Three Steps to Heaven, Pt. 1

Three Steps to Heaven, Pt. 1

If there was a railroad stretching after the sun, a streamlined train traveling 90 miles an hour, and going nonstop, day after day, it would take 116 years to reach Sunny Land.
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Joe Crews: If there was a railroad stretching after the sun, a streamlined train traveling 90 miles an hour, and going nonstop, day after day, it would take 116 years to reach Sunny Land. An airplane traveling 500 miles per hour and going nonstop, day after day, year after year, century after century. Believe it or not, it would take five million years to reach to the nearest big star. But far up there- [crosstalk]

Doug: If takes so long to travel through space to planets and stars, how long would it take to get to heaven itself? Today, Amazing Facts Evangelist Joe Crews answers that question in his crusade topic, Three Steps To Heaven.

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Joe: If there could be a highway to the moon, it would take 20 months of constant driving at the rate of 400 miles per day to reach the moon. If there was a railroad stretching after the sun, a streamlined train traveling 90 miles an hour and going nonstop day after day, it would take 116 years to reach Sunny Land. An airplane traveling 500 miles per hour and going nonstop, day after day, year after year, century after century, believe it or not, it would take five million years to reach the nearest big star. But, far up there beyond the sun, moon and the stars lies the golden gates of God's great heavenly sky city.

Nobody knows how far it is in miles and surely, no one will ever develop a space vehicle for going there. But I can tell you tonight friends that every one of us can get there in just three simple steps if we so choose to do it tonight. In the book of Revelation, we find John there having a vision. He saw a great multitude of people standing on the sea of glass in front of the throne of God and they were dressed in white clothing. They had on crowns of glory and palms of victory in their hands. Now listen, that white garment, those clothes represented purity from sin. In other words, these people had their sins forgiven.

The Bible says, "Nothing that defileth will go into the City of God," Revelation 21:27. Of course, sin is the only thing that the defiles as far as God is concerned. These people standing there in their white garments are represented as being without sin, which means that their sins are forgiven. That brings us tonight to that first great, big giant step that I want to talk about in going from Earth to heaven, having our sins forgiven. Now, I believe with all my heart friends that multitudes of people would like to take this step tonight, but do not know how to do it.

They're living in this world, they're groping around in the darkness of this world, hoping, praying, longing for somebody to come along who can tell them in simple practical language, how to get rid of their sins and how to have their sins forgiven. You see friends, you can't just tell somebody to be saved and leave it at that. You have to explain to them, you have to lead them simply step by step in the process of salvation. The doctor doesn't just tell a patient, "Look, you're sick, you're diseased, and you need to be well," he tells that patient how to get well.

He gives a prescription to that person and shows them how they can really regain their health or to counteract this sickness by giving them some medicine or some treatment. In the same way, we can't just tell young people, "Look, you're a sinner, you're lost and you need to be saved." We've got to show that young person how to come to Christ and how to be saved. Now, tonight, we're going to try to bring this subject down to the very lowest common denominator, a speech that we can find so that'll be simple. It'll be clear, it'll be understandable. Even the little children who are here today, I want them to be able to go out of here and know exactly what it means to be saved.

I think many people are like this little girl who was walking along the street one day, sobbing her heart out, a kind-hearted minister met her along the way there and bent over to try to comfort her a little. He said, "What's the matter, honey? What's wrong? What do you want?" The little girl sobbed and she said, "Oh, I want to be found." You see, she was lost and she wanted somebody to come along and find her and take her home, and all there are so many people today who are lost and they need somebody my friends to come along and show them the way and lead them into this beautiful experience of being saved.

Now, the first big step that we'll be talking about tonight then is having our sins forgiven. I put down three conditions to taking this first step. Three things that we have to do in order to know that our sins have really been forgiven, and the first one is a big, old, long theological word and I don't want you to be frightened by it. You might say, brother, Joe, I don't like for you to talk to me in those big long terms. I'm going to make this very clear, but the word is theological, all right, it's repentance. It's repentance. You say, "Well, what does that mean?" Don't worry. We're going to know now and just a few minutes exactly what repentance is.

First of all, let me explain this, what are we to repent of? What are we to repent of? Let's go to our first text tonight, in Romans 3:23, one of the most major versus I suppose in the Bible, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Now, notice friends, it says that every person has sinned, now that includes every individual who's listening to this program, as well as all of those who are in this auditorium tonight, every individual in the world has transgressed the law of God, has come short of the glory of God, has fallen under the penalty of the law and is guilty of sin.

