Today we reflect on the idea that heaven is for the spiritually alive, and not for the good enough. Heaven cannot be earned – it is a gift. The good news, however, is that Jesus is willing to give the free gift of heaven to anyone who will believe him and receive him.
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
John 5:21, 24-25
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
Just like the Father can raise the dead and give them life, Jesus gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. He can give life to dead people. And we aren’t talking about the physically dead. We are speaking of being spiritually dead and becoming spiritually alive. It is impossible to be born again spiritually, as Jesus described to Nicodemus in John 3, without first being spiritually dead.
The spiritually alive do not need the second birth. They have it. And I am not talking about being spiritually aware. There are people who fully understand the spirit world who are not spiritually alive in the sense that Jesus describes.
The Apostle James puts this well in his writing where he notes that even demons understand the nature of God (and shudder) (James 2:19). This isn’t about being aware of spiritual things. This is about receiving spiritual life from the only person who can give it (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).
In order to become spiritually alive, however, we must realize that before we believe in Jesus and receive him, we are spiritually dead by Jesus’ definitions. Jesus speaks of believing as the key to crossing over from death to life. When we truly hear the voice of Jesus and respond, we live. We cross over from being spiritually dead to become spiritually alive and we live a new and spiritual life.
This is being born again: It is the spiritual birth.
No one wants to think about how dead they are spiritually. Not only is it a downer, it pokes us with the truth that we do not live up to the standard of God. We don’t like that. In fact, before we understand that grace is a free gift from God, we are (hell) bent on evaluating ourselves quite strictly based on the works we do. We think if we do good enough we will go to heaven.
Jesus, on the other hand, says heaven is for the spiritually alive, not for the good enough.
When we can come to terms with the truth that we all fall short of God’s glory in some way or another, we see that we are due wrath from God and not the reward of heaven. Wrath is earned and heaven is a gift. It’s counter-intuitive I know. The good news, however, is that Jesus is willing to give the free gift of heaven to anyone who will believe him and receive him.
To every person who responds in this way to Jesus, he will make each one spiritually alive.
I hope you might consider this offer from Jesus today.