Friday, January 08, 2010


What an important question! After all—if we miss heaven, we have missed everything. It would have been better not to have been born. The good news that we’ve been sharing all week (that is the meaning of the term Gospel) assures us that we can know for sure that we are going to heaven.

As Paul begins to follow this theme in the book of Romans, he lays out the foundation of faith that will stand the test of time—and eternity—in the first chapter, verses two through four. He writes, “which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

This is not mere religious speculation or wishful thinking. It is a message we can be sure of because it is rooted in the promises of God. “He promised,” the Apostle emphatically declares. God is faithful. He cannot lie. What He promises, He performs. We can be sure of heaven not only because the message is rooted in the promises of God, but because it is revealed through the prophets of God: “through His prophets.” This wasn’t a novelty. It wasn’t an afterthought of God. It wasn’t a back-up plan when the first one didn’t work and man fell into sin. Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. From Gen.3:15 and the promised seed of woman that would crush the serpent’s head to Mal.4:5-6 and the prophecy of the herald, John the Baptist, who would come to announce Christ’s coming, the Old Testament has well over 300 prophecies of Christ. The Old Testament is full of the Gospel!

It is instructive that Paul doesn’t just appeal to his experience of salvation—powerful and appropriate as that is—but validates it with the Scripture. When we consider our experience of salvation, are we relying only on the past experience or are we leaning on the eternal Word? If you were to ask me today, “Pastor, are you sure you are going to heaven?” I would answer yes—but not based on an experience or decision or good works that I do now. I could say that my hope of heaven rests in the promises of God to me. His Word has said, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom.10:13) That’s good enough for me!

This salvation centers in the person of Jesus Christ. The Christian message is unique from any religion for it centers in a unique Person—Jesus! Brit Hume, commentator for Fox News, recently stirred up a hornet’s nest by suggesting that Tiger Woods needed Christ, for only Christianity offered the redemption and forgiveness that the adulterous golfer (and all of the rest of us sinners) required. He was dead on target!

In Buddhism and Confucianism, it is the teaching, not the teacher that matters. Remove Buddha and Confuscious and the religion remains. Even in Islam, as important as Mohammed is, he is not Allah. The five pillars of Islam and the teachings of the Koran are the main thing. But, if you take Christ from Christianity you take out its heart! Salvation is in a Person and Paul declares that person to be of the Seed of David. That is His Incarnation (v.3) “according to the flesh.” Jesus was a real man. He was conceived of the Spirit in the womb of a virgin. He was legally and biologically of David’s line—in fulfillment of the covenant. But Christ is also the Son of God. That is His Resurrection (v.4) “according to the Spirit of holiness.” He was always God from eternity—the second person of the Trinity, but He was “declared” to be the Son of God in His resurrection.

What are the implications? “[God] has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) Will you be ready to stand before Him? You can be—and you can know for certain!

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