The message was clear… this woman was going to heaven because of what she had done. She had served faithfully. She had earned her “wings” (so to speak). My stomach turned as I listened. My spirit was grieved as I saw his influence over the majority of the people in the pews. I had to bite my tongue so that I wouldn’t scream “NO!” in the middle of the service.
Contrast that message with the message I heard from my Pastor just this past Sunday. It was based on Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents. Jesus makes it perfectly clear in verse 30 that the servant who was given one talent and buried it in the ground without ever using it would be thrown “into darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” There’s only one place described like that in the bible and it ain’t heaven! Our Pastor’s challenge was, “What is your talent? And are you using it to serve the Lord? Those who don’t use their talents will not go to heaven.”
So what’s the difference? Aren’t they both saying the same thing? Once again I scream to you, “NO!” There is a huge difference between these two messages.
First and most importantly, it is only by God’s grace that we are saved. (Ephesians 2:8-9) There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn ourselves a place in heaven. No matter how hard we try to “be good” or “be da glove” we can never be good enough to get in. Our restored relationship with God is a result of Jesus’ perfect life and His death on the cross for OUR sins. He did it… we CAN’T do it! We are promised a home in heaven only because of God’s unfathomable love for us and His desire to let His Son Jesus pay the price for our sin.
So how does one explain Matt. 25:30? What was Jesus talking about? It sure sounds like we need to do something to get into heaven!
Jesus said, if we are truly His disciples, we are going to do what He has told us to do. (John 8:31) What He is saying is that by definition a follower, follows! You can’t be a Christ follower, which is what the word “Christian” means, and NOT follow Him. It just doesn’t make sense. We don’t “B DA GLV” in order to get to heaven… we “B DA GLV” to be more like the One we are following. The servant in Matthew’s gospel who did nothing with the talent he was given obviously didn’t do what his master asked him. He was no follower and therefore wouldn’t receive the gift of heaven.
Jesus says later on in the book of John, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) There’s that B DA GLV message again. Jesus loved us so much He gave His life for us! That’s love! And that is why we are assured of heaven… because of His great love. Now in return, as His followers, we are to love like He did and show the world the kind of love He showed us so that they too can come to know His love!
How ’bout you? Have you received the gift of His love that He wants to give you? And if so, are you a follower who truly follows?