On January 12, 2021, CDC announced an order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. Air passengers will also be required to confirm that the information they present is true in the form of an attestation. This Order is effective as of 12:01am EST (5:01am GMT) on January 26, 2021.
There are the requirements, posted and at every port of entry, for foreigners entering the USA now. You can’t just waltz in here without document and proof that you are not carrying the Covid-19, or that if you did have Covid-19, that you are now cured.
But what are the requirements for entering into the “United Stars of Heaven”, or perhaps we would call it the “Heavenly Union”. It’s more common called the Kingdom of God or heaven.
To wit: have you been spiritually vaccinated?
“And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” Matthew 18:9. (NIV)
Jesus uses the same metaphor two times in the book of Matthew. Why? He also speaks in the same passages about cutting off your hand if it causes you to sin—-and thereby avoid hell. Again, these are the types of passages you don’t hear pastors pray much about. Jesus’ graphic, almost grotesque warnings were spoken to get the attention of those listening. Was it hyperbolic? Of course, but then again, He would tell you that it is literally better to maim and blind yourself and enter into eternal bliss scarred and incomplete, than to enter into hell with a perfect body.
He spoke in other passages about selling all you had to purchase a pearl of great price or the narrow door that led to heaven and how a very few would find it. Jesus is contending here with sin and how it grips our lives like a vice and is so difficult to be free from it. Sin is an incurable disease with which we are born. The only solution is to be re-born. You can’t our grow it.
Jesus’ shocking statement about plucking out your right eye was meant to get our attention. It was intended to show how evil sin is and how desperate our fight is. Sacrifices have to be made for those that would follow Jesus and be His true disciples. Sin is the cause of death—not cigarettes or bacon——and sin is the cause of eternal death! But Jesus is the antidope for sin—the cure—-His blood is the vaccine that can restore, protect and preserve for all eternity.
And yet, there’s something that we must do in regard to avoiding hell and accepting the free gift of eternal life. Coming to Jesus does require that we give up something—-and that something is sin. John the Baptist taught that—do we? There is a cost to following Jesus—it’s giving up the old life and embracing a new life. Do we preach that? The rich ruler had to be prepared to give up his wealth…..the prostitute had to surrender her profession…..the tax collector had to return what he took immorally. We have to determine to give up whatever sin or affection we have that is ruling our lives. What is it for you? What rules your life and fills your imagination?
Our ministry here is primarily focused on children and youth, because it’s far easier for a person to make the choice to receive Jesus Christ as a youth or young adult than after they’ve made a fortune, or become totally corrupted by the other things that sparkle and twinkle and get their attentions—-those natural, earthly temptations of life.
John the Baptist talked about sinners bringing “proof” of the repentance if they came to be baptized. Truth is, you and I can do nothing to cause God to be desperate for our attendance in heaven. There’s no way we can break in to heaven by storm or sneak in a back door. To enter we have to accept His invitation and the free gift—-but on His terms. When you’re invited to a wedding or formal party there are requirements for attendance. It’s socially mandated that you respect the advertised dress code—-formal, semi-formal, coat and tie, casual. You also are required to be on time, attend and depart sober(!), and to RSVP!
And so God’s invitation to eternal life comes with this caveat: We must be prepared to be born again. That means that I can’t enter as the same creature I am presently, but must be remade into a new creature. Did you know that? Now God does this re-creating, but I must submit to it. And that requires my acknowledgement that there are things I must be prepare to give up, abandon, allow to die, or put to death in my former life. All at once?…. no, but I must be willing to have the old nature amputated and gouged out in my confession that Jesus is Lord. Any part of my nature, motivation, and passions that is inconsistent with what a true citizen is, in His Kingdom, must be annihilated. Has this happened in your life?
