Several years ago during my dad's funeral service, there was one special moment that conveyed an unforgettable message of promise, hope, and salvation to the ears of all who attended. The message sent was not only important to hear on that day, but it is also one that must be shared today and tomorrow with all who will listen.
Before mom went on ahead of dad a few years earlier to be with her Savior and Lord, she and dad often sang duets together. With voices that blended together and harmonized beautifully, they were frequently invited to sing traditional worship hymns and gospel songs at churches and various other events. It was their special way of sharing the Good News of the gospel with others.
We had located a tape recording of them singing a duet that was sung during a 1991 Easter Sunday service in the Phoenix, AZ area. The tape was old and somewhat scratchy, but the heartfelt intent of the vocalists and the song's message was loud and clear. We chose to play that tape at an appropriate time during dad's funeral service. The title of the song was, "Room At The Cross."
Hearing them pour out their hearts together in song one last time seemed to be, in effect, a final passionate plea that emerged straight from the gates of heaven. Their heartfelt plea was directed to the many attending the funeral service, specifically to those who had not yet confessed that Jesus is Lord, to those who had never repented, and to those who had never reached out by faith alone to receive His free gift of salvation. The gospel message is very clear. We have God's promise that in spite of where we are in life, no matter who we are, and no matter what we have done during our life, there is room at the cross for all who choose to meet Him there.
ROOM AT THE CROSS
By Ira F. Stanphill - 1946
The cross upon which Jesus died,
Is a shelter in which we can hide;
And its grace so free is sufficient for me,
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea
There's room at the cross for you,
There's room at the cross for you,
Tho millions have come, There's still room for one
Yes, there's room at the cross for you.
Tho millions have found Him a friend,
And have turned from the sins they have sinned,
The Savior still waits to open the gates
And welcomes a sinner before it's too late.
The hand of my Savior is strong,
And the love of my Savior is long;
Through sunshine or rain, through loss or in gain,
The blood flows from Calvary to cleanse every stain.
Although the lyrics of that song speak volumes, I believe that dad and mom had so much more to say as they sang that day. They had been together in heaven only a few days, but through un-written words within the song, they expressed a clear message of assurance and hope, as well as a warning, to all who had not yet reached the end of their life.
Dad and mom were saying that heaven is a very real place where they are more alive than ever before. Its magnitude and beauty is beyond our comprehension as are our words to describe it. It is sad, but some people have the ridiculous notion that for all of eternity, they will just be sitting on top of a fluffy cloud playing a harp. The Apostle Paul was correct when he said in 1 Cor. 2:9 NIV, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
I am certain they were telling us that the moment they arrived, Jesus was right there to welcome them with a broad smile on His face and with His arms out-stretched to embrace them. Just imagine...being there face to face with the King of kings and Lord of lords - their Savior! They also told of talking and laughing with Him as they strolled hand in hand together on the streets of pure gold, stopping only to sit beside the River of Life - its pure water having the appearance of liquid diamonds flowing from the throne of God. Oh my! There is so much to learn from Him, and they have all of eternity to do it.
They spoke of a massive celebration of worship and thanksgiving in heaven. While hearing untold numbers of voices all lifting up together in an enormous crescendo of praise singing "Holy, Holy, Holy", the adoration defies description. As a spontaneous expression of overwhelming joy within their souls, they danced for Jesus with all their might to the sounds of beautiful music they had never heard before. It was incredible!
They needed to say that in heaven everyone has a new incorruptible body just as Scripture promised. It would never become tired or broken. In heaven there is no more death, sorrow, suffering, crying or pain. Hospitals, walkers, canes, and wheelchairs do not exist. There is no more Alzheimer's, or dementia, or strokes, or cancer. With new bodies, the lame walk, the deaf hear as never before, the blind have opened eyes to see all things, and the weary leap with unspeakable joy.
Dad and mom arrived in heaven expecting to find some folks who had died earlier, but many could not be found. Among them were soccer moms, dads devoted to their families, caring grandparents, church leaders, and even Pastors. Family members were also included with the missing. All of them were good people - caring, loving and hard working folks who were churchgoers, and appeared to be living a Christ centered life.
However, dad and mom discovered that those folks had been simply acting out Christianity by saying the things Christians say, and by doing the things Christians do. The missing had deceived themselves and others by role-playing. They had been living a lie behind the mask they wore. No one will enter heaven just by believing in a loving God, and by living a good life with long exposure to Christian values and principles.
