HOW TO GET THERE FROM HERE
The title may strike you as strange but I hope it grabs your attention so you will read the article. In case you haven’t already figured it out, the “there” I am talking about is heaven and the “here” is where we live now. The purpose of this article is to show how those living “here” can get “there” (heaven). All should want to get “there” for it is the dwelling place of God and His Son and its splendor is described so beautifully in Rev.21-22. But sadly, most people won’t get there because they are not willing to do what it takes to make the journey.
To get “there” (heaven) we start from “here” (earth) by entering thru the “narrow gate” which opens into the “difficult (strait) way” leading to life “there” Matt.7:13-14; Lk.13:24. But since the way is difficult very few enter. Many are just casual seekers who after hearing about “there,” desire to go “there.” They may have even inquired about how to get “there” but are unwilling to expend the effort required to get “there.” Jesus explained why in Lk.13:24. He said one must “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I say to you will seek to enter and will not be able.” Note the words “strive” and “seek.” Strive is to agonize, exert, strain every nerve to enter. See 1.Cor.9:25-27; Col.1:29; 4:12. Seek is to desire, inquire after, to search for, but not necessarily with earnest, agonizing desire. Entering into the “narrow gate” and following “the difficult way” to “there” is not a matter of indifference, convenience or personal preference. The Lord is the one who has determined the way, not man. He requires one “here” to enter the “narrow gate” by being baptized into Christ into His death, then added to His body Gal.3:27; Rom.6:3-4; 1.Cor.12:13. One is then in “the narrow way” leading to “there.”
But it takes determination “to run with endurance the race set before us,” so we may finish the course Heb.12:1-2 Let me mention three things that will help us get “there.”
The first one is to stay connected. When we enter the narrow gate, we are connected to Christ Gal.3:27. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” Once we are connected, we must continue to “strive” to stay connected. Some think that once they have been connected to Christ, they can never be unconnected and refer to Jn.10:28-29. Yes, Jesus said “…they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” His words do not remove personal responsibility. While it is true no one else can remove you from His hand you can disconnect yourself by your faithlessness and failure to endure 2.Tim.2:11-13. “If we endure…if we are faithless, He remains faithful…” The “if” indicates there are conditions attached at our end, not His. Notice what He stated in Jn.15:1-7. “Abide in Me, and I in you” v.4, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…” v.7. The word “abide” (to continue in, dwell or remain with, endure) conveys the idea of being connected, but again the little word “if” shows it is conditional. We stay connected only when we faithfully follow His steps and keep His commandments 1.Jn.2:3-6; Jn.8:31-32; Col.1:23. So, “strive” to stay connected.
Another thing we need to do to “get there from here” is keep informed. It is not enough to know how to enter the gate, for the way will be “difficult” (strait) as you strive to get there. It is difficult because the world places many obstacles and pitfalls in the way. When people are uninformed or misinformed by distortion and misinformation they stumble and fall away. This was the downfall of OT Israel. They did not keep informed about the right way. They were “destroyed for lack of knowledge” Hos.4:6. They were warned they had left the “old Paths” but refused to return. “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’“ Jer.6:16. To avoid this same departure from “the way” NT Christians must keep informed. We are told to “be diligent (study) to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2.Tim.2:15. If we do this we will “…continue in the things you(we) have learned…” 3:14 and “hold fast the pattern of sound words” 2.Tim.1:13. So, if you want to get “there” from here” keep informed Phil.4:9; 2.Thes.2:15.
A third thing we need to do “to get there from here” is to remain inspired. No, I’m not talking about Biblical inspiration, I am talking about a spirit that drives, enlivens, and animates you as you strive to get there. This inspiration is depicted by Paul “…but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me…but one thing I do… I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus” Phil.3:12-14. To have this type of inspiration you must be truly convinced that the way you are traveling is right, and that you are able to finish the course, not by yourself, but with help of the Lord. He has promised to give you the tools to do this. He will “after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” 1.Pet.5:10. The world says you can’t make it, but if you believe, you can. Why does the bumble bee fly? By the laws of aerodynamics, the world says it is impossible for him to fly. But he flies anyway. Why? Because he believes he can. Christians can make it there from here if they remain inspired, convinced, and committed to the goal. Just keep on keeping on Gal.6:9.
“Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” Heb.10:35-39.