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A recent survey found that 77% of Americans believe in Heaven, and 76% say their chances of going to heaven are good or excellent.
Apparently, our job of evangelism is almost done- since nearly 8 out of 10 are headed for the streets of gold...right?
Then again, this survey never got past the surface questions. I wonder what the percentage would have been if the inquiries would have dug just a little deeper. It would have been so easy to slip in a quick follow up question:
"Since you believe that you are going to heaven, let me ask you this: why do you think you deserve to go there?"
Of course, once you drop that line, all manner of weirdness breaks out. Believe me; I think I've just about heard it all. Everything from alien connections to karma to even atheism. That's right- I've spoken with atheists who believe they are going to heaven.
Generally what it boiled down to, though, was that most people believe they are pretty good. Good enough, in fact, to not have to end up in hell...therefore heaven must be their destiny.
Isn't that just like us Americans? As long as were not as bad as some people, we're sure to be headed for Paradise. So we take a mixture of belief systems, movie messages, conversations, and relatively harmless verses from a multitude of religious texts and-poof- everyone has there own made to order religion that's sure to end up all good.
The truth is that it is not going to end up all good. This survey reminds me of the rich and beautiful people on the Titanic who were drinking champagne and playing games with chunks of the iceberg while the ship was rapidly taking them to their deaths. I'm sure that more than 77% of them believed that everything was going to be alright- but the reality turned out to be very different than they expected.
"Knowing the correct password--saying "Master, Master,' for instance--isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience--doing what my Father wills. I can see it now--at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, "Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? "You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.' (Matthew 7:21-23- The Message)
Apparently there were lots of folks in His day who thought they were going to heaven as well. Jesus is plainly warning them that it is not a matter of religious works- but one of righteous faith.
We're asking the wrong questions. Many evangelistic techniques try to persuade a person to want to go to heaven. I've got news for you- most people already do! The issue for them is not whether heaven exists, or even if they believe they are going. The key is *why* they think they are going. It boils down to believing vs. behaving. If works could get us into heaven, then why did Jesus waste His time by coming to earth and dying a horrible death? As well- I think deep down most people- no matter what they say outwardly- know that they don't deserve heaven. Yet instead of facing that awful truth and turning to Christ- they decide instead to keep drinking the champagne of false religions and playing the games of denial and positive thinking.
Meanwhile the ship continues to go down.
How should we respond to this survey? The same way that of the greatest preachers who ever lived encouraged his congregation:
"Brethren, do something; do something, do something! While societies and unions make constitutions, let us win souls. I pray you, be men of action all of you. Get to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suvarov's idea of war is mine: `Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form a column! Charge bayonets! Plunge into the center of the enemy! Our one aim is to win souls; and this we are not to talk about, but do in the power of God!" - Charles Spurgeon
Dare 2 Share is a church assisting ministry that provides resources for youth leaders and equips teens to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Over 1,400 of these resources are provided completely FREE! D2S also conducts nationwide youth evangelism training conferences. The events are structured for students in junior high and high school, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. Regardless of gender or denomination, D2S teaches from a Christian perspective. D2S is based in Denver, Colorado and has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 teens since 1991.
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