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"Stop trying to make it to heaven!"
1. I was shocked when I heard a preacher recently say from his pulpit, “stop trying to go to heaven!”
-Now, I understand he was trying to say that sinners cannot earn (merit) their salvation, but his application was that there is nothing you can do that affects your salvation – that you must simply and only believe in (trust) the “finished work of Jesus on the cross.”
2. He also said: “heaven is not a reward” (for your good deeds). Reward in keeping word of God by faith, Psa. 19:11, Heb. 11:6 (cf. Matt. 5:12; Heb. 10:35; Rev. 22:12).
3. Again, he said, “you cannot wash your sins away” by anything you do; The Bible says differently, Acts 22:16.
4. Doctrine of “faith only” calls upon the “finished work of Christ” as if there is nothing God expect sinners to do in order to be saved (but isn’t “believing / trusting in the finished work of Christ” doing something?!) Calvinism says:
a. You are totally depraved & cannot do anything that affects your salvation (Rom. 7:9).
b. You must have the personal righteousness of Christ imputed to you in order to be counted righteous (Faith is imputed for righteousness, Rom. 4:3, 5-8).
5. Yes, Jesus “finished” the work given Him by the Father (Jno. 17:4), & is a perfect sacrifice for sin (Heb. 2:10; 5:8).
6. God has also given sinners things to do in order to be saved! Rom. 6:17-18 (Acts 10:34-35; Jas. 2:24-26).
7. It is false to say that if one obeys in faith he is not trusting in the redemptive work of Jesus.
a. Obeying Jesus is not earning heaven, but it is most certainly “trying to make it to heaven!” on the basis of God’s grace (Lk. 17:8-10).
b. If we should “stop trying to get to heaven,” then there are other things we should also “stop trying” to do ----
I. STOP TRYING TO OBEY JESUS, Heb. 5:8-9.
-When we obey Jesus we are trusting in the redemptive work of Jesus, 5:9 (He is the source, the cause of our salvation!).
II. STOP TRYING TO “WORK OUT OUR OWN SALVATION,” Phil. 2:12-13.
-When we obey Jesus, God is working in us – we are trusting that God is working in us to accomplish His will in our lives!
III. STOP PRESSING TOWARD THE GOAL OF HEAVEN, Phil. 3:11-16.
-When we “press on” we are trusting that “Christ Jesus has also laid hold” of us (3:12), that the “prize” is before us “in Christ Jesus” (3:14).
-So, we must keep pressing toward the goal!
IV. STOP HEARING & FOLLOWING JESUS, Jno. 10:27-28 (3-5); 8:51 (12, 31-32).
-When we hear & follow the Good Shepherd we are trusting that He will save us & lead us to abundant life (10:9-11); that He secures us (10:29).
V. STOP LABORING FOR THE FOOD THAT ENDURES TO EVERLASTING LIFE, 6:26-29.
-When we “eat” the bread of heaven in faith, we are trusting that we abide & Jesus & will live forever in Him! (6:33-35, 51, 53-56)
VI. STOP EXPECTING TO REAP WHAT WE SOW, Gal. 6:7-9.
-When we “walk in the Spirit” (5:16) & crucify the flesh (5:24) we are trusting that we will inherit the kingdom of God just as He has promised (5:21).
VII. STOP WALKING IN GOOD WORKS, Eph. 2:10 (2 Cor. 5:17).
-When we live holy lives we are trusting that God approves of those who live as new creatures in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24); cf. Rev. 14:13.
VIII. STOP ENDURING THE TRIALS OF LIFE, Heb. 12:1-2 (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
-When we laid aside burdens & sin, & run the race to win, we are trusting Jesus, the author & finisher of faith! (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
-You do not suffer in vain (Gal. 3:4), so do not “cast away your confidence” – It has great reward! (Heb. 10:35)
IX. STOP SEEKING A HOMELAND, Heb. 11:13-16.
-When we live by faith we are trusting that God has prepared a city for us!
1. Heaven is the reward of the faithful – not because they earn it – but because they trust (believe) Jesus and follow (obey) Him.
a. 2 Jno. 8: Do not lose your reward. Look to yourselves (as you look to Jesus).
b. Jas. 1:12: After our faith is shown to be genuine by enduring life’s trials, the Lord will give the crown of life (reward) to those who love Him (2 Tim. 4:8).