Exactly a year and a half ago, I was forced to retire from an international flying position due to the mandatory age restriction of 65 years old for airline pilots. The good Lord blessed me with the opportunity to fly far and wide across this vast planet in a turbocharged, multi-engine magic carpet, that took me to destinations on six continents over a 42-year career. A passport to enter those faraway places was always required, and along with a current medical, pilot license and a company-issued American Express credit card – “don’t leave home without it” – made up the documents I needed to circumnavigate the globe and unlock the front door of other nations.
A passport, as most world travelers are aware, is issued by the holder’s home country, and is mandatory to gain entry into other places, as well as being required to show upon returning to the country of origin or one’s home nation before being let back in. A not so lengthy process is initiated to obtain one, including filling out an application form, submitting two photo IDs, then sending off the paperwork and a fee to a government agency, who can vouch for the person’s credentials and then in turn, issues the license to travel abroad. Without such a document, entry into a foreign state is impossible. A traveler is checked immediately upon arriving at the airport, train station or dock and is either allowed in or forbidden to gain access to that particular nation if there is no passport in the individual’s possession.
Some states even require a visa, along with a passport, to be allowed in. Certain restrictions are in place imposed upon members of specific countries before they can gain entry, due to added security requirements.
One of my flying jobs included a three-year position in China. In order to satisfy their entry requirements and to obtain a residential visa, I was required to obtain a local sheriff report of my background; have it notarized by my local bank; taken to the county clerk to have him stamp it; then I drove to Nashville and back to have the governor’s office endorse it; then that document along with all other paperwork was sent to DC to get the entry visa into China.
Once I arrived in China, an interview had to be conducted at the local police department, then all paperwork was sent to Beijing to obtain the residential visa. A very prolonged process that took about a month to complete. All that to get into, reside and work within China – a far cry from what is taking place on our southern border, as illegals stream across our border freely and then are allowed to relocate to any locale in the country that they desire.
A passport is an international ID then. It verifies who you are. The presentation of it to another country’s authority figure confirms that you have gone through the proper channels to obtain it, that you have the issuing country’s endorsement that you are cleared to travel outside one’s home nation, freely enter another’s nation and then are welcomed back home as a bona fide resident. Again, without having one, a person is forbidden to gain access and will be removed or deported from the place that they are attempting to enter.
In a similar fashion, we read in God’s Word that only certain individuals will be allowed to enter into God’s Kingdom. Certain requirements must be met in order to gain access. One cannot enter by any other means than the way defined by the Scripture verses. It is not open to everybody. Everyone is invited in, but unless they have gone through the proper process to gain entry, they will be forbidden to enter. No other shortcuts are available, and the prescribed method of entering in must be followed. A passport or visa to enter into Heaven must be obtained correctly; otherwise, another destination will be provided and enforced.
I used to be a member of a religious organization that had a prescribed method of acquiring salvation – a plan of redemption and eventual access to God’s Kingdom – that differed greatly from that which is laid out in the Bible verses. Their scheme included working for the rite of passage by a sacramental system, paying penalties throughout one’s “Christian” walk to cover their own shortcomings via a Penance provision, and then the final cleansing of leftover sins in a false place called Purgatory for an untold number of years before finally given the green light to be allowed into Heaven – none of which is found in God’s Word. It is a false system devised by man. There are myriads of other such false plans offered by the devil in his quest to deceive.
Instead, God’s passport to Heaven is called the Book of Life. If your name is not included in this registrar, then you will not be allowed in. It is as simple as that. Other entry forms will be denied. No other shortcuts or roundabout methods of entry will be permitted, no matter who or what religious authority claims otherwise. If their plan falls short of the prescribed method of entrance – no matter how long the hoped-for authorization process has been underway – Heaven’s door will not be open to them. An alternate route does not exist. Only one way is the true path for entry.
The Bible makes the claim repeatedly that salvation from God is a free gift, but one that must be accepted by every person in order to have their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Jesus Christ is that Lamb; He was the only one capable of completely covering the penalty for our sins by His sacrificial death on the cross. Without accepting this truth by applying His atonement to your sins and the acknowledgment that His way to salvation is the only correct path to righteousness, a person will not get their name placed in the Book of Life, and a passport to Heaven will be impossible to attain. Instead, a place of outer darkness and torment awaits the traveler from this life to the next.
These Bible verses confirm that salvation is absolutely free to those who apply them to their life:
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
God, in His Word, makes it abundantly clear that we cannot earn our way into Heaven by a lengthy process of working for our salvation. He provides a free way! It is a free gift, but one that must be taken advantage of; it has to be received. Any religion that denies this process and offers up their own plan for salvation by a system of works is a false religion. They may even claim to be the “One True Church” or other such verbiage to try to convince biblically illiterate followers (who have no clue what the Bible actually says about redemption) of their supposed importance or credentials. But if they are offering a false plan of salvation, then they are teaching “another gospel” as the Bible calls it, and not the true gospel of grace as outlined in Scripture.
Don’t fall for that deception. Jesus Christ tells us in John 14:6 that “He is the Way, the Truth and the Life – that no man comes to God but through Him.” He is our Passport. He is the One who writes your name into His Book of Life. If you don’t freely accept His offer of passage into Heaven by His excruciating death on the cross, you will be barred from entry. Don’t be left outside! Don’t be deceived!
Salvation is a free gift that cannot be worked for. Our attempt to work for it nullifies God’s grace. Even just a little work – like attempting to pay a penalty for a sin or two – nullifies the free gift. A person whose house is paid for does not still make payments to the bank. A person sitting on death row, upon receiving clemency from the governor, is not required to make atonement for whatever crime he may have committed. He is free and clear of a death sentence. He, of course, may not wish to accept a full pardon but instead will have to face the consequences. The same goes for any who reject God’s free plan of salvation but instead foolishly tries another way.
When a person travels, whenever they arrive at their chosen destination, the passport is stamped upon entry and exit to verify the time they arrived and left that country. Over the course of my career, I must have gone through about 5 passports due to all of the stamps and visas required to gain access to certain places. The passports were always full of stamps.
Our passport through life contains many stamps of all our past transgressions and sins. Every little indiscretion is included on every single page. Nobody goes through life and then winds up with a clean record. We all carry a very marred transcript.
When we accept Christ into our lives and trust fully in His death on the cross for our sins and accept His free grace totally as the only requirement to enter into His glory – there is no other entry provision; it must be done His way! – then, immediately, our names are transcribed into the Lamb’s Book of Life, and the gates of Heaven open to us.
Our little passport through life, with all of its ugliness and shortcomings, the total record of how we have sinned against Him and the myriad stamps overrunning the pages, when we show up at the Pearly Gates and present our passport to gain entrance into His Kingdom, upon inspecting our document to His authority, God will only see one stamp if we have accepted Christ: “Paid in Full.” One stamp, embossed with the Blood of Christ, will cover all of our past transgressions, and all the other ugliness of our past record will be cleaned out because of what he has done for us.
That travel document, with that stamp, is the only means available to go from this life to that paradise and enjoy eternity with Our Creator and Our Redeemer – don’t leave Earth without it!