I think it’s safe to say that, of all the people in this world that believe in some form of the after-life, and that believe there is both a place for the good and a place for the bad, 99% want to go to the place where the good people go.
Sure you will find some devil worshiping nuts out there, but for the most part, everyone wants to go to their form of Heaven.
Now we know the Bible to be true and we know what it says about the after-life and the two eternal resting places of the soul. And based on what Christ and the Bible writers tell us about these two places, it’s a pretty easy choice as to where we should want to end up.
Consider the choices before us:
filled with wicked people
forever and ever and ever with the devil and his angels
OR choice “B”
Forever and ever and ever with God Christ and the Holy Spirit
I think it’s a safe bet: “B” would be the favorite.
But, despite the obvious lopsided contest between Heaven and Hell, there are still going to be more people lost than there are saved…
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat
Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it
How can it be that a lot of people want to go to heaven, but few people actually make it?
The reason: They chose not to have what it takes. The reason I say it like that is because everyone has what it takes; anybody can obey the Gospel…but not everybody will. Why? They chose not to.
So then what does it take?
In Matthew 18 Jesus tells us.
Do you wanna go to heaven? Are willing to have what it takes?
It takes humility
It takes responsibility
It takes self sacrifice
It takes compassion
It takes discipline
And it takes a forgiving spirit
IT TAKES HUMILITY
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Notice the question that is brought to Jesus: “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Now the disciples may have been looking for a name, but Jesus gave them a characteristic. He brought a child and set him before them.
Notice what He says: “except you be converted and become like a child you cannot enter into the kingdom…” While Jesus is certainly talking about being converted in the sense that you become a new creature (a “child”), it goes deeper than that.
Notice his next statement: “Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.”
Remember the question that Jesus was asked at the beginning of the chapter (“who will be the greatest”) had the disciples practically saying “will it be me” and “will it be me” and “what about me, will I be the greatest?”
Jesus is correcting their self-centered attitude; the one who humbles himself, Jesus says, he will be the greatest.
Do you want to go to Heaven? Humble yourself in the sight of God and He will lift you up.
IT TAKES RESPONSIBILITY
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Jesus continues His statement from the previous verses. Remember He is talking not about actual children, but converted people: “Woe to those that would cause a converted person to stumble!” Keeping it in its context, remember the disciples were wanting to know which would be the greatest in the kingdom. Well that kind of question would easily pit the disciples against each other.
If Jesus had answered their question the way they wanted He would have no doubt caused strife to arise between them. Thus the Lord says ot would be better to be drowned than to cause someone else to stumble.
You know what that means? It means getting to Heaven takes responsibility.
Notice Jesus words in verse 7. What does He mean, “it must needs be that offenses come”?
In other words Jesus is saying “Don’t be waiting for the day when no one will have a stumbling block placed before them, because that day will not happen while we are on the earth.” No man should look for the day when there will be no offenses, but each should see to it that he is not the cause of them.
You wanna go to heaven? Yes it takes humility, but it also takes responsibility.
A lot of people look at Christianity and they say: “no thanks.” Why? Because they see Christians acting one way twice a week and another way the rest of the time.
You know what that does? That causes people to think poorly about the church, so you can forget about converting that person. On our way to Heaven we need to see to it that we are living like people who are going to Heaven. That’s a big (but doable) responsibility.
IT TAKES SELF-SACRIFICE
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Notice this word “offend” in verse 8 – it means “to stumble” or “to cause to stumble.”
In other words Jesus is saying if your right hand is getting you into trouble cut it off. Now, remember to keep what Jesus is saying in its context. He just finished talking about responsibility (responsibility to ourselves not to stumble or cause others to stumble).
So it makes sense that this would be the next thing He says. Here He is telling us how to be responsible; because if we find ourselves stumbling or causing others to stumble, then we have to change our lives to help avoid stumbling again.
When Jesus talks about cutting off hands or plucking out eyes, the application of his metaphor is: Be willing to sacrifice the things you care about. As he says in v9-10, it’s better to have sacrificed something and make it to Heaven, than to have everything, and be lost in Hell.
How many young Christians attend services every Sunday, and attend every party on Saturday?
That is not sacrifice
How many Christians sing their hearts out on Wednesday night, and curse like a sailor on Thursday morning at work?
That is not sacrifice.
How many Christians will stand up stand up for Jesus when the song is led, but will deny him, deny him, when push comes to shove?
That is not sacrifice
You wanna go to Heaven?
It takes humility.
It takes responsibility.
It takes self-sacrifice.
IT TAKES COMPASSION
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Now you may ask, what does compassion have to do with the parable of the lost sheep?
A man has a hundred sheep, one goes astray, he leaves the 99 to find that one lost sheep, and when he finds it he rejoices. What does this have to do with compassion?
The compassion is found in the shepherd. He had compassion and care for each individual sheep, so much so, that when just one went missing, he dropped everything to find it. And when he did he rejoiced, greater than he rejoiced over the 99 he had not lost.
