I was visiting with an older couple just last week when the subject of death and Heaven came up. I shared with them that my son Stephen passed away in 1998, but that I believed he was with the Lord because he professed Christ as his Savior two years prior to his death. They asked how my son passed away. I replied that it was a gun accident. Without a pause I was asked:
“Do you really think your son went to Heaven?”
Well yes, I do. An accident with a gun does not void the work of Christ. But even deeper than this is another question that is on my heart. This same couple expressed upset over something that someone else said to them just a few days before. Yet without a thought they felt it was appropriate to imply my son is in hell. This is not the first time I’ve seen this. While pastoring in Lexington Tennessee I had to bury a man who – distraught – committed suicide. While standing at the casket with his dear wife a member of our Church came up and asked “Do you think he’s in Heaven or hell?” What a stupid question to ask at a stupid time! I’m sure there are many who will read this post and say “Well, suicide is self murder. You can’t ask forgiveness for self murder, so of course you go to hell if you do this.” Really? Where do you see this in Scripture. Let’s put this in perspective – are any of us pure and perfect anytime? If you stepped off a curb out into the pathway of a passing bus are you sure that you will meet your Maker perfectly clean? Are you still carrying a grudge against someone for something that happened years ago? If you die tonight doesn’t that count as a sin?
The truth is, none of us are lilly white – that’s why we desperately need Christ. If you reply “No No … I’m pure and perfect all the time” then you are guilty of the greatest of sins, the sin of self righteousness. God said of the self righteous:
Isaiah 65:2-5 (KJV) I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; 3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; 4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; 5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.
It was the self righteous Pharisees and Sadducees that turned Jesus over to crucifixion. Listen Beloved – “the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”. Salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9) not of works (Titus 3:5) lest anyone think they have any reason to boast. If you think you are going to Heaven when you die because you’re a “good person” you are sadly mistaken. You will go to Heaven – if you go – because you have “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31) and are saved.
Does this mean that Christians shouldn’t worry about morality? No, not at all. God says to the Christian:
2 Corinthians 6:17-18 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
We are to turn away from the idolatrous things of this world. The “unclean thing” in the context of this verse refers to binding to the unbeliever and their ways. We should as Christians shun idols. We should not walk in darkness. But we still are not perfect – none of us are – though Christ is.
Before you were saved you followed the ways of this world. Your tongue was worldly, your hands and feet were worldly. Now that you are saved you are called to sonship. You are not called to share GOSSIP but to share the GOSPEL. GOSSIP is perverted, the GOSPEL is pure. You should not tear down with your lips, but exhort and lift up. You should not revile, but lead others to repentance. I daresay the reason the Church has had little impact on America in recent years because of unclean use of the tongue. Are you saved by faith in Christ? Are you born again by the Spirit of God? Then heed the Apostle, who wrote:
Ephesians 4:25-32 (KJV) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Reread that last line one more time. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”. Those are great words to live by. Let’s all strive to this standard.