Country music artist, Alan Jackson, had a #1 hit song back in 2001 entitled “Where I Come From.” The refrain repeats these lyrics:
I said where I come from
It’s cornbread and chicken
Where I come from a lotta front porch sittin’
Where I come from tryin’ to make a livin’
And workin’ hard to get to heaven
Where I come from
Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, definitely comes from a different place than Alan Jackson! But evidently he shares the sentiment of “working hard to get heaven.” In a recent interview with New York Times Jermey W. Peters, Bloomberg reflected on his legacy. Peters said he was “introspective as he spoke….restless and wistful.”
Then speaking of his work on gun safety, fighting obesity and smoking cessation, Bloomberg asserted, “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.”
Really? Are you serious, Mr. Mayor?
If this hadn’t been reported in several reliable news sources, I would have thought this was a satirical piece from The Onion or The Daily Currant. I have three thoughts about Mayor Bloomberg’s statement.
First, I would suggest that Mr. Bloomberg is off to a bad start on his heavenly quest by saying “If there is a God…”
The Bible begins with the assumption that God exist. “In the beginning, God…(Gen.1:1). The Psalmist declared, “The heavens declare the glory of God…” (Ps 19:1). All nature shouts “There is a God!”
Anyone who desires to go to heaven must possess absolute faith in God. The Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6).
Secondly, if I make it heaven, I’m not telling God what I will do and not do! If he wants Peter to interview me before I enter in, I’ll take the time! After all, I’ve got all of eternity to enjoy heaven. It sounds a little more than arrogant to boldly affirm what you will do or not do when it comes to God’s reward for the righteous.
But thirdly, you cannot earn heaven! No one will enter heaven because of their good works. Or their fortune. Or their fame.
Eternal salvation is the gift of God’s grace. The apostle Paul, who once wrote, “by the grace of God, I am what I am,” reminds us that we can’t save ourselves “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor.” It is that which affords pleasure, delight, or joy that comes from divine favor. Grace bestows blessings on another that is not earned.
John affirms that “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17). It was the love of God that issued his grace and mercy in the person of Jesus. He gave up the riches of heaven. He became flesh. He denied himself of his privileges and became a bond-servant. He died for our sins. Grace! Indeed! Amazing grace makes salvation possible.
The Bible expresses this profound and spiritually challenging concept in these words.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
Since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, we need his grace. We need the gospel. We need Jesus. We haven’t earned heaven! It’s not even close!
–-Ken Weliever, The Preacherman