Heaven – Part 5 of 5: “The Celestial Race to Heaven”

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The Biblical Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone is best articulated for us by Paul in Romans 5:1 -- “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” At the moment of salvation, our enmity with God is removed, and we are declared “not guilty” in the high court of Heaven! 

Wow! What a great salvation (Hebrews 2:3-4)!! Further, this peace is the peace that comes to us in the person of Christ Himself, just as the Apostle Paul said, “For He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Therefore, at the cross, Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself, and met our desperate need for His peace. This truth is clarified for us in I Timothy 1:15: “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” In this one verse, Paul blends our Lord’s first advent, its redemptive purpose, and our response to it. Therefore, every “saved” sinner ought to know that his Savior has truly and finally delivered him from all of his sins. Is this not the powerful reason why we celebrate Christ’s birth each year? Indeed, it’s the truth of the old, old, story of God humbling Himself and becoming a man that sets us free to follow Him every day (Philippians 2:5-11). Beloved, King Jesus was once an infant who grew up as a sinless man, then died a horrible death on a Roman cross for “lost” sinners (Isaiah 53:5) from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9). Praise God we have been made to see our sin (Psalm 51:3) and His sinless sacrificial death (Isaiah 45:22). Yes, because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection as a man, we who have repented of our sin and placed our trust in His finished work on the cross alone, are now called sons of the Living God (1 John 3:1). This means that our eternal destination in Heaven is made absolutely certain (John 3:16). Such benefits should never be forgotten (Psalm 103:2), and should always be evidenced by its recipients in a living and working faith (James 2:17). Put another way, “saved” sinners should so respond to saving grace that they run, with spiritual energy, the celestial race to Heaven.  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). However, we must not merely enter and run with endurance in this race.  We must run to win it!  “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Those who have this perspective on the daily Christian life know full-well that Christians are saved by grace through faith alone, but a life of faith is authenticated by the works it produces (Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13).  Said another way, a Christian is saved by grace alone through faith that is not alone. Remember, for every great cause, there is always a great effect. Our Christian lives must and will be the effect of the great causal work of God in our salvation! - “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). May your worship tomorrow spur you on to run victoriously with joy and endurance the race to Heaven so that you may arrive safely one day at your eternal home in glory (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:18)! 

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