Clearly, we all know that the title of this post does not tell us something that is true. Yet, you are here reading anyway. Maybe you are curious about why I chose this title. Or, an even more intriguing thought may be to ask where am I going with this. In any event, since you are here, sit back and read on while I tell you the backstory. It will all make sense in a few minutes…
While I was shaving one morning earlier this week, I was reminded of an early morning ritual that I used to share with my Dad when I was VERY young – only several years old and before I had started school. I loved being with Dad and each morning as he prepared for work – he would head into the bathroom, brush his teeth and shave at the bathroom sink. I would stand, or sit, sometimes on the edge of the tub near him and we would talk about all kinds of things.
I remember watching as he applied shaving cream, his shaving mug and brush providing ample soap for him to completely cover his whiskers and end up with a great shave. In fact, to this day, I use a brush and mug myself – partially as an ongoing reminder of those mornings with my father as we talked about all kinds of issues back in the day.
One discussion I remember in detail happened after I received an old fashioned folio with a three ring binder and some notebook paper. We were talking about arithmetic and Dad was trying to teach me that 1+1=2. I wasn’t buying it. In fact, I went and got my new folio out of my bedroom, unzipped it, took out my pencil and promptly drew a “1” on the page. Then, next to it, I drew a second “1” and proudly showed my father that now I had “11”. In other words, 1+1=11 – no doubt about it.
Dad laughed but wouldn’t accept my statement. In fact, he went on to tell me that I wasn’t old enough to know arithmetic and that we should have this discussion after I learned more about how numbers work. In the meantime, I should trust him that someday I would know the right answer. I stuck to my position – to no avail. I ended up frustrated that I couldn’t convince my father that I was right.
Of course, several years later, after I learned how to add, I recalled my conversation with Dad and told him how I really believed that I was right when I was such a little kid. I still remember how convinced I was that I had the correct answer. Dad understood, but now I was educated enough to know that he was right and I had been wrong. It was a great lesson for me that I have recalled throughout the years and it wasn’t the only time in my life that I thought I knew more than I did.
There are subjects today that still elicit different responses from people. Like the math problem I clung to so many years ago, there are those among us who have strong beliefs that don’t hold up under scrutiny – kind of like my 1+1=11 exercise. When I got older, I understood that there was more to it than my naive thoughts. As I matured and was educated, I understood the truth. And today, the same problems come up in discussions with folks about religion.
Sometimes, I run into people today who have never been “taught” about God and they need training, just as I did, to learn the truth. Today, when most people are asked about why they think they will end up in heaven, they respond, “because I am a nice person…”. I remember when I was less spiritually mature that I even used that answer to justify my entrance into heaven.
But the truth of the matter is that being a nice person, while good and important, isn’t the defining thing that will get you into heaven. No… The right answer is that Jesus died for our sins and we must “believe” in Jesus to spend eternity with Him. We can’t buy our way into heaven, and we can’t earn our salvation – none of us is sinless and therefore, we can only accept the free gift of salvation that we are offered by God. And Jesus is the only way – there aren’t 47 different ways to get saved – nobody comes to the Father except through the Son.
There are all kinds of verses that reinforce this biblical truth and promise of God. Tonight, I have selected a somewhat obscure verse from the book of 1 John. Sure, I could use John 3:16, the father of all verses that we have all known since we were small, but the apostle John reinforces John 3:16 in his first epistle. John tells us, in 1 John 5:5, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
My encouragement this evening is that each of us has the chance to get into heaven by accepting the offer of salvation available to each of us. But being a nice person just doesn’t get the job done. My prayer is that we will continue to educate people and help them mature in their faith so they will realize the real truth about heaven… that way, they can do the math for themselves. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…