Many years ago you were convicted of your personal sin and learned that the wages of sin is eternal death to be spent in everlasting hell fire. A preacher showed you in the Bible that God sent his only Son to redeem you personally by dying on the cross, thus paying sin's price for you. You did not want to burn in hell forever. At the church altar that night you prayed a sinner's prayer with the preacher and trusted Christ as your personal saviour. You understood that Christ had paid in full with his blood your personal ticket to eternal life. You were baptized that very night. Then what?
by Jerry Gentry
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (1Co 3:15).
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (v. 16).
"If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (v. 17).
There was once a man travelling on an airplane nonstop from New York to Seattle. He was a businessman, dressed in an impeccable pinstripe suit and tie. He carried his prepaid ticket in his suit pocket, paid for by his boss at work. Somewhere over the Midwest at thirty thousand feet the stewardess asked this businessman if he would like something to drink. He promptly reached out and struck the serving tray, knocking it from her hand, striking it to the floor.
Startled, the stewardess lunged backward, saying, "Don't do that!" As she reached down to retrieve the tray, the businessman whapped her across the upper thigh with his open hand. Quickly the stewardess dashed to the cockpit and told the Captain what had happened. Turning over the controls immediately to the copilot, the Captain of this transcontinental flight walked calmly back to the businessman's seat and confronted him with his misbehavior.
"Sir, what have you done?" inquired the Captain. The businessman said nothing but reached up and took a firm grip on the Captain's tie. Taking out his pen knife, he slashed the tie off and with a grin on his face he tossed the tie into the air as if he were enjoying this foolish caper. The Captain, doing his job well, continued to make dialogue with the offending businessman in an effort to keep the situation under control.
"You know you should not behave like this, Sir," the Captain stated. "You are endangering the lives of many people on this airplane." The businessman, still buckled up for safety, merely smiled back, saying, "My ticket is paid for by my boss, and I am going to Seattle."
The Captain replied, "Yes, Sir, your ticket is paid for and you are safely on this plane headed for Seattle, thanks to our competent copilot. But you are misbehaving and there will be consequences to face when you reach Seattle."
"Consequences, queried the businessman? I already told you, my ticket is prepaid and I am on this flight to Seattle to attend an important meeting. I should be there shortly." He then reached his foot into the aisle and kicked the Captain on the shin.
"Yes, in about ten minutes from now you should be in Seattle, if you will behave yourself," reminded the Captain, nursing his bruised leg.
The Captain talked and reasoned with the businessman through touchdown and all the way to full stop at the gate where the doors were opened and a large team of FBI agents dressed in impressive suits of their own escorted the misbehaving businessman away in handcuffs.
"But my ticket is paid for, and I am going to Seattle," protested the businessman.
"Yes, your ticket is paid for, and for sure you are now in Seattle," an FBI agent replied, promptly reading the businessman his rights and stuffing him into the back seat of a police car headed for jail.
"But, here, look at my ticket. . .," pleaded the businessman, to which the FBI agent chuckled, saying something like, "Yeah, sure."
By now you are wondering what this outrageous story could possibly have to do with your personal salvation. Very much, indeed, friend.
If you are saved, Jesus Christ is your boss, your Lord, or He should be (Acts 2:36). He is also the Captain of your salvation (Hebr. 2:10). He bought your ticket with His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1Pe 2:24) and sent you on a trip to eternal life (1Cor. 7:23). He sent you on that trip for a purpose to do a job&emdash; "that they [men] may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). He lives in you (Col. 1:27) and provides daily guidance&emdash;"a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Ps. 119:105) for the duration of your trip. You are admonished to please God and not misbehave on your trip, as the businessman misbehaved (1Ths. 4:1). If you misbehave in route you will still arrive at your destination of eternal life. God's irresistible grace and sovereignty are greater than all your misbehavior which thankfully makes it impossible to reroute your flight to death in hell. Once you are saved you have eternal life which will never be taken away. But does that ticket to eternal life also entitle you to misbehave during the trip, as the businessman misbehaved on his trip? A thousand times, NO!