Now, let me tell you why everybody's committed sin, because, even the little babies who are born in this world have been born with a fallen nature, with a carnal nature. We speak of it in those terms, and this nature is naturally inclined to disobey. As soon as that little baby gets old enough to make a decision, it starts choosing to sin, it starts choosing to disobey, why? Because, it's got a twisted, perverted nature by birth, and that nature leads it to do wrong and my friends, there's not a thing that any of us can do about it in our own strength and by our own efforts to correct the condition.

It's something basic, it's something deep down inside that you and I do not have a control of, and so we can make all the kind decisions we want to make. As soon as we're born into this world. As soon as we're old enough to do that. We can get all kinds of education if we want to, we can get polish and poise and culture and all the rest of it and put a lot of nice external things on the life, but I still tell you according to the Bible, deep down inside, we're still carnal. We're still so to understand according to the Bible and we cannot change that condition by all of our efforts.

The Bible says that the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. The prophet Jeremiah put it another way, he asked this question, can the Ethiopian change his skin? Can the leopard change his spots? Then he said, "How can you that are accustomed to evil? How can you do good?" Well, we can't. We cannot lift ourselves by our own bootstraps. That is impossible and that's why we cannot change things by our efforts. Now, here is my next question friends, what are the wages of sin? We can do our second text tonight in Romans 6:23, a most familiar verse, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Now, how many people have sinned, we said a moment ago? How many? All have sinned, that means, everybody in this room, and the wages of sin is what? Is death. Let me ask you something my friends, how does it feel to be living in death row tonight? Now, of course, many of you are not living in death row, because you've accepted the one way of escape that we're going to be talking about tonight. But, somewhere along the line, every person who has ever been born in this world has come to a consciousness of being separated from God, of being guilty, of being under the penalty of death and waiting for that death blow to fall upon them.

Every individual has felt that friends because, all have sinned and we're all guilty, and there's not a court in the universe to which you can appeal and have that death sentence reversed because, the fact is that, we are guilty, just as guilty as sin. That sentence stands, it remains there. Now, you may say to me tonight, Brother Joe, how are we to deal with this problem then if all of us are guilty and all of us are sinners and all of us have come into this sentence of death, then how are we ever going to get out from under it? How will we ever escape from this terrible condemnation and this penalty?

I can tell you right now, friends, I can tell you right now that we can't do it by going ahead and paying the penalty for our own sin. Somebody might say, "Well, this is the only thing to do if we are guilty, and if the law has condemned us and if we're under the condemnation of the law, and death is the ultimatum, then we'll have to go ahead and satisfy the demands of the law and pay the penalty that's against this and that's the only thing to do." That may sound very nice friends, but there's a little bit of problem on that. If you go ahead and die for your own sins, you can't resurrect yourself then, can you? You'd be death eternally, you would be lost forever. There would be no hope for you.

Now you may go and satisfy the penalty and you may get yourself out from under the death sentence but, that leaves you there completely and eternally separated from God and with no hope at all. No, that's not a very good answer to this problems friends. In fact, finally, you know what we have to do? Finally, we have to realize and recognize that we owe something that we can't pay. We really do. We all are very lies because of sin and if we pay that debt, then we're lost forever. We have to say, "Well, we owe something we can't pay." It just like, you went down and run-up a bill of the grocery store that you couldn't pay.

Suppose, some month, you decide that you want to really put everything on the cart. In other words, you want to put it on the box and pay everything at the end of the month. You buy this and you buy that and that you run-up a $100 bill during the month intending to pay of course at the end of that month. When the time comes, you don't have the money and you can't pay that $100. You're embarrassed, you're ashamed. You don't even want to go in and meet that storekeeper because of this debt you owe. You start going to another store to buy your food. Then let's say, a friend of yours comes along and he understands the predicament that you're in.

This friend goes down and puts down the $100 and says, "Look, here I want to pay my friend's debt. I'm giving you this money now, put it on his account, pay his bill, I'm responsible." That's pretty nice to have a friend like that, isn't it? Suppose it happened to me and my friend goes down and says, "Here it is now, pay this bill for Joe Crews." Now friends, I don't have to accept it if I don't want to. I could rush down there and say to the storekeeper, "Look, that's my bill. That's my debt and I want to take care of it. You give that money back to my friend. I will take care of myself." Now I could do that.

