Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 12, 2010

“How to Get to Heaven From Fredericksburg” John 3:1-17

That raises some emotions on several levels, doesn’t it?

The voices recall the horror and pain of the 9-11 attacks.

The song echoes the cry of our lost generation desperately looking for answers to the big questions of life.

And, pertinent to the topic of this morning, we remember that those terrorists who flew the planes into the towers, and the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania were doing so in the hopes of obtaining a place in Heaven.

I don’t think that worked out too well for them. What do you think?

We can’t fault them for wanting to get to Heaven. Everyone is interested in Heaven, but obviously, not everyone knows how to get there.”

Let me ask you a question. “What are you doing to try to make it to Heaven?”

If someone where to ask you, “How do I get to Heaven from Fredericksburg, VA, would you be able to give them directions?” “Do you know how to get there?”

This morning I want to answer that question. I want to show you how to get to Heaven from Fredericksburg, VA.

How are you with directions? I’m pretty good with directions, but then – I’m a man. Men always know where they are and where they are going and how to get there. We never get lost!

But just so you don’t have to take my word for it, let me rely on an even more reliable source. Someone like – JESUS!

In the Gospel of John, there is a story about a man named Nicodemus (great name isn’t it?) who came to Jesus wanting to know how to get to Heaven.

How about if we eavesdrop on this conversation and see what we can learn from Nicodemus and Jesus?

You’ve Got To Know Who To Ask, Vv. 1-2

Asking the wrong person doesn’t help much.

Nicodemus didn’t make that mistake he came to the right person. He came to Jesus. If you need directions to Heaven Jesus would be your Guy!
So, how do you know who to ask? How did Nicodemus know where to go?

1) Jesus had authority – “we know you are a teacher come from God”

2) Jesus had authenticity – “For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."

Nicodemus was drawn to Jesus because Jesus reflected the reality of God in His life.

You’ve Got To Know Where You Are, Vv. 3-7

What did Nicodemus discover?

Why would a guy a good as and as religious as Nicodemus have to worry about how to get to Heaven?

What was Jesus saying? – Basically – “YOU’RE LOST!”

Lost = “separated from God”.

You are born lost and unless you do something about it you will die lost.

What you need to do is be “born again”………..

You’ve Got To Know Where You Want To Go, Vv. 5

What is “the Kingdom of God?”

If you want to be in His Kingdom you must know Him as your King!

Jesus knew that Nicodemus wanted to be sure about Heaven. Jesus was right – as usual.


Go to Stop Sign – John 3:19-21 – Stop Sinning
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Make a U-Turn - Acts 17:30 – Repent
"God overlooked people's ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.

Go to Yield Sign – John 3:36 – Surrender to Faith
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Merge Right - I John 1:8-10 – Confess – Agree With God
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

Stay In Your Lane - I John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Follow those directions and you can arrive in Heaven. Why not program them into your GPS – your God Positioning System.

Professional golfer, Paul Azinger was 33 when he was diagnosed with cancer. At the time he had won ten PGA tournaments and was coming off his first major win at the PGA Championship.

He wrote, "A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when.

Everything I had accomplished in golf became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live."
Then he remembered something that Larry Moody, who teaches a Bible study on the tour, had said to him. "Zinger, we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living."

Golfer Paul Azinger recovered from chemotherapy and returned to the PGA tour. He’s done pretty well. But that bout with cancer deepened his perspective. He wrote, "I’ve made a lot of money since I’ve been on the tour, and I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but that happiness is always temporary. The only way you will ever have true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I don’t have problems, but I feel like I’ve found the answer to the six-foot hole."

Nicodemus came to Jesus looking for directions from the land of the dying to the land of the living. Jesus showed him the way. We don’t know for sure if he made the commitment. It is too late for him now.

But what about you? You now know how to get to Heaven from Fredericksburg, VA? But will you follow directions? Will you be prepared to leave the land of the dying and get to the land of the living?

You’ve Got To Know What’s At Stake, Vv. 8-17

Here is where this analogy breaks down a little. If you get lost while traveling – if you get back directions, or if mapquest is misleading or if your GPS gets a bad signal – you may lose miles, or waste time or burn up some gasoline – but you will eventually get where you need to be.

But, if you miss God’s Kingdom – if you are not born again and you get lost you are lost forever!

Imagine a Dove of Peace. The dove picks just one grain of sand from a beach and takes it to Mars. It takes the dove 4 years to get there and 4 years to get back. It is an 8 year journey and the bird does that until every grain of sand is gone from earth. That is eternity and it goes on forever.

Imagine a huge planet made of steel, floating in space. Every one trillion years a mosquito would slowly come fluttering by and just barely flick the planet with its wing, and fly away. When a trillion more years go by, the mosquito comes again and flicks the steel, until eventually the mosquito has rubbed the planet away.

At stake is your ETERNAL destination. Where will you spend eternity? You know, eternity as in FOREVER!

If you spent that eternity in Heaven – eternity won’t seem long at all. Every second will be filled with unimaginable joy!

But, if you miss Heaven and end up in Hell a second will seem like eternity!