Richard Weirich

Heaven is a Choice and Not Mandatory

Heaven is a Choice and Not Mandatory

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:8

Do you recall the old TV game show, Let’s Make a Deal? Contestants had to choose to open one of three doors. Usually, behind one of them was a “zonk,” worth little to nothing. But behind one of the doors was a valuable prize. Winning involved making the right choice.

Life is definitely not a game show, but we are presented with numerous choices along the way. And with those choices come consequences, both good and bad.

Just think of all the benefits of opening the right doors. Happy marriage, meaningful career, good friends, healthy lifestyle, etc. Of course, sometimes our choices are ill-advised and lead to misery and trouble.

Often times, we open wrong doors by no fault of our own. We have the best intentions, do our best to make the right decision, but just take the wrong path.

But most often, we choose to ignore warning signs and wise counsel — especially when it’s something we really want. We adopt the “I’ll take my chances” mentality. Long term implications are dismissed in favor of instant gratification. That’s the sin nature at work, rebellious and oblivious to negative consequences.

Consider the path chosen by those sentenced to hell in our focus text. They believed the lies of the evil one and traveled the road to perdition.

Scripture often references behavioral characteristics of the unredeemed. Some may have even given lip-service to a confession of faith, but their conduct reveals an unrepentant and unbelieving spirit. These lists are not intended to be exhaustive, but to highlight lifestyles that contradict saving faith. (see Rev. 21:8; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19)

Calling yourself a Christian does not make you one. When I was a child, I liked to dress-up like a cowboy. I had the hat, two six-shooters, chaps, spurs, and a stick horse. Clearly, I was a make-believe cowpoke.

Make-believe Christianity won’t get you into heaven any more than my cowboy attire would have earned me a position in a wild west show or rodeo. God only bestows His grace on those whose faith is genuine and proven by faithful obedience. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” ( John 8:31) He also said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

When the Bible references behavior that leads to eternal separation from God, you may see some conduct on those lists that causes alarm. “Liars,” for example, from our focus text. In Galatians 5, Paul includes “jealousy” and “envy” which is likely applicable to all of us.

In fact, there may be behavioral concerns from these sin lists that apply to you. But here’s the key. We all sin and make ungodly choices. When we repent and seek God’s forgiveness for occasional lapses into sin, the Lord honors those requests. However, sinful conduct that is ongoing and repetitive is problematic, indicative of one who has never truly surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.

Heaven is a free gift, but it is not automatically given to everyone. It can only be received by faith in Christ and commitment to His teachings.

So which door to eternal life have you chosen to open? Unlike the previously mentioned game show, there are only two doors, and you don’t have to guess at what’s behind them.

For more on this topic, check out this article: You Can’t Fake Your Way Into Heaven

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.


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