2 Corinthians 5:21

 

Your first reaction to my sermon title was: “There is only one way to Heaven.”

Jesus is the only way.  I agree with you because that is what God’s word says.

 

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

 

So how are there two ways to Heaven? Law and Grace

Jesus entered Heaven by keeping the Law.

Jesus entered Heaven not by grace but the Law.

Jesus perfectly kept the Law, He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and entered Heaven by His own blood.

Only by the blood of Jesus does anyone enter Heaven.

 

Hebrews 9:12  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

 

There are two ways to Heaven – through your own blood if you meet the qualifications or through the blood of Jesus if you will accept His sacrifice.

There are two gates that go into the Holy City.

Picture if you will, Heaven, a gigantic city enclosed by an impenetrable and unscalable wall. You can see this city from afar, and you desperately want to enter into it. Your life is a journey toward it.

 

You get out your phone and type in your present location, 666 Sinners Lane, and the destination address, 777 Golden Street .  Google gives you two options – the fastest route and a couple of alternate routes.

If you are not careful you will end up in Ligonier, Indiana (North west of Fort Wayne).

 

Maybe we should consult the Bible for directions to Heaven instead of Google, or the internet, or some church or even a preacher.

 

Back to our illustration – you can see the gigantic city of Heaven in front of you and you see two lanes headed in the right direction.

Law and Grace

You are familiar with law so you take that lane – but every mile you see an exit sign for Grace, it seems curious but you are making good time and having fun so you stay on the same road.

 

All of us – every human is in one of the lanes headed to Heaven – You are living by the Law or you are living by Grace (many who claim to be Christians are living in the Law lane because they do not understand Grace).

 

Three law codes; they apply

All human beings have been equipped with an intuitive law code “written on the heart” (Romans 2:15); every person is obligated to live by this law code.

 

Romans 2:14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15  since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

 

God gave the Israelite nation a special law code—the Mosaic Law—that applied to them from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19) to Pentecost (Acts 2). By the Jewish calculation, this OT law code contained 613 commands.

 

After Pentecost God gave a new revelation (the New Testament) containing a different law code that now applies to us, even as Christians. This New Covenant law code has over a thousand commands we are all now obligated to obey. These are the commandments to which the sign on the law gate refers.

 

The closer you travel down the Law lane you begin to see signs that read, gate closed head.

Normally our reaction to such a sign is to look for the next exit and figure out how to get to where we wanted to go.

Seth and I was traveling to visit a college and we saw – road closed ahead – Seth directed us around the closure through who knows where in the middle of Ohio but we made it in good time.

 

The further down the Law lane you begin to see warning signs:

“KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS; ESCAPE THE PENALTY. BREAK THE COMMANDMENTS; SUFFER THE PENALTY.”

 

You really don’t understand the meaning so you ignore the warning; you by pass another Grace exit. You keep traveling thinking, “I am a good person” “If God is real, if God is a God of love He wouldn’t make me suffer a penalty.”

 

What does this warning sign mean?

“KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS; ESCAPE THE PENALTY. BREAK THE COMMANDMENTS; SUFFER THE PENALTY.”

 

It means you can enter into heaven through the law gate IF you have kept ALL – 100% — of the 1,000 commandments of the law code. If you have committed one sin, broken just one commandment you must pay the penalty.

 

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

What is the punishment for being found guilty of breaking the law of God? An eternity in hell.

 

So you can enter through the law gate by keeping all the commands perfectly, all your life. You must have a lifetime of perfect obedience. That is a very scary warning sign because we know we are not perfect.

 

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 

You see the warning sign again.

“KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS; ESCAPE THE PENALTY. BREAK THE COMMANDMENTS; SUFFER THE PENALTY.”

 

You realize you are heading in the Law lane and the gate is locked; you can’t enter Heaven through the Law because you know you are a law breaker. You need to change lanes and fast.

 

Get off at the next Grace exit, but if you decide to keep going down the Law lane you will be detoured from the gate of Heaven into the pit of fire.

God doesn’t want that for you and we don’t want that for anyone either.

 

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

There is always another Grace exit you can take until you die. After death you can’t change lanes.

 

As Christians we should be living in the Grace lane but sometimes we go back and forth because we don’t understand Grace.

