Will I Reach Heaven?

The Gospel

 

Two swimmers head out to the ocean to compete for a prize! Swimmer one, has not trained and has very little experience swimming. Swimmer two, is a gold medallist in the Olympics! So, what do the two swimmers need to accomplish in order to win the prize? They need to swim around the entire Earth! Impossible, you say? Well, they are both up for the challenge! Swimmer one gets changed into their beach wear and looks out over the pristine waters. Swimmer two, gets dressed into their custom swimming gear and begins to focus and go through the motions before entering the water. Then, both dive in. After a mile or so out to sea, the waves become rougher. Things are getting tougher! A couple more miles, and swimmer one is becoming very exhausted. Swimmer two, is still confident and going strong!

As the effort continues, it becomes readily apparent, who is the expert and who is the amateur! The amateur has now stayed so far behind, that they can’t even see the expert in front of them! Now, the expert, glances back, and thinks to themselves, How much better I am! I have the experience, the knowledge, the body, the mindset, and all the training I need! I will surely get the prize, and not this amateur!

Hmmm…does this remind you of Jesus’s words? “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

Now, right beside the two, is a ship ready to rescue either and bring them to their destination. The amateur, finally fully exhausted and beginning to panic, cries out, “Please, rescue me! I’m drowning!” The response is instant and decisive! The one who could do nothing and realized the impossible situation at hand, cried out for the rescuer! Having found the safety of the ship, the amateur can now rest.

Yet, now, the expert swims on. Days go by and still the swimmer continues with determination. However, as time elapses, the professional swimmer begins to fail. Though the ship is abreast, they are too proud to acknowledge their need to be rescued. Finally, utterly exhausted and no more strength remaining to stay afloat, they disappear below the surface and meet their fate.

Yes, it was clear to us that the task at hand was impossible for either. So the amateur arrived safely at the destination and was awarded the prize, even though it was not deserved. The expert, well, they never made it.

So it is with Heaven. Many think that they have what it takes to be good enough to make it. Yet, the Word of God says that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) No, the one who is so religious, doesn’t understand the impossibility  of being good enough. No one can keep the law’s demands! All will fail by trying, and drown in the sea. All alike need the Saviour to save them, to rescue them! Yes, it so often is the ungodly one, the sinner who has never attempted to be religious, who understands their wickedness and the impossibility of being good enough, who cries out to the Rescuer, “Jesus, save me!” And He brings them to the Destination of Heaven, even though they don’t deserve it! This is grace!

Jesus rescued us by going to the cross and being punished for our sins! All of them! Not one single sin was omitted! He imputes, credits, His righteousness to us! If you believe in Him, the Saviour, this is true for you! Do you see your need to be rescued? Do you see the ability of the “ship” to give you rest from “swimming” and take you safely to your Destination? Do you understand the “rest”  He offers you? To stop your struggle to be good enough for Heaven? Ah, we are made “Acceptable in the Beloved”! It is Jesus’s righteousness given us as a gift that makes us acceptable to God! This is grace! We can’t do one single thing to attain Heaven, no, salvation is a gift given to us by God! We all need rescuing! We all need the Rescuer to save us! “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) Listen to this promise of God for you, my friend, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved [rescued]”! (Romans 10:13)

Victor J. Reimer

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Photo credit: “Cruise Ship” by Hans Christian Haaland

*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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