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Many people question whether the afterlife really exists, and it can be hard to understand what Heaven and Hell really mean. The questions seem overwhelming. What happens when we die? What is the afterlife? Christians are promised that every single one of us can receive eternal life. All we need to do is accept the gift by letting Jesus into our hearts. Once we accept His gift and invite Him into our lives, we can look forward to the glory of life to come.
It is tempting to imagine that we can "earn" our way into Heaven. Some people like to think that if they are very good, they can guarantee themselves entry into Heaven. But getting into Heaven isn't like winning a sports match or getting a gold star on our homework. It's not something that we earn; it's something we receive.
The Bible is clear about this. The only way to enter the house of the Lord is by accepting Jesus. John wrote, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is our salvation and our redemption. Through him, we can find forgiveness for our sins and rejoice in the life to come. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
We don't get to Heaven by being "good." No matter how hard we try to be good, we end up stumbling. That's because we're human. As flawed, fallen human beings, we are constantly tempted to sin. We simply can't overcome every temptation that faces us. Nobody has enough willpower for that. Does that sound depressing or hopeless? It isn't. That's because we don't have to go through this life alone. We have the comfort of knowing that we can turn to Jesus for salvation. We don't have to rely on our own strength – we can lean on a far greater power. We don't get to Heaven by being good. We get there through our faith in Jesus.
Non-Christians sometimes wonder, what does it really mean to believe that Jesus Christ is our salvation? To begin with, it helps to remember that we are all sinners. Even good, hardworking, loving people commit sins constantly. We get angry and yell at each other. We tell lies. We don't always share what we have with the less fortunate. The list goes on and on. Jesus, who was fully God, walked on the earth, lived a perfect life, and gave up His life in sacrifice so that we could all have a chance to be forgiven for our sins. The Bible tells us that all we need to do is believe in Jesus Christ as savior, and we will be saved. And salvation means that we have a relationship with God now and will have a place with Him for eternity.
Of course, opening our hearts to Jesus is not a one-time event. Believers constantly seek to get closer to God by praying and asking God to forgive our sins.
We follow God's guidance and wisdom because we know that He loves us with overwhelming love. He wants us to experience goodness and joy in our lives. Our problem isn't that we don't love God enough but that we don’t really realize how much He loves us. By following God’s direction we can experience all the blessings that God wants for us. We don’t always see how God's commands will lead to goodness. Sometimes we spend long periods in the dark, wondering what God's will for us might be. But ultimately, we need to have faith and see that following His guidance will lead us to a better place in life.
We do not follow God's guidance because we need to earn His love. Nor do we seek to obey Him to earn a place in Heaven. Instead, we follow God's guidance because we want to draw closer to Him and follow the example of Jesus.
As Christians, we are called to spread the word of God far and wide. We must encourage as many people as possible to accept Jesus into their lives so that they, too, can be saved. It is our privilege to let all of our friends, family, and neighbors know what salvation and redemption really look like so that they can also enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
We as a church exist to help you meet, know and follow Jesus. No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, God loves you and you are welcome at Sun Valley.