There are millions of people on planet Earth who are wanting to know the answer to this question: How can I get to heaven?
Preachers from various faiths have outlined different paths to be walked to reach that goal, yet each one does so with a different church, with a different creed, and with different religious practices. This confusion leaves many good, honest folks bewildered by the conflicting claims of the modern religious world. The sad result is much religious division!
Friends, do you want to know how to get to heaven? It's not a hard question to answer! How are we going to find the answer to our question? We've got to find the answer in God's book, the Bible, and that's what we're going to do in this three-part series of lessons. You see, there are three steps that are necessary to get to heaven. But, these are not small steps! Rather, they are giant steps! Each of these steps is exceedingly important; they are all essential.
THE FIRST GIANT STEP TO HEAVEN IS THE STEP OUT OF SELF.
What does stepping out of self entail?
- Stepping out of self requires denying self.
This is one of the most difficult things in life. For young children, everything is about self. They believe the world revolves around them and their desires. If we are to mature, we must learn to overcome selfishness. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 - "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." We've got to be willing to put God first in our lives, not ourselves. Paul declared in Galatians 5:24 - "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Are you one who belongs to Christ? Galatians 6:14 reads - "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Have you been crucified to the world like Paul was? Paul learned that to serve the Lord meant to deny himself. An overly inflated self-esteem has no place in the life of a servant of Jesus Christ!
- Stepping out of self requires putting off the old man.
If one turns to Christ, he or she must die to the old life of sin! Paul commanded in Colossians 3:9,10 - "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him." The old way of life has to die to make room for the new! That "old man" has to die that a "new man" might live! Paul spoke of his own life in Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." We, like Paul, must put off our old, sinful way of life in order to enter into Christ.
- Stepping out of self requires giving yourself to the Lord.
It is not enough to just deny yourself and put off the old man. You must be willing to surrender to the Lord to serve Him. II Corinthians 8:5 teaches us a great lesson about the Macedonian Christians - "And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God." Paul was very pleased with their liberality in giving, especially that they were willing to give themselves! Paul wrote in Romans 12:1,2 - "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Are you a living sacrifice for God?
To step out of self, we must deny ourselves, put off the old man of sin, and then give ourselves to the Lord without reservation! We will consider the second giant step to heaven in our next lesson.