This past week I received a text from a friend – “Did you hear the news – Betty White just passed away?” We texted back and forth a few times about the passing of this remarkable comedian/actress who was just weeks shy of her 100th birthday. It seems that almost everybody loved Betty. From her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show to The Golden Girls, Betty was always a hit. She lived an incredible life, working until the end. She once even remarked, “Why retire from something if you’re loving and enjoying it so much? What would I do with myself?” One of her long-time friends even referred to her as a “national treasure.”
I heard one TV commentator mention that Betty now “knows the secret.” Curious, I hopped online to see what he was talking about. It seems that before her death, Betty shared that she wasn’t “at all” afraid of passing on. “My mother had the most wonderful outlook on death,” she said. “Nobody knows. People think they do – but nobody ever knows until it happens. So growing up, whenever we’d lose somebody, my mother would always say, ‘Now they know the secret.’”
Hummm — sounds okay, but is it really true? Nobody knows “the secret” until they die? That thinking is in stark contrast to what we read in the Bible. It should be no secret what happens to us when we die. The book of I John not only gives us the amazing story of man’s salvation, but also the purpose of that particular book. I John 5:13 tells us plainly, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Thankfully, we can know for sure that we will go to Heaven when we die. The trouble seems to be that too few people seek eternal life. Matthew 7 even tells us that “those who find it are few.”
But why is that? In some ways, the trip to heaven can be a lot like a driving-trip to Cobleskill, New York. If you get in your car and just start driving willy-nilly, chances are slim to none that you will ever reach Cobleskill. A course needs to be charted in advance with a clear goal. If not, you may soon discover you’ve spent four days driving in the totally wrong direction.
Guesswork is never a good strategy! Someone once said, “The goal of getting to Heaven is worthy of greater advanced planning than we would give to any other journey – yet some people spend far more time preparing for a trip to Disney World.”
The truth is, no one automatically ends up in Heaven. Hell – not Heaven – is our default destination. Unless we deal with our sin issue, we can’t enter Heaven. There are only two possible destinations when we die: Heaven or Hell. It’s really the “almost” prose: “How painful almost to nail a job, but to miss it. How vexing almost to catch a plane, but to be left at the terminal. How sad almost to escape drowning, but to be engulfed in the water. But, oh, how above-all-things terrible to be almost a Christian and miss eternity in Heaven! For to be almost saved is to be certainly lost.” But – it’s our choice! God has never forced anyone to have a relationship with Him. It’s called ‘freewill.”
Remember the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? It first aired in 1999 and was an instant hit. If you know the show, you surely remember the “lifelines” – each contestant was allowed to use “lifelines” when they were uncertain about the answer to a question. Here are some “lifelines” that Pastor Gary Sinclair believes many people use for life’s ultimate questions:
~ 50/50: Some people hope they will make it to heaven. They think they have at least a 50/50 chance. They’re trying to do enough good things to get in.
~ Phone a friend: Some people do what their friends do, think what their friends think, and are counting on their friends to be right about ultimate truth.
~ Ask the audience: Others accept the majority view. If New Age is in, they follow it. If 60% of the country rejects the Bible, they reject the Bible.
But my “lifeline” is none other than Jesus Christ, and as the great hymn writer Fanny Crosby wrote in 1873: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!” Couldn’t say it better myself!
Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, CA. For more information, you can contact them at DPCityChurch.org.
Susan Beckett | The Dwelling Place City Church
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