There is no way eternal life in paradise could be free, could it? After all, nothing is free. And besides, if it's too good to be true, there has got to be a catch, right?
Then again, I wonder about the signs. You know, those indicators which lend support to this astonishing idea that people can receive the free gift of "salvation." What are we to make of all the empirical evidence in the hearts and lives of Christ followers?
Are they motivated merely by religious zeal and a creative imagination?
Then we've got that little matter concerning their unemotional source of confidence. Namely, the objective Word of God and the promises inherent in the Gospel message. They refer to it as "the good news," and they speak of finding tremendous comfort in this message.
"Hey, I just assumed they were basing their confidence upon some mystical experience or spiritual feelings."
Confidence in a religious message? Really? And an inner assurance? "But nobody really believes that stuff, do they?"
Well actually, hundreds of millions of Christians around the world do indeed believe it. And this is why we seek to live for Christ; not in order to earn heaven, which is impossible, but to show our appreciation for our Savior's love and the eternal "inheritance" God has prepared for us.
Here is how Scripture explains it: "In His great mercy God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you." (1 Peter 1:3,4)
You would be wise to give serious thought to the biblical teaching that paradise is a free gift to anyone who will receive it. "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." (Rev. 22:17)
Here are 20 dynamic spiritual realties ("signs" if you will) to reflect upon so that you don't miss out on the greatest gift ever given.
1. Man has a deep desire to know what happens after death. (Compare man's thoughts about eternity to what animals "think about.")
2. Other pleasures in life fail to satisfy man's most pressing dilemma: "Is there life after death?"
3. There is a sense in man's heart that he was created to exist forever.
4. The Bible has plenty of internal and external support for its historicity and authenticity.
5. There is tremendous consistency in Scripture concerning God's grace and the free gift of salvation.
6. A God who can create man and paradise would likely want people to live in heaven with Him.
7. At a funeral, people strongly sense that man was not created to die.
8. Millions of believers claim to know eternal life in heaven is a free gift through faith in Jesus.
9. There is only one religion with so many followers claiming to have the assurance of going to paradise one day.
10. Believers base their assurance of heaven on God's promises, rather than on the testimony of other believers.
11. Believers experience joy when reflecting upon their eternal home.
12. Works-based religion creates spiritual uncertainty, while providing no assurance of going to heaven.
13. Heaven and hell are ideas man wouldn't naturally devise.
14. The Gospel message is so unique, comforting, and life-changing.
15. Genuine believers do not consider the assurance of salvation a license to go out and freely sin.
16. Christians who experience the blessed assurance of salvation have produced much beautiful music and art.
17. Many unbelievers become agitated when rejecting the notion that the devil is blinding them.
18. There is a strong correlation between unbelief and the fear of what happens after death.
19. Would a works-based system boil down to percentages? (i.e. 53% good works; 47% bad deeds)
20. Those who hated Jesus Christ were unable to produce His body after He died and rose again.
So there you go. These spiritual realities are certainly worth considering, wouldn't you say? Perhaps you will be someone who comes to trust the message of the Bible later in life, after having seen the emptiness of the other options.
But wherever you find yourself today, God can place you on the path to paradise. Jesus died for your sins. He also rose from the grave so you can go to paradise one day. And He will bring all who believe in Him to heaven.
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:25,26) And then our Lord asked the question, "Do you believe this?"
Well, do you? Or have you outsmarted yourself on this one? Multitudes of people are too "smart" to make it into heaven. After all, paradise couldn't possibly be free, could it?
Oswald Chambers summed it up beautifully: "The reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much."
Well, when I think about it that way, no wonder it's free. What a phenomenal Savior! And what a glorious future for all who believe!