In Gospel, Perspective

Do you ever think about heaven and how you will be received there? A song titled “This One’s With Me” by a Christian group called Newsong*encourages us to do just that.

In the opening line the singer says, “I was dreaming about heaven.” He sees himself standing at the entrance of heaven and declares, “I was so scared” because “In the presence of One so great/ I felt so very unworthy.”

This is a Christian man speaking, and I think he is speaking sensibly. For the dreadful truth is that we all are unworthy of heaven. Not one of us deserves to go there. Not one of us is anywhere near good enough. And, regardless of whatever else we Christians might feel when we first come before the throne of God, I am convinced we will feel unworthy. We will know with aching clarity that in ourselves there is no good thing to qualify us for “the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5).**All illusions about our own goodness will be stripped away, and we will feel so very unworthy.

But it is precisely at that moment when we feel the full force of our own unworthiness that our Lord Jesus will intervene. According to the song’s chorus, he will step in and speak out:

Father, this one’s with me

Part of the family

One of the reasons I died on Calvary

Father, welcome him in

I paid the price for him

Father, oh Father, this one’s with me

Even without the music’s melody, harmony and rhythm and the singer’s phrasing, resonance and intonation, these words attributed to Jesus are deeply moving—and, I believe, deeply true.

The Bible says that Jesus is our intercessor, our mediator, our advocate. This means that he is working to end the bitter disagreement between ourselves and God the Father. Our sins have provoked God’s holy anger. But Jesus has stepped in between us and God in order to end the hostility and to establish harmony. He is our go-between.

And, if we can say so respectfully, he is not sitting around heaven idle until the Day of Judgment. Certainly, he will plead our case on that Day. But the Bible teaches that he is already pleading our case: “Christ has entered … into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24). Right now he is speaking on our behalf to the Father. Concerning each one of his followers, he is constantly declaring, in effect, “This one’s with me.”

The fact that Jesus is continually interceding for us means that we can have ongoing forgiveness for our sins. The Apostle John states, “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). We should strive not to sin. But when we fail we should not think that our relationship with the Father is finished. On the contrary, provided we repent and confess, Jesus will advocate our cause to the Father and restore peace between us and him.

Furthermore, the fact that Jesus keeps on interceding for us means that our salvation is secure. Every believer will get to heaven; and when we get there, we will not be cast out. The Apostle Paul says as much towards the end or Romans 8. He insists that no one can condemn us because Christ Jesus “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (v. 34); and on the strength of this reality, he asserts that absolutely nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 38-39). The writer to the Hebrews also links the certainty of our salvation with the reality of Jesus’ intercession, stating that “he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

“Father, this one’s with me.” This, or something like it, is what Jesus will say about every Christian on the Day of Judgment. And we have reason to believe that he is saying it about us in the present. Right now he is bearing witness to us and declaring that he is on our side.

But what is the basis of Jesus’ inter-cession for us? Why should the Father care that we are with Jesus? The chorus to the song gives the answer to that question. In it, Jesus says, “Father, welcome him in/ I paid the price for him”. That is the heart of the matter. Jesus paid the price for us. Twice in 1 Corinthians Paul reminds Christians of this fact: “you were bought with a price” (6:19; 7:22).

What price? What was the price Jesus paid for us? Scripture declares that we “were ransomed from [our] futile ways … not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18; cf Revelation 5:9). “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”; and he accomplished this salvation by giving “himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 1:15; 2:6). He “put away [our] sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). His death was the price for our life.

At Calvary, the Lord Jesus was our substitute. He willingly died in our place and on our behalf. On the cross, he bore the sins we committed and suffered the punishment we deserved. Because he did this, we can bear the righteousness he alone possesses and enjoy the rewards he alone deserves.

The fact that Jesus has bought us with the supreme price of his death and is right now appealing to the Father on our behalf—this fact should fill us with confidence about our salvation. But we must not take Jesus for granted. We must not become slack in our life and faith. We must not forget the price Jesus paid for us, and the debt we owe him in return. He is not merely our Saviour: he is also our Lord, our Sovereign Master. In fact, the reason he became our Saviour is so that he could become our Lord. He extended his salvation to us so that he could assert his sovereignty over us. We are not our own. We were bought with a price. We belong to Jesus now. So we must take care to honour him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

What a sad thing it would be to get to heaven and to hear Jesus say, “Father, this one’s with me—although you wouldn’t think it from the selfish way he’s lived.” Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 that some Christians will be saved “as through fire”, without anything to offer the Lord as far as their life on earth is concerned. How terrible! We should make every effort not to be like that. We should desire more from Jesus than his simple declaration, “Father, this one’s with me.” We should also desire to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21). Being eager to receive such a commendation, we should strive to serve our Saviour well all the days of our lives, loving him and making it our aim to please him.

Of course, to serve Jesus we must first be saved by him. Some who read this may not be saved, and others may not be sure. We can discern whether we are or are not Christians and whether we will or will not be welcomed in heaven by personally answering these questions: “What is Jesus saying about me to the Father right now? What will he say about me on the Day of Judgment?” These are pressing, eternal life-or-death questions.

The Bible declares that a day of reckoning is coming. Indeed, it warns that God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). The man whom God the Father has appointed to be our judge, the man whom he raised from the dead, is also the man whom he sent to be our Saviour, the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

Will Jesus say when he judges us individually, “Father, this one’s with me”? Or will he say, “Father, this one’s not with me”? Horrifyingly, if it is not the first, it will be the second. For, truly, there are only two possibilities: acceptance or rejection. Jesus himself warns that on the Judgment Day he will separate all people into two groups. To one he will say, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. To the other he will say, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:34, 41). Which statement will Jesus make to you, to me?

This is not a question whose answer lies hidden in the unsearchable depths of God. Nor is it a question that can only be answered come Judgment Day. There is a way to know and to be sure right now that Jesus is on our side and will plead to the Father for us. It is quite simple. If we want Jesus to claim us in heaven, we must claim him on earth. If we want him to receive us there, we must receive him here.

And we receive him by believing in him. John puts it this way: “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God” (John 1:12). To receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord, we each personally must believe that we are one of the reasons he died on Calvary. We must believe that he bore our sins on the cross and that he paid the ransom price for us. And on the basis of this belief, we must call out to him in repentance and faith. We must turn from our sin and trust in him. We must say with absolute sincerity and commitment, “Jesus, I am with you!”

The moment we do this, Jesus will claim us and proclaim:

Father, this one’s with me

Part of the family

One of the reasons I died on Calvary

Father, welcome him in

I paid the price for him

Father, oh Father, this one’s with me

* “This One’s With Me”, written by Leonard Ahlstrom and Eddie Carswell, sung by Newsong on their CD People Get Ready (Benson Music Group, 1994).

** Bible translation: All Bible quotations are from the Revised Standard Version (1972), except Romans 8:34, which is from the New International Version.

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