You may misbehave (sin) and still arrive at eternal life (Eph. 2:8) just as the misbehaving businessman still arrived in Seattle. Your sin debt is fully prepaid, just as the businessman's ticket was fully prepaid. But just as the misbehaving businessman who arrived in Seattle went to jail instead of to his important meeting, you, the misbehaving Christian, will arrive at heaven's gate to receive a far lesser reward than possible. Friend, where in eternal life will you be stationed? Will you be a king over 10 cities (Luke 19:17)? Five cities? (Luke 19:19). That is, will you receive your full reward? Or will you let another better than you take your crown (Rev. 3:11). You will be least in the kingdom because you misbehaved in this life (Matt. 5:19). If you will behave, you will uphold the law of God (Eccl. 12:13). "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10).
Even though you now carry a prepaid ticket to eternal life with Jesus Christ, you will have heaven to pay on arrival, due to willful misbehavior and disobedience! Yes, beloved forgiven Christian, your Captain (Jesus Christ) reasons and pleads with you daily now to make your calling and election sure (2Pet. 1:10). He is not about to kick you off the plane, (once you are saved you are always saved) but he pleads that you stop misbehaving during the flight. Will heaven's FBI agents (angels) meet you at the pearly gates, and escort you off to some lowly menial job, some lesser reward? Will you carry a broom or run a popcorn stand in heaven's kingdom? Will your "mansion" be so small you can carry it with you in a shopping cart as one of heaven's street people? Friend, now is the day of salvation (2Cor. 6:2). Now is the day to make your calling and election sure. Now is the day to work the works of God, for "the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4) Now is the time to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).
Are you like the misbehaving businessman, so focused on his destination of Seattle, that he felt no responsibility to behave throughout the trip? Are you so focused on heaven, eternal life and the kingdom that you are forgetting the very purpose for which your boss (Jesus Christ) sent you on the trip? Are you so heavenly minded that you have become of no earthly good? If so, here are five steps to get your heart right with God and do the works which validate your heavenly ticket to eternal life and the kingdom:
1) Repent of your backslidden ways and get your Christian act together. Put on Christ, even if you don't feel like it (Gal. 3:27). Show some respect for God and gratefulness to fellow man. Stop your complaining and gross misbehavior. Stop playing church. Friend, get real with God and man and straighten up. When somebody spreads a lie about you, praise God that they didn't tell the truth which would have been for worse! Amen? God's longsuffering does not outreach his judgment (Eccl. 8:11). Friend, when He comes, His sword is bathed in heaven to execute judgment upon earth's wicked men (Isa. 34:5). Remember, you are saved, but scarcely (1Pet. 4:18). Fear God and keep his commandments.
2) Bring forth fruits meet for repentance (Matt. 3:8). Recapture your first love for God and his great truth by doing the first works (Rev. 2:4-5). What are first works? Witness to sinners the saving grace of Jesus Christ (Prov. 11:30). Glorify God through good works (Matt. 5:16; 1Co 6:20). Show your faith by your works (James 2:18). Let your light shine. Stop the pity party! Get happy by finding somebody to serve and meet their needs.
3) Repent and be accountable. Your shepherd watches for your soul (Hebr. 13:17). Are you a grief to him? Or do you bring joy to his heart? Do you whine more than you praise? Do you gripe more than you serve? Do you frown more than you smile? If the answer is yes to any of the above, friend, you are overdue for the rod of God. Judge yourself now, that you be not soon judged and condemned with the world (1Cor. 11:32).
4) When you fall, get up and go on. Don't quit. Try again. Practice makes perfect. Remember the saying about true Christians: We don't quit, and we do win! The victory is yours for the taking (1Cor. 15:57). Jesus Christ won that victory at great price. Name it and claim it, the victory, that is!
5) Rejoice! I say rejoice! "Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires" (Isa. 24:15). When the fires of adversity get hot, consider it God's love and mercy to make you hotter for Him, to kindle your fires for the faith and to burn away your chaff, your misbehavior.
Saved! That's what for!