Does that mean he loved that one sheep more than the others? No, it means that having a sheep restored to the flock gives Him a reason to have extra joy.
Who is to have the compassion? We are!
There are those who will be saved, but will not stick with it; they become like lost sheep. Should we just forget about them, or should we go after them? We need to go after them; we need to find those lost sheep.
God is not going to hold us responsible if a Christian decides to leave the church. But what if we have a chance to bring him back and we don’t even try?
Are we responsible? I think so.
You’ve got to have compassion. That doesn’t mean you tolerate sin; Christ was intolerant of sin, but He was compassionate toward the sinner. He sought out the sinner to repent. He did not tell the sinner he was ok, on the contrary: Jesus had compassion but He also had discipline…
IT TAKES DISCIPLINE
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Yes we are to have compassion, but we are also to have disciple. We have got to be willing to discipline ourselves, and if need be, allow others to disciple us.
Notice v15: “Go and tell him his fault…”
Do not say “well as long as he loves Jesus, he is ok.” No! Go and tell him what he is doing wrong! Why? Because Christ is not going to tolerate his sin.
You see, we are told to do this, not so we can have some superiority complex. Our job is not to set somebody straight on a sin in which they are engaged. The Book has already set them straight. Our job is to tell them what the Book said.
Have you ever heard someone say: “God is forgiving, the church is unforgiving.” Or “they kicked me outta their church because I sinned, but God forgave me!”
Do you know why many look at “church disciple” that way? Because they see the congregation as placing themselves on a pedestal and pronouncing judgment upon a person. It’s not our place to pronounce judgment; it’s our place to tell someone where the Book (where God) has pronounced judgment.
We cannot condemn someone for an action they committed (that’s what Judges do). God, however, can and will.
So if a Christian sees his brother sinning, he needs to tell him, because he wants to save him before its too late. Go and tell him, just the two of you, and if you get through to him – its over and done. But (v16), if he does not repent, then Jesus says to take a couple more people. Have a mini-intervention. Maybe a group can talk some sense into the person. If they can, great; it’s over and done.
But (v17), if he will not listen to a group…Tell it to the church. And if he still refuses to repent, though his entire church family is pleading with him, then as the very last resort Jesus says you need to separate from him. Because he clearly doesn’t want to be faithful (and you do).
Now it might seem that v18-20 is separate subject, but Jesus is still talking about discipline. Whatever God has loosed or binded is recorded in the Bible. If you do more or less than what the Book says, you need to be disciplined. And when we go to confront an erring brother, Christ says He will be there alongside us (v19-20).
We go because we have a responsibility. We go because we have compassion. And when someone goes to us, its up to us to have the humility and the willingness to sacrifice needed to remove the sin from our lives and get back to following God. And when the erring brother repents…
IT TAKES A FORGIVING SPIRIT
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants….
Having just finished talking about discipline toward a brother who sins against another, Peter’s question makes sense: “How many times can I forgive him?” Now Peter knows what the doctors of the law teach (they say you can forgive up to 3 times and after that you don’t have to forgive anymore). Peter also knows Jesus tendency to say what the doctors teach, and correct their mistakes. So he asks Him: Can I forgive my brother seven times. Peter probably thought he had a good answer (more than double what the doctors taught).
But Jesus says “Seven times…no!” Jesus had probably forgiven Peter than many times since breakfast! Instead, Jesus says “70 x 7” which is a roundabout way of saying “put no limit on the amount of times you can forgive.”
Then He proceeds to teach a parable (v23-35): A servant owes his master 10000 dollars (to modernize it). He cannot pay, so he begs for mercy. Mercy is granted unto him (notice that the debt is forgiven, not merely reduced or extended, etc). That same forgiven servant goes out immediately and finds one of his fellow servants who owes him a small amount money and demands money.
That’s the first wrong committed here. If this person legally justified in demanding money? Yes. But is he morally justified, considering he was just forgiven? Absolutely not!
When that servant cannot pay, and asks for mercy, he is given no mercy.
That’s the second wrong committed by this forgiven person.
When his lord (the one who bestowed mercy on him) finds out what he has done, he calls him a “wicked servant” (v32) and he delivers him to the tormentors till he can pay every penny back to his lord. In other words, the forgiven debt was re-applied to his account!
Now here’s the application (v35): God will do the same to us, if we don’t forgive those that sin against us.
In the parable, we are the servant on whom mercy was extended. God in his mercy, sent His Son to die for us, and pardoned us when we could not pay the debt we owed because of our sin toward Him.
But what’s the catch? We had to repent to receive His mercy. So how should we be when someone sins against us, and repents? We should have mercy as well.
If we don’t, God calls us a wicked servant. And that debt He forgave will once more be the weight which drags us to Hell for eternity.
We need to be forgiving!
Everybody in their right mind wants to go to Heaven, but it takes something to get there. Jesus teaches us that is takes
And a forgiving spirit.
Do you want to go to Heaven? You have what it takes..will you do it?
Think about it,
have a great day!