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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Are You Going to Heaven?

The subject of Heaven can be a delicate one sometimes, especially when the discussion gets down to actually going there. A man bumped into an old friend he hadn't seen for years. After exchanging hellos, he asked his friend, "How's your wife?" The friend replied, "She's in Heaven." The first man blurted out, "Oh, I'm sorry." He immediately realized that wasn't the right thing to say, so he added, "I mean, I'm glad." That sounded even worse, so finally he came out with, "Well, I'm surprised." How do you feel about Heaven and your prospects of going there? Polls indicate most people believe in and are confident of going to Heaven. Randy Alcorn writes in his book, Heaven, "For every American who believes he's going to hell, there are 120 who believe they're going to Heaven" (p 23). Alcorn goes on to note, "This optimism stands in contrast to Christ's words in Matthew 7:13-14: 'Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it' (NIV)." Alcorn points out that the great danger is that people will assume they are headed for Heaven when Jesus clearly stated most people are not going. A 2005 edition of the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes (Wednesday, April 30, 2005) reflected the ambivalence many Americans feel about Heaven. On the program Dan Rather interviewed Jack Welch, the outspoken former CEO of General Electric. As the interview ended, Rather asked Welch, "What the toughest question you've ever been asked?" Welch replied, "Do you think you'll go to heaven?" Rather followed up and asked him how he answered that question. Welch said, "It's a long answer, but I said that if caring about people, if giving it your all, if being a great friend counts. . . . I haven't done everything right all the time. I think I've got a shot. I'm in no hurry to get there and fmd out any time soon." Welch wants to go to Heaven, but not now, and he thinks he has to wait till he dies to fmd out if he's going. But that's a little too late in the game to change the score! He reminds us that Americans have lots of ideas about Heaven, but with little or no reference to Christ and the Bible. People create personal belief systems by cutting and pasting various views from a variety of different sources including TV, movies, and listening to celebrities or friends. The end product, according to Alcorn, is "a highly subjective theology of the afterlife, disconnected from the Biblical doctrine of Heaven" (p 9).

We should all want to go to Heaven. But Jesus Himself, smack dab in the middle of a discourse about Heaven and how to get there, said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). Again, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). As has been said, "Everybody talkie' `bout Heaven ain't goin' there." We need a desire to go to Heaven, but we must also be willing to do what the Lord directs us to do in His Word. Now, are you sure you're going to Heaven?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