For the Sake of Everyone Else

Why We Don’t Go Straight to Heaven When We Die

By Linda Canup
  • May 27, 2015

I don’t know about you, but when I became a Christian, I wasn’t thinking about anyone other than myself. I realized I was in a troublesome situation (I wasn’t going to get to heaven on my own and the default track led to hell.) And I wanted to be SAVED.

I was in it to save my own skin, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how salvation works. It’s a personal act between you and God—it really can’t be about anyone else.

That is, until after you’re saved. In his article “Anticipating the Lord’s Return,” Dr. Stanley says:

Why does Jesus leave us here on earth after He saves us? Why aren’t we born again, then immediately taken into the Lord’s presence? Because we still have work to do!

First, God calls us to win souls. We are to be the Lord’s witnesses—telling of the love of God and the atoning death of Jesus Christ. We are to testify about what He has done in our own lives, both with our words and by our example. So long as there remains a soul on earth who hasn’t heard the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have work to do!

Second, we are to grow spiritually, developing an ever-increasing intimacy with the Lord. None of us fully lives up to our spiritual potential. We all have room to grow. In those areas where we discover we are unlike Christ, we must work with the Spirit to become conformed to His likeness. Our minds must be renewed (Rom. 12:1). Our inner hurts and emotions must be healed. We must grow in spiritual discernment and in the wisdom of God. Our faith must be strengthened and used so that our prayers and our actions more effectively build up the Lord’s kingdom.

Are you alive in Christ? Then it’s not just about you anymore. It’s now about God and about others (Mark 12:30-31). We might choose to pursue a career, money, charity, or something else that gives us a false sense of personal fulfillment, but as Christians, we cannot find complete satisfaction in these things. If we refuse to grow in our faith or to share the good news of salvation with others, then we’re living like the dead (James 2:14-26).

Since you’re reading this article, I’ll assume you’re not actually dead. So if you’re a Christian, then there’s just one question you need to ask yourself: With whom will you share the precious gift of life that’s been given to you?

Dr. Stanley shares two more things we should do as we look forward to Christ’s coming in his article, “Life Principle 30: Anticipating the Lord’s Return.”

Related Topics:  Spiritual Life  |  Growth of a Believer  |  Evangelism

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1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.


31 The second is this, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,

16 and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18 But someone may well say, You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?

22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;

23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God.

24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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