"What Gets Me Into Heaven?"
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16 (NKJV)
She was alone, dying and in pain. None of her family or friends was left. She asked the nursing home staff to call someone to minister and pray with her.
It was dinnertime when my phone rang. The caller said it was urgent that I get there.
I didn’t personally know the elderly woman lying in that bed. We’d never met, but instantly, love bubbled up inside me for her. I looked into her eyes, but she couldn’t see me — she was blind. I held her weak hands in mine and asked a few questions. Then she said, "I’m dying. I want you to pray for me."
"What do you want me to pray?" I asked. Then I paused and waited. Her cloudy blue eyes welled with tears that trickled onto our hands. She said nothing. I said nothing.
After a while of silently waiting for the Holy Spirit to direct me, I spoke: "Tell me about the day you accepted Christ." She didn’t say anything. I knew to be quiet as she processed. Finally, she answered, "I don’t know. I went to church when I was little; I was always a good person. But I never really knew Jesus."
It was clear where God was leading us. Bertha understood that simply being good wasn’t the same as living for and obeying the Lord. We had to take it a step further.
"Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" I asked.
She nodded and tears streamed down her cheeks as I shared today’s key verse, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (NKJV).
I continued, "He died on the cross for your sins and rose again so that you can have eternal life with Him. Eternal life is a free gift; we do nothing to earn it. God loves you so much, Bertha! He wants you to spend eternity with Him."
We prayed a simple prayer together. She acknowledged Jesus as her Savior and asked Him to forgive her of her sins. Bertha passed away shortly after our conversation. She didn’t have the opportunity to do more good deeds. Nor did she need to. That wasn’t necessary for her to receive Jesus’ gift of eternal life with Him.
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to do good: Donate warm winter jackets to children in need, deliver blankets to shelters or give canned goods to food banks. Our family invites others over who have nowhere else to go for the holidays. But I know that visiting the sick in nursing homes or welcoming the lonely around our dinner table (or any other good deed) won’t earn me a place in Heaven.
What will get me into Heaven? Just Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.
And believing that His birth … His death … and His resurrection actually happened are the greatest gifts ever. So priceless, we could never buy them.
You see, it’s not about what good things we do, or even the bad things we avoid, but about what Jesus has already done. Two thousand years ago, He gave His life in death on the cross so we could have life after death. Like Bertha, that is the best gift we could accept in our lifetimes!
Dear Lord, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. Your birth and death and resurrection are the greatest gifts of all time. I’m so thankful that all who acknowledge You will be with You again one day in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 6:47, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." (NKJV)
John 11:25, 26, "Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’" (NKJV)