OK, so on September 2, I'll actually compete in my second World Championship (WC) triathlon. My first was in 1998 when I raced in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship triathlon. I was comparing and contrasting that WC with the one I'll be in in a few days and I thought about heaven with respect to Christianity, and specifically I thought of the ways in which people believe they will get there. These two WCs model two very different mind sets. What do I mean? I'm glad you asked!
Well, let's look at the Olympic distance WC triathlon I'll be in soon. It's only 32 miles. It's also a team effort (Team
What about the Hawaiian Ironman? Well, let me tell you, there was no way I could have qualified for that race. I would have had to be in the top few finishers in my age group in another Ironman race to maybe get a slot...and I wasn't good enough. No way. I didn't qualify. I couldn't have earned it. I didn't have the speed or talent. Nothing in me measured up to that standard. I could not muster up a performance that would be worthy of getting into that race.
But wait...didn't I say I DID do that race??? What's up with that? Well, I got in due to the act of someone else - two people actually. I got in due to the kindness and sacrifice of others. Someone high up in the Ironman organization had several slots for the race that he could give out as he saw fit. Through a "God-connection" we met, discovered common friends and backgrounds, hit it off relationally, and at the end of a great dinner one evening, he offered me a slot in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship. I almost fell out of my chair. I was in and I had done nothing to earn it. On top of that grandmother offered to pay my entry fee. So, all was taken care of...and I had nothing to do with it.
These two WCs represent the two mind sets I was referring to earlier. Some think that if they are just good enough...if they just do enough good things...if the good outweighs the bad...if they perform in a way that impresses God enough...earning their way in, then, they can qualify for heaven. But what do the 10 commandments show us? THAT is the qualifying test. Have you kept the 10 commandments in thought, word and deed perfectly your whole life? Ever lied - even once? Ever been jealous? Ever used God's name in vain? Ever lusted? Ever disobeyed your parents?
James says that if we've broken one commandment even one time, we've failed this "Goodness Test."
Heaven is impossible to earn. No human performance is good enough. No one can qualify. It's only through the kindness and sacrifice of another - the Lord's brutal suffering and death on the cross - that makes it possible for us to get in. His blood covers our sins. His sacrifice pays the entry fee.
Now, once the Ironman Exec. gave me the slot and my grandmother paid the entry fee, I had to register and sign the waiver. If I wasn't willing to meet that demand placed on me, I couldn't get in. One line in it talked about the possibility of dying in the event! Wow. So, though Christ paid for us to get in, we must count the cost before we sign on the line. Are we willing to submit to Him and His Lordship? Are we willing to repent because Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3, 5. Repentance is getting off the throne of your life for good so that Christ can take his rightful place there. It's making a spiritual U-turn (YOU-Turn) from self-government to submitting to the rule of Christ in your life. He comes in and takes over completely...and you're glad about it.
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