We once employed the services of a protocol officer who assisted employees in our organization with processing our international travels. However, he had never travelled outside his country of origin. This guy was very good at his job. When you tell him you want to travel to a particular country, he would immediately reel off all the visa requirements for that country. Sometimes, he would even tell you the best route to fly, possible challenges you may encounter, and the peculiarities of the people of that country. One day I was so impressed by his depth of knowledge that I asked him which countries he had visited. His response was “sir, forget that thing; this is my work”.
As I pondered about this protocol guy recently, I realized he seemed to demonstrate a trend in Christendom today. Many so called Christians are like this protocol officer; they can tell you details about heaven but they may never get there. This is because they may have discussed their understanding of the visa requirements to heaven with others, but they have never really met the requirements themselves.
Some decades ago, it was common for believers to show a movie titled “burning hell” as a tool for evangelism. That movie tries to depict the horrors of hell and if you ever watched that movie, you may “give your life to Christ” about 10 times in 10 minutes. In many cases after the movie is shown, what we call “altar call” was made, and without any knowledge of the gospel, many responded to the call. If the fear of what was seen in a movie is the only motivation for seeking salvation, we miss out on the real offer of God’s gift of eternal life through Christ.
There was also another trend where God was described as an angry God that was bringing judgment upon all those who were not believers, and this fear made many to recite some prayers after a preacher. But that is not the visa to heaven. Some preachers even went further to describe all the terrible sins that people commit and after their message, they ask – if you want to repent from these sins, come out and say “this prayer” after me. But beloved, repentance and salvation are two different things. You can repent from an evil way and not be saved, the same way a chronic murderer can decide to quit murder, but that doesn’t make him a believer. Although repentance is expected to be visible in your life after salvation.
So what is salvation – the only visa to heaven, and how do you obtain it?
You come to a loving God through his son – Jesus Christ; you appreciate that salvation is a gift from God and not something you attain by any good works; You openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). Thus, you instantly receive the gift of God’s life and Holy Spirit in your spirit. It is “faith alone by grace alone, in Christ alone” that qualifies you for heaven. If this does not correspond with your salvation experience, please take time to make things right today, so you are not disappointed on the day of rapture. Jesus’ offer of eternal life is to be received with gratitude for His love, and there is no fear in love.