I could do that my friend, but it'd be very foolish of me to refuse to accept the offer of my friend. Now, listen, every one of us who are listening to my voice right now have also come into this position of owing something that you can't pay. You owe your life because of sin and Jesus comes along. This friend comes along and He offers to take your place and pay that debt and satisfy the man's against you. Do you know that millions of people are refusing to accept that offer of Jesus? I want to tell you tonight my friends that, no greater offer has been made to anybody by anybody else except Jesus.

Coming along and saying, "Look, I will take your place and pay your debt and die your debt and satisfy the death sentence against you." Look at all the people who rejected out of hand, when life is extended to them. What a tremendous thing it is my friends to have Jesus make an offer like that? Finally, we have to agree that, I can't do it, I can't save myself. There's nothing within me. It's almost like I'm locked up in a prison and the key's on the outside and I'm behind those bars. Somebody's got to open up from the outside. Finally, I realize, I can't do it. It's not within me to do.

I'll just forget about myself and my own efforts and my own works and getting my release, so we turn away from self and behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. We look there and see Jesus hanging on the cross for us. We see Him dying there in our place. We see Him suffering there under the scourge of sin, holy, harmless, undefiled. He never committed a sin in his life and yet, He's bearing my punishment there on the cross. He has offered to take my place and suffer for me. My friends, when I see Christ doing that, and I realize that that He is He is holy that I'm the one who should be suffering.

I am the one who should be bleeding. I realized He would have done that not just for me. He would have done it for anybody in the whole world. He would've done it for just one person in the world. Willing to give up the throne of the universe, give up the glory and to come here and live his life of the loneliness and suffering and shame and death. Friends, when I see that and understand it, my heart breaks within me, with sorrow. I'm so sorry that I sinned. I realize that its because of sin that He's having to die. It's because of my sin that He's having to die there. I am responsible for it.

Then, I'm sorry that I ever sinned. Oh, I wish that I had not had any share in the terrible suffering that I see my Lord passing through on that cross. Friends, let me tell you something. That Godly sorrow that I feel for my sin because of what it's doing to Jesus. That is repentance. That's repentance. Now, there are two kinds of sorrow according to Bible. There's a worldly sorrow. There's a godly sorrow. I'm talking about the godly sorrow. Not because I was caught in something wrong. Not because I'm afraid of the punishment that may come upon me. I am sorry because of what my sins did to Jesus as I watch him there suffering and dying on the cross.

I heard of a minister who was walking down the court of a prison one day. One poor fellow behind the bars was weeping his heart out. The minister went over and put his arms through the bar and padded him and tried to give him a little bit of comfort. He asked him, "What's wrong? What's the matter?" The man said, "I'm sorry. Oh, I'm so sorry." The minister said, "Why are you sorry?" The man said, "I'm sorry because I sneezed." The minister said, "Why are you sorry?" The guy, "Oh I said I was breaking in a house and I sneezed and they caught me and brought me here." This is one kind of sorrow right friends isn't it? But, that's not the kind I'm talking about.

I think that's the kind that my little boy was expressing when I was taking him to the bedroom to punish him for something he did wrong. All the way there, he was saying, "Daddy, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He was sorry he got caught, no doubt about that. Listen friends, there is a godly sorrow for sin, not because of me. Not because of what it did to me but what it did to Jesus. Let me give you an example now of a true repentance. I remember when I was in the 11th grade in high school, we had a teacher that year in that room. He was the football coach. Big, old ugly bruised fellow with cauliflower ears and he did know how to teach really.

He just did know how to teach and nobody really cared for him as a teacher, but there he was our homeroom teacher. Right in the middle of the year, they changed teachers. They brought this beautiful young girl right from college who had just graduated, who was a little bit older than some of the fellows on that room, and made her the homeroom teacher. I can tell you that the boys were delighted that we had a beautiful girl teacher up there who was almost the age of some of us. We didn't have to look at the old, ugly basketball and football coach any longer. We tried ourselves I can tell you. We tried to vie for the attention of this beautiful new girl teacher.

