Here's a fitting post for a Sunday. You may not have attended a sermon this morning, but I'm preachin' it tonight!
Though I realize that they don't truly depict an accurate picture, I like reading statistics. I know that data can be manipulated to support nearly anything. I know that questions can be worded in such a way to yield the desired outcome. And I know what Mark Twain thought about them. But, whatever, I like statistics.
I read one that surprised me today. I don't recall the exact number, but the stat basically stated that an overwhelming majority (well over 70%) of Americans consider themselves Christians. I marvel at this information and I'm nearly certain that this number is ridiculously high. Call my a cynic, but I don't think that most people even know what being a "Christian" means. In my experience, most people can't even explain the basics of the religion.
Think I'm kidding? Ask a self-professed Christian how they know that they're going to Heaven and see for yourself. When I've done so, I've received some shocking answers. These answers are particularly found in non-churched Christians, but I've heard the same from active church members as well.
How do they answer that they know they'll go to Heaven?
- "I've lived a good life."
- "I'm a good person."
- "I try to be a good Christian."
- "I tithe to the church."
Interestingly enough, I have rarely heard anyone mention Jesus. I've rarely heard anyone mention His work on the cross. I've rarely heard anyone just say they're going to Heaven because of their faith in Christ.
I'm going to state this plainly: Your salvation has absolutely nothing to do with you! It's not about you! You cannot buy your way into Heaven through your good deeds, your kind heart, your nice intentions, or your abundant money supply.
If you think your entrance to Heaven has anything to do with anything besides your faith and trust in Jesus, you don't understand the message of the Gospel. Salvation is the easiest thing in the world to attain because it's already done. It is finished - Jesus said it Himself. John 3:16 boils it all down in one sentence that is so simple that even a child can understand. All you have to do is accept Christ in your heart.
Prior to becoming a Christian, I would have given two of the four answers found above. I didn't convert to Christianity until I was in my mid-20s and, even after my conversion, I struggled with plain faith. I know that it's difficult for an adult to have the faith of a child, but that's really and truly all that's required. Salvation is a free gift. . .one that cost one man everything he had - his life.
So, if you identify yourself as a Christian, how do you know that you're going to Heaven???