I'll never make the mistake of booking a hotel room without asking for a reservation number again.
Right at the beginning of the Internet Age, when Priceline was just starting up, I booked a hotel room in a city I would be traveling through later that week, and the price was RIGHT! It was late at night when I pulled up to the hotel and checked in at the front desk, only to hear, "We didn't think you were coming. We gave that room to someone else." Even though I had given a credit card number and 'booked' the room, my arrival was so late that they had assumed I wasn't going to be able to make it.
Sometimes people think of God's promise of heaven for His people with the same guardedness that I've developed for online reservations - how can I know for sure? What will really be waiting for me when I get there? I don't want to settle for a wait-and-see approach - I don't want any surprises. I want to be ready, so when I breathe my last breath, I know which direction I'm headed.
The apostle Peter informs us of the heavenly reservation we can claim through Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 1:3-5 we read, "(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
Peter assures people just like you and me that we can gain confidence in going to heaven
with 4 'certainties:'
1. Our certainty is based on God's mercy - verse 3. 'Mercy' means withholding a deserved punishment - God's mercy allows a way for each of us to escape our deserved punishment - eternal death in hell - by transferring the guilt of our individual sins onto His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Heaven is not a place any of us can earn by our good behavior or good deeds; God's mercy alone allows a way for entrance. When we trust in God's provision of forgiveness - Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross - we call out to God to acknowledge that our faith is in Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. His death provides the payment for our sins; His resurrection secures everlasting life for us.
2. Our certainty is based on new birth - verse 3. The Bible uses the term 'born again' to refer
to a total spiritual transformation. The effect of turning to Jesus Christ for forgiveness doesn't
wait until death for rescue from sin - Jesus begins His reconstruction immediately by renovating our heart and desires to love Him and His righteousness. This new birth into Christ's family is initiated through asking Him to save us from sin and hell, and this new birth is what should make Christians noticeably different than secular individuals - we love God more than anything else in our lives.
3. Our certainty is based on God's promised reservation - verse 4. God Himself makes the
reservation in His heaven on your behalf. If you are a Christian, there is a place RIGHT NOW
waiting for you in heaven!
4. Our certainty is in God's power - verse 5 - not our own religious efforts. Our salvation will
be completed the day we stand before Him face to face, rescued and adopted and transformed
in everlasting life in heaven with Him.
There's no need for wait-and-see; you can believe-and-know what is waiting for you on that last
Day. Believe in Jesus - His position as God's Son, His death on the cross in your place, His
resurrection from the dead to offer you new life. Do you have reservations, or do you have His