Then, one day after school, two of my friends and I stayed behind to play a little basketball. We left our books in the room intending to slip in there and pick them up at the very last moment. After a while, the buses were all gone, we came in the building and went down the hall and started to go into that room. As we reached out for the knob on that door, we glanced through the one little clear pane of glass and all the frosted glass on that door and we saw our beautiful teacher crying at her desk. Now, nobody had to tell us why she was crying. We had given her a pretty hard time that day, not realizing of course that it was going to cause her to weep.

When we saw her there weeping at her desk, we didn't go in that room. We tip-toed back down the hall and I'll tell you, there were three sorry boys. Oh, we talked about that and we determined that we would never again do anything again to make that beautiful teacher cry. We were sorry for what we had done. So sorry that we determined never to do it again. Now friends, this is repentance. When you're so sorry for your wrongdoing because of what it did to Jesus and you're determined never to do it again because of that, that's true repentance. That's the first condition to having your sins forgiven.

Then, the second condition is another long word, confession. Confession. Now, let's get a Bible text for that in I John 1:9 say this. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Now, there it is. The Bible said that if we just ask him, if we confess our sins, he will gladly forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Now, here's a problem. People say to me, "Well, Brother Joe after I've done this, when I've knelt down and prayed and confessed my sins, how do I know that I'm forgiven?"

Do you know that many people wait and wait and wait and wait for some exciting feeling strike them? They feel like that there's got to be some ecstasy or some emotion that will shoot through their body from their head to their feet to give them that evidence or that proof that God has done what he said. They keep waiting and waiting for a feeling to come.

Now, friends, please don't misunderstand me here. Feeling has nothing to do with the process of forgiveness. Feeling has nothing to do with it. Now, you say, "Brother Joe, are you telling me that I'm not going to get any feeling when I'm forgiven? Are you telling me that I've got to believe that I'm forgiven before I'm forgiven?"

You see what I'm really telling you is my friends, we've got to know it's done because God said it's done and not because he proves it to us by some physical sign. There is no physical sign that God uses to prove anything to us. According to your faith, "So be it unto you." He wants you to take him at his word. If God tells you that he'll forgive you if you confess your sin, then as soon as you confess your sin, you ought to thank him and believe it. Isn't that right?

Audience: Yes.

Joe: You really should. We must believe him. That is not believing that it's done before it's done. See, that's always the favorite question people ask. They say, "Are you telling me I've got to believe that I'm forgiven before I'm forgiven?" I say, "No. You're not to believe you're forgiven before you're forgiven, but you're to believe you're forgiven before you feel that you're forgiven." Don't wait on feeling. Feeling doesn't have anything to do with it. It will be done because God said so and not just because you get a happy feeling. In fact, come with me to Romans five now and look at another text.

Romans 5:1 says this, "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." It says, "Being justified by faith." In other words, after you've accepted his cleansing, and pardon and forgiveness, then you will have the happy feeling. You won't get the feeling my friends before you have the faith. Do you know what that would be? Suppose you did get the feeling before you had faith. Do you know what you would be? You would be a peaceful, happy unbeliever. Is there any such thing as a peaceful, happy unbeliever? No. This means you've got to believe first.

If you believe, the faith comes first and then, of course, you get all the feeling you need afterward. All you want and all you can stand, the peace of God will come into your life. Of course, the joy of Heaven will be yours, but that will be as a result of your faith. It won't come in order to prove that God has done what he said he would do. Now, there's just one more condition to having our sins forgiven and that is called, Restitution. Another long word. Now, friends, some people don't believe in this, but I do. I do. I believe this, that if all the Christians this city would make restitution one of the greatest revivals, all history would break out right in this town.

Doug: Joe will conclude his message on Three Steps to Heaven in our next program. Friends, I hope you're taking careful notes on this tremendous theme of Preparation for Christ Soon Return. Our free offer today is Joe's little book entitled, Is it Possible to Live Without Sinning? I'd like to invite you to write for it right now while you're thinking about it and we'll send it to you. If you'll write to us at Amazing Facts TV, box 680, Frederick, Maryland, zip 21701. That's Amazing Facts TV, box 680, Frederick, Maryland, 21701. Ask for Joe's little book, Is it Possible to Live Without Sinning?

We'd like to invite you too friends to continue to support the telecast with your prayers and your gifts. Send your gift to us at Amazing Facts TV, box 680, Frederick, Maryland, zip 21701. Let me thank you in advance for your support for the telecast. Be with us when Joe concludes the important message on Three Steps to Heaven.

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