WHAT do you need to go to heaven?  “You must,” says Jesus, “be born again.”  That is, God must make you new.  You need to be changed from being a person who cannot love God into one who does.  Only God can make you new (John 3.1-8).   Does that mean you should wait to see if he will?  No.  Though you cannot make yourself what God wants you to be, your duty is to love God with the whole of your being.

Faith comes by hearing; by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10.10).  Hearing God’s Word is the means God uses to make you new (1 Peter 1.23).  There are activities that you can and should do.  What are they?

1 You can listen to God’s Word

What was said of unbelievers in Ezekiel’s day?  That if God had sent Ezekiel to them they would have listened (Ezekiel 3.6).  If what Jesus did among Jews had been done among unbelievers in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented (Matthew 11.21).  And the people of Nineveh, who turned to God when Jonah proclaimed to them God’s Word, put unbelieving Jews to shame (Matthew 12.41).  Unbelieving Herod heard God’s Word gladly (Mark 6.20).  And pagan Pharaoh asked Moses to pray for him (Exodus 8.28).  They are things you can do.

2 You can respect rather than reject God’s Word

What do we do?  Because we are sinful we suppress the truth (Romans 1.18, 2.8 and 2 Thessalonians  2.10).  We cannot help but do it.  The evidence that we do is seen in the fact that we fail to honour, love and obey God.  We refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.  But, as you discover that there are so many competing ideas and beliefs systems to choose from, you are at best short-sighted if you fail to look at and consider what God has done and said.

3 You can learn from events

There are three books you can read: the book of creation (what you see around you);  the book God has given (the Bible);  and the book of what happens in the world.  The third of the three we call the book of providence.  As you reflect on what happens in the world and your life your can discover that God uses them to teach you about yourself – you are flawed and frail; about himself – he is the one who can rescue and change you; and this world – it is to be replaced by a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 26.9; 2 Chronicles 33.12).

4 You can see how God changes people

From time to time you will meet or hear of a person who follows Jesus. What will you see?  That he or she is different.  Different to what they used to be, and different to others.  You can ask, How  and why?  It is because God is at work in their life.  God makes people new. (1 Peter 3.1; 4.4; Acts 9.21).  That is an important lesson you should learn.

5 You can think about how you live

It is a fact of life that we are all imperfect.  You may not at first agree.  However, when you reflect on what you think, say and do, you soon realise that it is true (Isaiah 45.2; Luke 15.16; 18.13).  We need God.

6 You can learn from the actions of others

Everyday you see what others do.  There are examples in the Bible.  (see 2 Samuel 13.22; Isaiah 48.2; Acts 8.13; 2 Timothy 3.4.  Acts 2.37-28; 1 Kings 21.29; Matthew 13.46).  Our words and deeds should prompt us to ask questions about life and its meaning.  They show us our need for God.

7 You can discover your duty

Jesus says that we are to strive to enter heaven by the narrow gate.  There is a broad road that leads to eternal misery.  And there is a narrow way that leads to heaven (Matthew 7.13-14).  As you think about what Jesus says you discover that :(1) you are helpless.  You cannot get to heaven by your own effort or wishful thinking (Romans 8.3; Galatians 3.21).  And (2) God puts alongside your duty great promises.  God tells you to circumcise your heart (Deuteronomy 10.16) and to repent and turn (Ezekiel 14.6). What does he promise?  To create a new heart within you (Deuteronomy 30..6; Ezekiel 36.26-27).  Ask him to do that for you.  Be assured those who seek him find him.

George Curry

29 September 2019