Many of those masquerading as true believers had lots of religion in their life, but did not have Jesus in their heart. Their names were recorded in a church membership book, but not in the Lamb's Book of Life. They had never fallen humbly on their knees in repentance - crying out with a remorseful, broken heart to Almighty God. They had never experienced a born again, spiritual re-birth of the heart. Behind the mask they had been wearing, God knew the true condition of their heart.
We were also told that some of those folks apparently believed there were other ways to heaven - that our God of the Bible and the gods of pagan religions and cults are one and the same. In spite of Scriptures to the contrary, many had said there were several pathways leading to the top of the mountain - with Christianity being just one of them. People believing that blasphemous nonsense are declaring that a huge portion of our holy inspired Word of God is false and of no importance. Even worse than that, they are declaring our God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be a liar.
None of those pagan and cult religions believe that Christ, the Son of the Living God, is God in human flesh, nor do they believe He willingly died on the cross in our place, that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day - all exactly as He said He would.
Expressed within their duet, they were saying it is necessary that those who believe all religions worship the same God, must also believe that Jesus was not telling the truth with His statement written in John 14:6 NKJV, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Likewise, those folks must believe that the Holy Spirit was not truthful, either, when He led the writer to record Acts 4:12 NKJV, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Those Scriptures plainly tell that without Him there is no way, without Him there is no truth, and without Him there will be no life.
Although God clearly states in His Word that all Scripture is Truth, that it is all inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that all of it must be believed as written, many of those missing from heaven chose to believe only the portions of Scripture they wanted to believe. By doing that, they, in effect, had ripped many pages out of God's holy Word and discarded them. Revelation 22:18,19 has a chilling warning about adding or removing any of the words of Scripture from God's Word. Simply put...it is all God's way, or no way.
From the duet they sang, Dad and mom were also confirming the Biblical Truth that salvation is a free gift, available by the grace of God to all who would choose to receive it. God sent His Son, Jesus, as the perfect sacrificial Lamb to die on Calvary's cross to pay the sin penalty in full for all who by faith alone would believe. Just imagine...Jesus died that we might live! He endured a most painful death on the cross - paying the full price for all our sins!
There simply are no good works, religious traditions or rituals that anyone must do, or can do, to earn salvation or make themselves more acceptable to God. If salvation was even partially dependent on anything we might try to do, then no one could ever make himself worthy enough to enter heaven's gates into the presence of a holy and righteous God. Jesus never taught a religious system, but rather, He taught us how to have a personal relationship with Him.
Sadly, some of the folks missing did not believe that Jesus' sacrifice was enough. They believed that faith is fine, but that it is also necessary for them to do, do, do - do this, do that, or do more - to insure their salvation. But, while Jesus was hanging bleeding and naked on the cross, He shouted out these words as recorded in John 19:30 NKJV, "It is finished!" He was declaring that His work was done. He had paid the full penalty for our sins, and that we only need to believe Him by faith. In effect, He was also saying, "No, no, no! There is absolutely nothing more you can do...for I have done it all!"
The Apostle Paul clearly wrote in Ephesians 2:8,9 NKJV, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
That message is also clearly stated in Titus 3:4-7 NKJV, "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The Bible says that we become worthy in the eyes of God only through Jesus' redeeming and shed blood on the cross. We must be ready to fully submit ourselves to Him, repent of our sin-filled life, and humbly fall on our face before Him with a Godly sorrow over our non-belief, our lost condition, our sin against a righteous and holy God, then, verbally confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Near the end of their song that day, I believe dad and mom posed a question that all must answer, followed with a passionate plea. They were asking, "Are you absolutely sure you have met Him at the cross? If you have not done that, please know that there is room at the cross for you. We can tell you that life might be very short and uncertain, as is written in James 4:14 NASB, "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." It is not God's Will that any should perish, but that all might have eternal life. However, it is a choice only you can make. It must be remembered that heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. When you make the choice to follow Him, Jesus will be patiently waiting at the foot of that cross to welcome you with open arms. Please choose Him today, then, live for Him with everything that is within you!"
The Apostle John wrote these words of Jesus in John 14:2,3 NKJV, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Jesus is in heaven today preparing a special place in His Father's house for all who truly belong to Him. He prepared a fantastic place for dad and mom, and He will do the same for you. But, the best part of all is that we will be with Him for all eternity.
Will we see you at the house?
During retirement, my prayer is that I might serve the Lord by sharing the Gospel through my writing. As the Lord leads, my work will inform, challenge and encourage. I also enjoy Biblical theme woodcarving, Bible studies and Christian music. Watch, pray and keep looking up!
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