 

The sign on the Grace lane says: “KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS, BUT SUFFER THE PENALTY. BREAK THE COMMANDMENTS, BUT ESCAPE THE PENALTY.”

 

That doesn’t seem fair.  We talked last week how unfair Grace is – Praise God! He does not treat us as we deserve.

 

What does the Grace sign mean?

If you were sinless you still suffer the penalty. Jesus was the only sinless person (Hebrews 4:15) and He still suffered the penalty because He took our sin.  Jesus suffered a penalty equivalent to eternity in hell for everyone in the world.  He keep the commandments and suffered the penalty.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

So under Grace we sinners escape the penalty of hell. We don’t get what we deserve.  We enter Heaven by the blood of Jesus.  REJOICE!

 

Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

 

If we get in the Grace lane we will enter Heaven – not because of anything we have done but because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

Which lane are you traveling in your life?

The lane of Law which really leads to Hell because you are not perfect or the lane of Grace.

It is your choice – If you are living in the Grace lane then invite others to join you in this celebration. You don’t want anyone to end up on a dead-end road.  They think they know where the Law lane is leading them but they are deceived.

 

How do we get on the Grace lane? We want to live in the Grace lane.  How can we make sure we will enter Heaven through Jesus?  How can we get saved?

 

If you talk to different churches (denominations) they will tell you different ways to enter into Jesus so you will be saved. What does the Bible say?

  1. Believe and you will be saved – John 3:16, Luke 7:50
  2. Repent and you will be saved – Luke 24:47, Acts 17:30
  3. Confess and you will be saved – Romans 10:10
  4. Be baptized and you will be saved – Mark 16:15, 16; 1 Peter 3:21
  5. Stand firm and you will be saved – Matthew 10:22; Luke 21:19

 

So are there five ways to be saved? NO, God’s word describes the steps of salvation through Jesus.

To be saved, to be justified, to have our sins forgiven (this all means the same thing) we must believe Jesus is God’s son and He died to save us; we must repent of our sins, admitting we are a sinner and have disobeyed God’s rules, laws; we must confess that Jesus is Lord of our life; we must be immersed in the water, that is when we receive the indwelling gift of God the Holy Spirit; then we must remain in the faith we have just expressed through the first four steps and we will be saved, we will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

So you are a Christian; you believed, repented, confessed and were immersed. Your sins are forgiven and you have the indwelling gift of God the Holy Spirit now what.

What does Standing firm mean?

 

Matthew 10:22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

 

We read verses like:

2 Corinthians 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

 

We get the wrong idea that we are saved by faith in the blood of Jesus but we have to obey the commands in order to remain saved. Many think, “If I don’t live a good enough life then I won’t make it to Heaven.”

 

Our thinking shifts from grace to law. We are saved by grace as long as we keep the laws.

That makes no sense if you want to keep the laws you will be judged by the laws.

So how can Christians live in Grace apart from thinking we are going to lose our salvation because of bad works?

 

If I live under Grace I can live anyway I want. That is what the Christians in Rome thought.  Paul said NO!

 

Romans 6:1  What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2  By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

 

So if I live under Grace I have to obey the commands. No, you get to follow the commands of God which are there to protect you and guide you into a fruitful life for Him.

It is an attitude issue. If Jesus is your Savior you want Him to be your Lord.

 

I always say, Love Jesus and do whatever you want. Love your kids and treat them however you want.  Love your wife and treat her however you want.

 

What is your desire for the people you love?  You will treat them with respect and kindness; you will serve them for their enjoyment.  Loving Jesus means the same thing.  When you love Jesus and appreciate the Grace He has given, you will not take advantage of His love or abuse His grace.  You will live to say, “Thank You!”

 

So why will your works be judged by Christ?

You will realize how unworthy you are to enter into the Glories of God’s presence. After you see your deed on earth in the light of God’s holiness you will rejoice that your name is in the Book of Life.

You will enter Heaven not thinking you deserve this reward but humbly praising God He extended His grace to you.

 

Grace says, you broke the command but you escape the penalty because Jesus suffered the penalty for you.

 

Do you want to live by the Law or do you want to live by Grace?

If your choice is Grace then come and follow the steps God laid out for us to enter into a relationship with Jesus.

Believe, Repent, Confess, be Immersed.