After all, the odds aren‚Äôt that remote ‚ÄĒ105 people die each minute around the world.
And furthermore, suppose you found yourself in line at the registration desk of heaven to check in. The desk clerk looks you up and down and says cheerfully, ‚ÄúGood morning, name please.‚ÄĚ You give him your name. Then he says, ‚ÄúYour ID please.‚ÄĚ And you reply, ‚ÄúI haven‚Äôt got it ‚ÄĒ haven‚Äôt you heard ‚Äėyou can‚Äôt take it with you?‚Äô It probably burned up in my house when I died.‚ÄĚ
The desk clerk is not amused and says, ‚ÄúOK, we‚Äôll look up your records.‚ÄĚ
After a slight delay, he scans your records, frowns and says, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm afraid there‚Äôs a problem here, it‚Äôs your credit rating, it‚Äôs really low.‚ÄĚ Exasperated, you protest, ‚ÄúWait a minute, last I looked, I had a score of 825.‚ÄĚ
The clerk responds gently, ‚ÄúBut sir, I‚Äôm talking about your spiritual credit score.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs that?‚ÄĚ you say. He explains, ‚ÄúWell, down on earth you ran up quite a spiritual bill, with all of your hard drinking, playing around, cheating on exams, unpaid taxes, etc. Your rap sheet runs on and on. But the big sin, the one that qualifies you as a big-time sinner is your continual rejection of God ‚ÄĒ that‚Äôs the biggie.‚ÄĚ
He looks away from his screen and slowly shakes his head.
You think for a while and respond, ‚Äúso what‚Äôs that got to do with my checking into heaven?‚ÄĚ The desk clerk looks at you incredulously and responds, ‚ÄúYou need a credit score of 1,000 to get in here, and besides … there‚Äôs the problem of your ID …‚ÄĚ
Now you‚Äôre getting really heated. You raise your voice a notch, ‚ÄúNo one has a perfect credit score! If that‚Äôs how it is, heaven must be a very lonely place.‚ÄĚ He says, ‚ÄúOh, no sir, heaven is quite full, and there‚Äôs always room for more.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúBut how did the others get in there?‚ÄĚ you demand. The clerk, unflustered, responds, ‚ÄúReally sir, it‚Äôs never been a mystery. Haven‚Äôt you read the instructions? All you need is proper ID and a perfect credit score, and voila, you‚Äôre in.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSo, what‚Äôs the ‚Äėproper ID‚Äô thing you‚Äôre talking about?‚ÄĚ you inquire.
‚ÄúYou need a red ID card with the letters, ‚ÄėIC‚Äô clearly printed on the face. Otherwise, you will still have your black card with the letters ‚ÄėIA‚Äô that you were issued automatically at birth,‚ÄĚ he explains. ‚ÄúThat red card is your ticket in. That way we know you have a perfect credit score and that all your bills have been paid in advance. This is a luxury all-inclusive hotel, you know.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSo how do I get one of those red ID cards?‚ÄĚ you anxiously ask. ‚ÄúToo late,‚ÄĚ the clerk says. ‚ÄúYou either arrive here with it, or we can‚Äôt help you … simple as that.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSo, where do I go now?‚ÄĚ you ask, quite sheepishly. ‚ÄúFollow the Exit signs to the elevator down the corridor,‚ÄĚ he adds. ‚ÄúAnd mind the gap.‚ÄĚ
The clerk quietly calls, ‚ÄúNext in line, please.‚ÄĚ
As the deliriously joyous sounds of a massive heavenly party in the ballroom slowly fade from your ears, you hesitantly follow the signs to the Exit. Tragic.
That grim little tale is not as far-fetched as you may think.
Among the Bible‚Äôs great truth streams, is the story of God‚Äôs ‚Äútwo Adams,‚ÄĚ which spans the entire sweep of human history.
The Bible (the so-called ‚Äúinstructions‚ÄĚ referred to above) reveals that all of human beings enter life already ‚Äúin‚ÄĚ the ‚ÄúFirst Adam‚ÄĚ through physical birth ‚ÄĒ our default position, in which we have no choice (in our metaphorical story above, this is represented by the black ID card with the letters ‚ÄėIA‚Äô, meaning ‚ÄėIn Adam‚Äô as his natural descendants).
We then learn that if we remain ‚Äúin Adam‚ÄĚ and die in that position, we will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We will ‚Äúperish,‚ÄĚ spiritually. That‚Äôs the bad news. There is good news, however.
God has made a stupendously generous offer to transplant us out of Adam No. 1 and into the family tree of the ‚ÄúLast Adam,‚ÄĚ through a process of spiritual rebirth ‚ÄĒ which results from a conscious intentional choice of exercising ‚Äúsaving faith‚ÄĚ in Christ‚Äôs death, burial and resurrection. (In our metaphorical story above, this is when we receive our red ID card with the letters ‚ÄúIC,‚ÄĚ meaning ‚ÄúIn Christ‚ÄĚ as his now-supernatural descendants.) That precious card can never be taken away, and it is colored red in recognition of its terms and conditions being eternally guaranteed by nothing less than the blood of Christ:
‚ÄúIt cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ‚Äôs sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately ‚ÄĒ at the end of the ages ‚ÄĒ become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It‚Äôs because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.‚ÄĚ1
Our eternal destinies hinge upon which of these two Adams we are ‚Äúin‚ÄĚ when our brief lives on earth come to an end. Nowhere has the subject of our roots had more profound implications. The Apostle Paul explains:
‚ÄúWe follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual ‚ÄĒ a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we‚Äôve worked from our earthy origins, let‚Äôs embrace our heavenly ends.
‚ÄúI need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don‚Äôt in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very ‚Äėnature‚Äô is to die, so how could they ‚Äėnaturally‚Äô end up in the Life kingdom?‚ÄĚ2
If you were to die today, would you have the ‚Äúcredentials‚ÄĚ to enter heaven? It doesn‚Äôt cost a thing and is offered to anyone, from the ‚Äúbest‚ÄĚ to the ‚Äúworst‚ÄĚ of sinners, as a free gift. Or are you willing to just take your chances in the great roulette wheel of life ‚ÄĒ or worse yet ‚ÄĒ appear at heaven‚Äôs door on your own recognizance?
More on this next week. A hint:
‚ÄúBelief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĒ Blaise Pascal
‚ÄĒ D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity‚Äôs basic ‚Äúvalue proposition.‚ÄĚ Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.
1. 1 Peter 1:18-21 The Message (MSG)
3. 1 Corinthians 15:45-50 The Message (MSG)