Again and again, I hear preachers telling mourning loved ones that this person or that is, without a doubt, in heaven because of how much he loved Jesus, how many people’s lives she touched, how strong a faith he had, or how much good she accomplished in her lifetime.
I can’t help but wonder, “Was it enough?” After all, God’s Word commands us to love the LORD God with all our heart, soul and mind; to love others as much as we love ourselves; to be holy and perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. It says our best works, in and of themselves, are like filthy and unclean rags in God’s eyes.
So, I just want to make a few things clear before I die. I might even suggest these words be read on that occasion so there is no doubt:
- I won’t be in heaven because of how much I loved Jesus; I will be in heaven because of how much Jesus loved me!
- I won’t be in heaven because of any good things I’ve done; I will be in heaven because of all the good and perfect things Jesus did for me!
- I won’t be in heaven because of all I’ve sacrificed for Jesus; I will be in heaven because of all Jesus sacrificed for me when He gave His life on the cross and paid the just penalty for my sin.
- I won’t be in heaven because I died a good death for Jesus; I will be in heaven because Jesus died a good death for me, conquered sin and death and rose again to be my ever-living Savior!
- I won’t even be in heaven because of my strong and enduring faith; I will be in heaven because Jesus gave me His Spirit at my baptism, and the Holy Spirit endured me and patiently and again and again throughout my life revealed to me my utter sinfulness but promised me forgiveness and acceptance through faith in Christ Jesus!
So, you see, I won’t be in heaven because of me – I’ve failed and come short; but I will be in heaven because of Jesus and what He has done for me – He did it all!
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” (Rom. 3:23-24).
To quote from the hymn (emphasis mine), “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,” written by Ludwig von Zinzendorf and translated by John Wesley, nearly 300 years ago, “When from the dust of death I rise to claim my mansion in the skies, e’en then, this shall be all my plea: Jesus hath lived and died for me.”