Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 7, 2005


The People I Want to See When I Get to Heaven


          Is it possible to be certain you are going to heaven? I think so. I am convinced I am going to heaven. Is that arrogant? I don’t think so. The most famous verse in the Bible explains why.

          That verse is John 3:16. Remember how it goes? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

          I do not believe I am going to heaven because I am good enough. I am not worthy of heaven. But going to heaven is not a matter of being good. The gates of heaven swing open not because you are good but because you “believe in” the Son, Jesus.

          Any person may choose to be “whoever.” To “believe in” means to trust. To trust Jesus is to accept the claims he made for himself – to believe that he was telling the truth. He said, among other things, that he was the Door, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the True Vine, the Good Shepherd, the Water of Life, the Resurrection, the Light of the World, and the Bread of Life.

          Those are extraordinary claims for a person to make. Try to imagine that you and I go to the Kiwanis Club meeting in Opelika. We sit down at one of the tables and begin eating. Soon a stranger comes to our table. We introduce ourselves to him and he says quietly, “My name is Joe Schmo, and I am the Light of the World.” How would we react?

          Right! We would be thinking, “This guy is a screwball, an escapee from the funny farm!” We might even move to another table. At the very least an uneasy silence would settle upon us all. Certainly none of us would go back to the office and tell someone we just had lunch with “the Light of the World.” More than likely we would say. “You should have seen the nut who sat at our table today!”

          You see, Jesus was either crazy or he was whom he said he was. If he was insane, then nonbelievers have nothing to worry about. However, if he was indeed the Door, then we had better find a way to walk through that Door. If Jesus spoke the truth about himself, then nothing matters more than that we believe in him.

          Back to John 3:16. The alternative to believing in Jesus is to “perish.” That means to die, to give up the ghost, or to pass away. Wait a minute! Is Jesus pulling my leg? Everyone is going to die. This sounds like doubletalk.

          Look at his statement again. Those who believe in the Son will not perish because they will “have everlasting life.” If Jesus was speaking the truth, then those who believe will receive the gift of “eternal life. “  Those who refuse to believe will die and miss everlasting life. We will all experience the death of the body but only believers will live eternally in heaven.

          Why does God offer us this gift that the church calls “salvation”? Back to the verse again. Love explains it all – “God so loved the world.” He loved us all so much that he “gave” his Son. Gave him for what? He gave him to die upon the cross for our sins so that our sins might be forgiven. That is what the cross was all about – forgiveness. Allowing his son to die on the cross was God’s way of saying to the world: “You are forgiven.”

          To trust Jesus, or believe in him, is to accept God’s offer of forgiveness. We can never deserve it. That is why it is called grace; it is undeserved. God’s only requirement is that we accept his love with a repentant heart. Without a repentant spirit we can never receive forgiveness. It is available only to those who feel they do not deserve it.

          That is why I believe I am going to heaven. I know I am unworthy but I have chosen to believe in the Son and accept God’s unbelievable offer of everlasting life.

          When I get to heaven I plan to spend the first thousand years gazing into the face of the Son. All the questions I have for him will be forgotten as I admire the face of the man who died for me. Then I want to get acquainted with Peter, Paul, and the other apostles. After that I will visit with my son, my Dad and Mom, my sister, and others whose memory is precious to me. I look forward to meeting my wife’s dad for the first time.

          Then I will look up all the people who influenced me and encouraged me to believe in the Son. I especially want to thank the Sunday school teachers who first taught me that Jesus was my friend. In heaven I will know their names. Without their loving patience I might never have believed in the Son when I became a man.

Heaven is on my mind more than ever now that I am an old man. I think about it a lot, especially when I read about our fine, young soldiers dying overseas. I grieve for their families and I hope they will see each other again in heaven one day. Thank God that option is open for whoever believes in the Son. + + + +