Once a foreigner gets over here, there’s little required to become a U.S. Citizen, but trying becoming a citizen in Europe and you might be surprised at the obstacles To become a Dutch citizen, for example, you must pass a civic integration exam, in Dutch, where you must prove that you know the laws, history, culture and customs of the Netherlands; you must already read, write, speak and understand Dutch to a sufficient level to take that test. To be Dutch, you have to, well, become Dutch. And you know, I think the Dutch have a good idea here about immigration and citizenship.
But on a spiritual level, we’re invited to enter into God’s Kingdom by showing that we are prepared to become Godly citizens. No, it doesn’t mean you can earn heaven or purchase your own salvation, nor do you have to take a test at the pearly gates. But when you came to Christ were you prepared to learn the heavenly language, dress like a citizen of God’s Kingdom, embrace the holy customs and culture, and give up those things that are not permitted in His Kingdom?
Again, I am not saying that you must do all of this prior to salvation, but are you willing to cut off your arm and pluck out your eye, if what you are doing with your hands and looking at with your eyes would never be permitted nor imagined by a true citizen of God’s eternal kingdom. It’s a matter of our conscience in these matters.
This command of Jesus is not about what we must do after we have been reborn, but a condition for being re-born! The same for the rich young ruler. “You want to follow me? Then first cut off whatever it is that might cause you to turn back—money—-your parents—your very life. After you come to Jesus, He will transform your life.
We are saved by grace—-not by our works or our efforts to make things right. But the remorse and repentance that precedes salvation must include turning away from known sin in our lives. Repentance does not mean ceasing to sin or a personal rebirth based upon your my efforts.
It means a verdict, within my inward being, that I must turn my back on the things I used to do, and a desire to “sin no more”. This happens when His Holy Spirit convicts me and I respond!! Jesus confronted the prostitute and told her to “go and sin no more”……he spoke directly to the rich man and told him to “sell all his possessions and give to the poor”. He has told you and me (or perhaps He is telling you right now) what we must give up in order to receive the new and full life——but have we listened and entered into a relationship with Him——or have we also walked away sorrowfully. Do we have so much invested in our family’s estate, or our addiction to sex or our possessions or our careers, that we simply cannot let go.
I recently saw a sad video of a huge eagle in Alaska that downed. Those that found the eagle discovered that the eagle had tried to pick up a salmon too big from a large lake. But once it’s talons pierced the back of the salmon, it could not let go. So it struggled with that fish until it finally gave up and was lost, along with the dead salmon.
Sin is the salmon and we’re the eagles. We were created and intended to soar above sin. But once sin gets hold of us, or we try to get a hold of it, we’re going down. Nothing will save us short of some kind-hearted fisherman that will pull us out of the water and get us disconnected from sin. Have you met the Fisherman?
Turning from sin does not save me from hell, it allows me to turn to Jesus and He saves me from hell. But I cannot turn to Jesus, while all along, determining to remain a prostitute, or drug trafficker, or thief or liar! I have to let go and have those things cut out and cut off from my life! Does this mean that I will never lie again, never break the law, never commit an act that is lewd or inconsistent with a godly life ever again? No, clearly not. But God is looking at my heart.
When you came to cross did you decide that you wanted to put to death, once and for all, those things that are contrary to what our Holy Father intended when He created us?
Sin is the thing that separates us from God and an eternity in hell is the consequence; repentance is the point of trust when I turn to Christ for deliverance from sin and hell. But again, I am not saved by my repentance—-instead I am ready to receive the new life in Jesus Christ when I repent. And repentance should include a disgust (remorse) and visceral hate for those things I did that have offended God.
Sin must be recognized as the problem, but not sinning is not the solution—Jesus is. Christ must be recognized as the solution.
1. Are you vaccinated against sin? Has Jesus come into your life to remove the disease of sin so that you can live the abundant life for which He imagined you?
2. If you’ve received that “invitation” to attend the grand banquet one day, have you replied? And have you considered the dress requirements? Are you ready for Him to select for you the proper attire? What was your reply to His invitation?