Voices of Faith: Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven

When I was a senior in high school, our Sunday school teacher told our class a very profound statement that scared me nearly to death. He read to our class of 14 students, grades 9 through 12, a scripture from Matthew Chapter seven. It goes like this in the New Living Translation, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow and difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

I asked Fr. Kennedy, our teacher, if there was a way of knowing if we were going to heaven or hell? He took me aside and said, “You’ll have to ask the Lord that question yourself, I can’t tell you if you are going to heaven or hell.”

My next question was, “How do I ask the Lord such a question and get an answer?” Fr. Kennedy just smiled at me and said, “You’ll have to keep asking Him until you hear His answer.”

Then Fr. Kennedy said to the entire class, “If what the bible says is true, out of this class, less than seven of you will make it to heaven.” The entire class sat there and looked around at each other for a couple of minutes in silence.

“Who do you think will make it to heaven right now Fr. Kennedy,” someone asked? “I don’t know,” he said. “Only the Lord can tell you who, but from the sounds of it,” Fr. Kennedy said, “only a few of you will ever make it, according to the bible in Matthew 7.”

Fr. Kennedy, a Catholic priest, was our Sunday school teacher, fresh out of Irish seminary and loved to teach us about what he knew about the Kingdom of Heaven, according to Jesus. He had many stories he would tell us about heaven that everyone enjoyed. I had Fr. Kennedy as a Sunday school teacher all through high school, so I was pretty aware of the Kingdom of Heaven by the time I graduated. He basically taught us that heaven was for the good people and hell was for the devil and any bad people in the world, that was his bottom line for all of us.

Father Kennedy really cared about our eternal salvation. I remember going to see him years after I had graduated from high school and we would sit down and get into great conversations about heaven. I loved to hear about heaven from the Irishman’s point of view. As I got older, I moved on and went to other churches and rarely ever heard any more about the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, only after I had become a born again Christian, did I ever hear much more about Heaven, but not very much. I have felt cheated that I don’t hear much preaching on what Heaven is really like and how we can look forward to being there forever. I always feel so uplifted when I hear the awesome stories in the bible about Heaven.

As most born again Christians can attest to, Heaven is usually, nowadays, less referred at the pulpit and rather how we can live our lives better here on earth. Occasionally I hear about the rapture, but not much about Heaven. I often wonder why the big mystery of Heaven. Why I seldom here Heaven preached. There have been a number of books written on Heaven and a few really good movies.

Recently in a bible study, we were studying First Thessalonians. In the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul talks about Jesus Christ coming to take the Christians back with him to Heaven in verses 16 through 18. “ For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all of the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.”

I’ve always enjoyed hearing about the second coming of Christ, mainly because of the Good News of Heaven being connected with Jesus Christ’s second coming. Since I first became a born again Christian, understanding how Jesus at the Cross saved my soul and spirit, I have always hoped I would be alive when Jesus second coming happened, but it wouldn’t matter if I were dead or alive when Jesus comes. According to the bible in 1 Thessalonians, those who have died and those who are alive will all be taken up together with Christ into Heaven to be there with Him forever. What a glorious day that will be to ride with the winds with Jesus and His angels and all the Christians to be with the Lord forever in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Jesus said in Matthew 4:14, “And the Good News about the Kingdom of Heaven will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.” NLT Maybe that’s all that’s keeping Jesus from coming. We need to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven and then, Jesus will come.

I am certainly looking forward to the day when we who are Christians will all be gathered together in Heaven where there is no death, no sickness, no sorrow, no pain, nor any agony of any kind because we will be with Jesus and with our Father God Most High forever! Now, that’s something we can all look forward to.

Mark Conway is a Christian evangelist living in Sterling with his wife Maryna. You may contact Mark through his website, www.endtimedays.org.

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