I was recently going to eat some southern Texas bar-b-cue with my wife, and as we pulled up to the restaurant I was already salivating. Walking up to the cashier to give her our order, I noticed a stack of gospel tracts for the customer to grab. On the front of the tract the following question was stated: “Do you want to go to heaven?” The usual tract uses the same exact functional approach:
Step 1: God is amazing and you want to go to heaven after you die…because its way better than hell…and satan.
Step 2: You are a filthy rotten sinner and God is holy.
Step 3: You are still a filthy rotten sinner…deserving of being tormenting forever on a divine spick.
Step 4: Dont you not want to be a filthy rotten sinner?
Step 5: Good news! Jesus came in to the world to die and pay for your sins.
Step 6: Still want to go to heaven? Just REPENT, repeat our carefully written prayer on how much of sinner you are and how you want Jesus to walk into your heart; and believe.
Step 7: Did you pray the prayer we made up? You are now in our little club! Woohoo!!!
Step 8: We don’t really know what to do with you from here…try to find a church that teaches the Bible. Amen.
Galatians 1:4“who (Jesus) gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,”
How could someone respond to a gospel tract with that sort of question (Do you want to go to heaven?) if they have no idea what heaven is?
For some people, going to hell sounds better than going to heaven. Do you remember Mark Twain’s character Huck Finn? In the story he is told this version of the gospel and when he asks the sweet lady if Tom Sawyer will be in heaven, she responds with an emphatic, “No!” Huck Finn then opts out of going to heaven because his best friend won’t be there.
Let us be reminded that heaven is here and now, if we want it. As Dallas Willard says, “The fires of heaven are hotter than the fires of hell.” Our God is a consuming fire. Everything around the throne, according to Ezekiel, is on fire. If you want “fire-insurance,” you should probably go to hell.
Fire must rain down on this generation, but it is a flame of love and mercy. I’m so tired of seeing flyers and posters of fire representing hell in order to scare people into heaven, when fire is wherever God is! The very scandal of the cross of Jesus Christ is revealed to all men, but to most it is crazy logic: Why would God choose to reverse the logic of redemptive violence and show us what we do to ourselves? It makes no sense unless we embody the very life we are calling others into.
What is heaven? For many it is hell. Do not be crestfallen.
We need to reveal heaven:
Step 1: Do you want to encounter God?
Step 2: Let me tell you the story of all stories.
Step 3: The Kingdom of God is at hand!
Step 4: Yes, come into the Kingdom.
Step 5: Process Jesus differently from this day forward.
Step 6: Do this for other people.