What has Jesus got to do with a soccer match? Do you need the right ticket for heaven?
In my hometown Leer there is a small football stadium. When the senior team played an away team on Sundays, the stadium was usually packed to bursting. Especially when our club ‘Germania Leer’ played against the football club ‘Kickers Emden’. As boys of about 10 – 12, we usually didn’t have the money to buy a ticket. Then we tried to get into the stadium illegally. We used tin snips to cut a hole in the fence covered with bags and slipped through. I remember very well when suddenly a ticket inspector appeared and asked to see my ticket. Of course I didn’t. Then he pulled me by the ear and promoted me out of the stadium in a high arc, shouting at me, “Don’t ever show your face here again without a valid ticket!”
The Wedding Feast
I have never been able to get that experience out of my mind. It reminds me of a story Jesus relayed to us when it came to who would and would not be allowed to partake of His wedding feast one day. Then suddenly people had appeared at his wedding table who had entered the hall illegally. Then the master of the house asked these people, “How did you get in here? You’re not wearing wedding dresses! Your clothes are dirty and filthy! And he threw them out in a high arc.
Many people are trying to get into the kingdom of God, into heaven, without a valid ticket. They think that it is enough to live a reasonably decent life, not to kill anyone and to go to church once in a while, at least at Christmas. God should be pleased with you. Others try to come closer to God on the path of spirituality. Still others say that every person returns to God because everyone is a part of God. Is that right? Is every human being a part of God? It is true that every human being is a creation of God. Just as a painter makes a creation when he paints a picture, the picture itself is not a part of the painter. The picture is outside the painter. It is a creation of the painter.
Whoever claims that man is a part of God has not thought this thought through to its logical conclusion. If this were true, then ‘the parts of God’, so to speak, accomplish evil in the world. So ultimately God himself and his parts! This thought leads to absolute absurdity. But it is also such a loophole through which some think they can enter the kingdom of God in this illegal way. Many try to be a good person. They take Jesus as their model and think that although they cannot quite reach him in his selfless love, their good will would most likely be recognized by God. This is what the German humanism of Goethe and Schiller, for example, preached: Let man be helpful, noble and good! Or in Goethe’s Faust: “Whoever strives, we can redeem!” Is man helpful and good?
Looking into this world, the appeals of humanism have unfortunately achieved little. If man had acted according to this well-intentioned imperative, there would have been no Holocaust, no World War II, and no atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Jesus is right when he says about the human race: “Ye that are evil!” And if some are of the opinion that many are just bad, but not all, whereby the representatives of this view naturally count themselves among the good, then such people have not yet really recognized and experienced the depths of the abysses of their own hearts. How many murderers were shocked at themselves and testified that they never thought they could kill anyone. Jesus says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!” No one is without sin. Those who believe this are deceiving themselves.
The abyss is too deep
The belief in the goodness of man is also such a loophole through which many believe they can enter the kingdom of God this way. This way is also an illegal one in God’s eyes. A simple example may show how abysmally man’s relationship with God is destroyed by just one sin: A single crack in a pane of glass is enough, and the whole pane is broken. A single sin of man is enough, and the connection to God is destroyed. The abyss between holy God and sinful man is so deep that sinful man is never able on his own to cross this abyss and pay the price for his sin before God.
When, as a twelve-year-old boy, I realised that the only way I could get into the football stadium was legally, but I couldn’t pay the entrance fee, I turned to my father. He paid the entrance fee for me. So I was able to walk into the stadium legally through the entrance, beaming with joy. Aren’t we in the same situation as this boy? We too cannot pay the price to go to heaven.
The price is too high
The price is way too high. For there is none so pure, so holy, so without sin, as to enter into heaven. That’s when Heavenly Father Himself paid the price for us. He sent His Son into our world, who willingly went out of love for us to the place where we should have gone because of our sin: to the cross! For sin is punishable by death with God! God is not the ‘dear God’ who cannot do anything to a ‘good German’. God is a holy and righteous God who punishes sin with death.
But God is not only just. He is also love! That is why he came in the form of his Son and took upon himself the death penalty we deserved because of our sin. So this is what his love for us looks like. The Bible says:
“For God so loved the world (you and me!) that He gave His only Son for us, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). This is the only legal way that is accepted by God to go to heaven. This way is called: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!”Acts 16, 31
No church, no apostle or chief apostle can save us
So you can safely do without all the illegal ways. God Himself shows you in His Word, the Bible, the only right way to Him. Jesus said:
I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to God except through me! And Jesus says, “I am the door. Whoever enters through me will be saved!” No one else can save us but Jesus alone! Neither a church nor an apostle or chief apostle has reconciled us to God.
Jesus alone did that by dying on the cross! The apostle Peter says, “There is salvation in no other, neither is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus. When you bring your sin to Jesus, confess it to Him, and sincerely repent of it, He forgives your sin. If you continue on this path with Jesus, He will bring you to the safe destination. Then you have the right ticket to heaven.
God bless you!
© Anselm Schönfeld
We recommend the translation of the Bible by Franz Eugen Schlachter in the 2000 version