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  • Glenn Rosenbaum

HOW DO I GET TO HEAVEN?

Updated: May 11


I. Multiple opinions

II. Only one option


Acts 17:1-12 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and

a few prominent women. 5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, dear Christian friends,

Is the best basketball player of all time Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Are the Beatles the most popular band ever? Does the state of Michigan with its four seasons win out over the tropical island of Antigua as the best place to live?

Who has the right answers to those questions? Truth is, there are no right answers to those questions. They are all a matter of opinion.

We all have our opinions, don’t we? You might think this Coronavirus is nothing worse than the common flu, while someone else sees it as the worst health crisis in one hundred years. You might say President Trump is doing everything right and Governor Whitmer is doing everything wrong, while someone else sees it the other way around. You might conclude that when we re-open our beautiful sanctuary for worship that you still will not return because of possible infection, whereas someone else will be the first one through the doors.

In most situations, there can rightly be multiple opinions because there are many options to finding a solution or a plan to follow. Is that true when it comes to the question of how do I get to heaven? If not, why not? We will answer those questions as we listen to what God tells us today.

So, HOW DO I GET TO HEAVEN? While there are I..Multiple opinions, there is II. Only one option.

Today, just think of the opinions that exist when it comes to that question. Jews believe that they will get to heaven by their status as “seed of Abraham” and their life of good works. Mormons teach that Jesus was a human being who did so many good things that he became a god and that “as Jesus was, so we are; as Jesus is, so we can become.” Buddhists call their heaven Nirvana and follow Four Truths and an Eightfold Path to get there. Muslims live according to the Five Pillars and think they can be counted worthy of heaven by their good deeds. We Christians believe that Jesus is the only option as the way to heaven.

The world of the Apostle Paul’s day was similarly filled with multiple opinions of how to get to heaven. The Jews, the Romans, the Greeks, the atheists all had their own understanding of what happened after this life and how to attain a better life. Paul had firsthand experience with all of these opinions of how to get to heaven and he met them head on in order to be able to proclaim Jesus as the only option to get to heaven.

When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue…. Paul was bold. He was courageous enough to go right to the Jews in their place of worship and confront them with their false teaching and point them to Jesus as the only option to get to heaven.

And on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.

The first week must have gone well enough for Paul that he was allowed, and maybe even welcomed back, for the next two Sabbaths! Amazing! He was presenting a message that was totally different from the opinions of the Jews, yet they listened. He was proclaiming salvation by another, not by one’s own good works, yet they listened. He was preaching Jesus as the only option for heaven, not one’s genealogy or heritage, yet they listened.

Some of them did, that is. But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.

The truth is not always accepted. God’s Word is not always welcomed. And God’s faithful people will face the animosity and feel the backlash. Think of the prophet Elijah in today’s first lesson!

Jason and the others felt the persecution enacted by the jealous Jews. Thankfully, Paul and Silas were not at Jason’s house when the authorities arrived. God kept them safe so they could continue their mission work…elsewhere!

As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

Another success story for the spread of the gospel! Again, God led both Jews and Greeks to believe in Jesus as the only option for heaven! One neat note about the Bereans: they didn’t just listen to Paul on the Sabbath, but they looked at the Scriptures every day.

How well are you following the Bereans’ example? Are you reading your Bible each day and meditating on a daily devotion? As you quarantine, as you question what announcement will come next, as you listen to the conflicting opinions surrounding this crisis, that is really the key to answering all of our questions and today’s main question of “How do I get to heaven?”. There are multiple opinions, but the Scriptures give us only one option.

You and I are not immune to following these opinions because of our sinful nature that lives in each of us. Like the young child who wants to be independent while completing a task and refuses his parents’ help, “I can do this, I don’t need your help”, so our sinful nature pushes God away and says about our way to get to heaven, “I can do this, I don’t need your help”.

But, please, don’t listen to the multiple opinions of the sinful world or your own sinful nature; instead, look at and listen to what the Scriptures say. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us plainly, “I am the way…no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). Scripture also tells us, “he who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn 5:12).

Jesus is the only option when it comes to how to get to heaven. He is the only one who obeyed his heavenly Father’s instruction for every one of us, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). He is the only one who could offer up his life into death as the full payment for our sins. He is the only one who could rise from the dead as the assurance his work is complete and accepted by God on our behalf.

I do not need to reason with you from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. Thankfully, God has done his work in you through your baptism, washing away your sins and their punishment, giving you saving faith and its reward of heaven. Unlike the pandemic we deal with today, a vaccine has already been found and administered to us for our unbelief, for our doubts, for our fears. Jesus is the Way. Listen to his Truth. Enjoy the Life he won for you!

How do I get to heaven? Jesus has that answer! Jesus is that answer!




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