Is it Possible to Be Ready for Heaven?
The veil between heaven and earth draws open slowly for some and quick for others. At times this veil seems translucent and other times it’s opaque. But the one thing that remains constant is eternity. A recent Saturday found me sitting next to my friend who is traveling through the valley of the shadow of death. Her breath came in gasps as her body began the process of shutting down. As I looked into her eyes I saw, past the faded blue, a searching for a sight I can only envision. Her eyes will soon be lit with fire when she sees her Savior face to face.
We live for the hope of eternity in our present and experience eternity’s fulfillment in heaven. This viewpoint prompts us to live in our present with an eye for eternity because our daily choices hold great eternal weight. But how do we prepare our hearts for eternity when we’re bombarded by schedules, financial stress, addictions, sorrow, loss, or relationship issues? What does the Bible say about being ready for heaven?
Preparation: Building on the Right Foundation
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no man can boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation has nothing to do with our efforts. We’re saved from a life enslaved to sinful desires and set free to live a life for God.
The Bible speaks with clarity on how to live for Christ, how to trust him, and how to treat others. Salvation is God’s gift to those who believe. Our gift to God is to partner with him in the sanctification process.
Our efforts and motives play a role in being ready for heaven. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 states:
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
The foundation, our salvation, is Jesus, and how we choose to live and what we choose to build with our lives matters. Gold, silver, and precious stones require effort and investment to obtain. We need to invest in our relationship with Christ. We need to take the time to hear God and then build our lives upon what he says. Matthew 18:3, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Maxx Gong
“The Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Such as These”
To become like a child isn’t to live with irresponsibility. It’s coming to God with a receptive and trusting heart where we cultivate an eager desire for spiritual food. It’s this position that holds the most promise for growth and maturity for us. A childlike faith is the starting point in our mining for gold, silver, and precious stones. These are what we use as our building materials as we build our lives on the foundation of Jesus.
As we grow in maturity, while still maintaining the trusting heart of a child, we need to put into practice Matthew 6:20-21, “But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” These verses speak to our motives of what and for whom we are building. Motives are easy to hide, but when we live life surrendered to God, we’re able to trust him to reveal our hearts. And as we journey with him, he leads us to complete maturity.
How Are You Defining Perfection?
Colossians 1:28 refers to flawlessness or perfection. When we read God’s word, we need to remember to search for understanding within the context of the whole Bible. Perfect in this verse doesn’t mean without flaw. It means complete. Perfection via human standards becomes a burden too heavy to bear. But when we come to God, flawed and incomplete, he makes us complete or perfect before him. We encourage the process through the application of Scripture to our lives, discipline and guidance from Christ, and a surrender of the control over our desires.
As we live our lives with a heart bent towards heaven, we grow complete in character, holiness, maturity, and love. In character, we need to aspire to be like Christ as much as possible. In holiness, we need to separate ourselves from sinful values and be devoted to God’s desires of love and mercy. To grow in maturity, Christ calls us to excel and to rise above mediocrity. We must then ask ourselves if our behavior is appropriate for our maturity level.
Design Credit: Sarah Martin
No One Stays the Same on the Path to Heaven
Everyone begins as infants in their relationship with God. Infants don’t stay infants, but progress from baby to toddler to child to adult. The Christian life reflects this too. We must grow through the stages of maturity as believers in Christ. If we’ve been growing in Christ for many years, but we still cling to childish ways, then it’s time to examine our behavior in light of our maturity.
In our growth to completeness we must love others as completely as God loves us. He loves us enough that he chooses us in our wretchedness, and he calls us to a path that leads us closer and closer to him. As we understand the power of love behind his mercy and justice, we’re able to love others with the same kind of lavishness he gives to us.
Being ready for heaven requires us to press on. We must press on when we want to give up or when it gets too hard or when discouragement dogs our every step. Living a heaven-minded life in the middle of days that last too long or with circumstances we didn’t choose requires a heart set on Christ. We must seek him first for help. We must seek him first so we can trade our thoughts for his desires. And seeking him first is the only way to take his character as our pattern for life.
God’s Lavish Grace Prepares You for Heaven
Living lives that prepare us for heaven is a partnership between us and the Lord. The parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) show us that membership into heaven is by God’s grace alone. He sets the standards and his generosity is beyond our limited understanding. In this parable, the vineyard owner hired workers throughout the day, but paid everyone the same wage whether they worked all day or a small portion of the day.
Heaven is accessible to someone whether they’ve served God for five decades, five years, or five days. This lavish grace is the type of grace that God gives us and why salvation is not determined by us. If mankind determined the standards for heaven, we’d be a twisted mess. The impossibility of it would crush us with hopelessness. We must seek to understand grace and apply it to our lives.
Grace is not a free pass to live our lives by what is right in our own eyes. Grace is more than salvation—it’s also transformation. It’s the power by which our minds experience renewal, which then transforms our actions. But it’s a partnership learning to live in the freedom God provides.
Be an Active Participant in the Coming Kingdom
This active work of grace in our lives prepares us for heaven. We must let go of the misunderstanding that grace is a passive permission slip to live however we see fit. God’s work of grace in our lives has nothing to do with our qualifications and everything to do with God qualifying us for his inheritance: eternal life with him. Take hold of your qualifications and join in the work of bringing God’s Kingdom closer. Whether or not you feel ready, believe that God will finish what he started (Philippians 1:6), and he calls you to be a part of seeing it through.
With this mindset, we become partners with God in our growth towards maturity, as we’re fashioned into citizens of an everlasting Kingdom. Through maturity we will attain the full measure of Christ. Let’s persist in pursuing God through the disciplines of faith, focus, and follow-through in order to be ready for heaven
Jessica Van Roekel is a woman on the journey to wholeness through brokenness. She believes that through Christ your personal histories don’t have to define your present or determine your future. Her greatest desire is to see you live this “God-life” with all the power and grace that God provides. Jessica lives in a rural community with her husband and four children. She leads worship on Sundays, but seeks to be a worshiper every day. You can connect with her at www.welcomegrace.com and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jessica F
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jessica F