The New York Times interviewed former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg about his investment of $50 million to advocate for gun control. An the end of the article he said this:
Mr. Bloomberg was introspective as he spoke, and seemed both restless and wistful. When he sat down for the interview, it was a few days before his 50th college reunion. His mortality has started dawning on him, at 72. And he admitted he was a bit taken aback by how many of his former classmates had been appearing in the “in memoriam” pages of his school newsletter.
But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
Much could be said about his comments about heaven, but there are a couple of points to make here. One’s advocacy, whether conservative or liberal, doesn’t earn a place in heaven. Secondly if he’s not certain about the existence of God he demonstrates great hubris in his certainty about earning a place in heaven.
The Bible is very, very clear that NO ONE earns their place in heaven. Our good works (or at least what we deem to be good works) are like filthy rags to God, (Isaiah 64:6). A perusal of Romans 3 is also quite sobering if you hold to that point of view.
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:9-23, ESV).
Fortunately the Apostle Paul continues in Romans 3… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith,” (Romans 3:23-25a, ESV).
In case that still doesn’t sink in we seen in Romans 6, that the “wages of sin is death.” What Mayor Bloomberg, you and I have “earned” is spiritual death. Again fortunately that isn’t the end of the story. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23, ESV).
This weekend we mark the great sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, but not only that we celebrate a risen Savior who didn’t wait for us to be cleaned up. He didn’t wait for us to check off a check list. In Romans 5 we see, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:6-8, ESV).
In the Gospel of John we that it is through belief in Jesus that we can become children of God. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:12-13, ESV).
If anyone, Mayor Bloomberg included, want to be assured of heaven, it is through Jesus not anything we do. Only in Jesus can we have the hope of heaven. Trust in anything else would be misplaced.
Photo credit: Ralph Alswang (CC-By-ND 2.0)