Sunday, October 26, 2014

Heaven's 'Dress Code'

Strange how entrance requirements for Heaven or Paradise fluctuate, depending upon whom you ask. After a documentary on Gadaffi, depraved and brutal ruler of Libya an Iman was asked a pointed question. Did he expect Gadaffi to go to Paradise? “Yes” said the Iman. A Roman Catholic Archbishop had a T.V.  'Q and A' programme with Atheists. In a concluding and confused statement he said he expected to see them in heaven. Add to that, most of the community, regardless of lifestyle, religious faith or lack of it, consider Heaven (if there is one) their destiny.

Surely, if there is a place called Heaven, there must be some standard for entrance. For such a place means that Its Creator owns and dwells there. How can any of us know what He is like and what His dress requirements are for entrance? Sounds discriminatory, the word our World is trying to eradicate. Too bad! He does have the last word after all in life’s matters. The question each of us needs to answer is ‘Where can I find the required information for acceptance in Heaven?’ Most people would say that is the realm of religion. True! However, which Faith system has the best credentials?

I’ve bet my life on the credentials of the Bible and its revelation of the Person who is Heaven’s Lord. We know Him as Jesus Christ. Heaven’s inhabitants revere Him as Yahweh, Son of God, the Logos. When you read about Him and His dwelling place it becomes crystal clear entrance requires an impossible dress code for we earth inhabitants. We are told that ‘without holiness’ it is impossible to see the Lord, (Hebrews 12:14) let alone get past whoever is on the ‘gate’. In our most impressive moments of self-evaluation holy would not be a term we would apply to ourselves. For the word embraces concepts, behaviour and character traits which strip all our pretence of measuring up to Heaven’s dress code.

Holiness speaks of purity in mind, thought, action and relationships. Holiness is being unblemished in our worship of the Eternal God. Holiness reveals that a person is partaker of the sacred, thereby separated from the defilement of our Sin nature and its multitude of expressions. Holiness says to us “Unless there is a miracle you will never be fitted out for Heaven’s dress requirement.” Why? Simply because holiness isn’t a deodorant to splash on or a perfume to cover our body odour or soul's cesspool. Holiness can never be manufactured by so called ‘good works’ (they have our foul fingerprints all over them). Well intentioned promises are easily forgotten and religious ritual is an empty exercise separated from personal holiness and faith.

It begins to look as though Heaven will be an empty place, apart from the angels. It would have been without the transforming grace of God expressed in the Judeo-Christian Bible. In symbol, statement and ultimately in the Person of Jesus Christ Heaven’s dress requirement became an earthly gift. This is the message of Scripture. It is the basic theme of Christmas. It is the ultimate achievement, for us, of Calvary. It is the most wonderful gift ever offered to corrupt, wayward, ignorant, indifferent and spiritually dead people. For Christ’s life on earth stood the test under intense and sustained opposition and temptation to make Him similar to us, that is, unholy. How do we know? From the historical records and the Biblical accounts, Jesus Christ died to sin, buried it and on the third day rose again. Now He has not only prepared a place in heaven for believers, He has provided the garment which meets the code. What is that garment? It isn’t a spiritual feeling or a religious observance. It is none other than the very life of Christ indwelling us and in the eyes of the Father, covering us eternally.

How can we earn this ‘garment?’ We cannot! How then is it available? It is the gift of God to us. Ephesians 2:1-10. How do we claim it? By realising our un–holiness and its consequences. Then seeking for the cleansing, forgiveness and transforming grace of God offered to us as a faith and gratitude response. 2 Corinthians 5:11–21

I can never be good enough for heaven in my own dress code. This I know, however, I’ve been given Christ Jesus' promise of meeting Him face to Face one day. How? Because of His grace and gift to me. This is also available to anyone, to you, by a faith response, regardless of how weak you may think your faith to be. Jesus will honour your heart’s call and cleanse, forgive and transform you from the inside out and clothe you in His righteousness, which is the holy dress code of Heaven.

 ©Ray Hawkins

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