alone and only, for the gift of eternal life. You must not only trust Jesus Christ to save you but you must trust him as Lord, relinquishing the control of your life to him. This is the meaning of Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

Have you received that gift of eternal life that the Lord Jesus purchased on his cross and offers as a free gift to you? Choose Jesus Christ and the certainty of heaven today. It is not “too good to be true,” just simple truth.

–Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for the Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Saturday.