“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” John 5:24 (New Living Translation)
“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.” (The Message)
I sat beside a dear friend today at Bible study and listened as she entertained the big IF.
You know it. You’ve heard it before. You may have even spoken it aloud, like my friend has, more than once. The big IF doesn’t discriminate based on denomination or age or the number of church activities you participate in. It doesn’t take into account how many times you’ve read through the Bible from cover to cover. It doesn’t care how many scripture verses you know by heart.
No, the big IF makes itself available to everyone who has ever doubted that what they’ve said and done can be forgiven by a just and righteous God.
The big IF, despite its many variations, usually sounds something like this:
“IF I go to heaven when I die.”
If ever there was a time to take Jesus literally, that time is today and these are those words.
Salvation is not a crap shoot and heaven is no lottery jackpot, yet we continue to play the game (if you were to die tonight – as the age-old evangelism hook goes – would you go to heaven?).
With words as clear and firm as these, spoken by Jesus, why in the world do people still sit in our pews and around the tables in our fellowship halls, allowing for the big IF? Don’t they know that Jesus came, not to condemn them, but to love and save them from their sinful selves? Don’t the spiritual leaders in their midst speak this truth – Jesus’ own words – over them in their shame-filled, doubt-ridden existence?
Whose responsibility is it to point out to those who listen to Jesus’ teachings and believe in the one, true God that eternal life is theirs ALREADY? There really is no excuse, church (shame on us!) for allowing the big IF to infiltrate the ranks of the redeemed. Every day that the great deceiver is allowed to taunt our brothers and sisters by dangling heaven in front of their imperfect lives is a day that the Body of Christ is caught taking a nap on the sofa. It’s time to wake up and crush the enemy, people. It’s time to get literal with the big IF.
If you listen to Jesus’ message,
If you believe in the God Who sent His Son to live among us AS one of us,
YOU WILL NEVER BE CONDEMNED FOR YOUR SINS!
YOU HAVE ALREADY PASSED FROM DEATH INTO LIFE!
There is no IF I go to heaven about it, because your open heart and belief in God have already marked your entrance into eternity.
If we aren’t sure that God is saving a place for us in heaven, the problem isn’t that we haven’t done enough or said enough or jumped through the proper hoops in the prescribed order… the problem is that we aren’t taking Jesus seriously.
If we live our lives in a state of perpetual timidity, tentative and failing to embrace our Kingdom standing, how then can our lives bear the fruit they were designed to produce?
Believe the words of Jesus!
Align yourself with God!
Take a giant step away from the big IF and into the land of the living!
It’s high time we stop tip-toeing around the big IF and instead choose to live boldly into the reality of our eternal life, armed with nothing less than the assurances of Jesus Himself.