When the American astronauts astonished the human race with their spectacularly successful first visit to the moon, they took Apollo 11 on a very narrow trajectory through space. Only the tiniest margin for deviation was permitted, and flight corrections were made periodically throughout the voyage.
Now suppose the NASA control center in Houston had received word from the Apollo 11 that the astronauts were off course, and Houston had replied, “Oh, that’s all right. There are a number of roads leading to the moon. Just keep on the way you are going!” You and I know that they would have kept going, but they would never have come back.
People today don’t like that word “narrow,” but Jesus said there are two roads to the future life for all of us. There are two destinies: Heaven or hell. And He taught that the way to hell and destruction is broad, but the way to Heaven is narrow, and “there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). Christ did not divide men and women into rich and poor, black and white or educated and uneducated. He divided them into those on the broad road that heads toward destruction, and those on the narrow road leading to eternal life.
Which road are you on?
You can get onto the broad road with no trouble. All the extremes of humanity are traveling on it: the sex glutton, the drug pusher, the murderer, the rapist, the thief. But a lot of church people are on it, too. Matthew tells us that at the same time Jesus was speaking about the broad road, He described some people who thought they were on their way to Heaven, but when they got to the judgment He said to them, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).
They protested, “But Lord, I cast out demons in your name. Lord, I was an evangelist. I was this; I was that” (Cf. Matthew 7:22). And Jesus said He would say to them, “I don’t even know you.”
He said the broad road is a deceptive road. It may seem right to many people to get what they can out of life, to seek their own pleasure, to satisfy their own appetites. But the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Jesus said that the broad road leads to a place or a condition He described as hell. I can’t pretend to solve all the mysteries of hell, but whatever else hell may mean, it is separation from God. Jesus used three words to describe it: fire, darkness and death.
The Bible teaches that God does not take delight in the fact that men and women on the broad road are lost and bound for hell. It declares that God loves us. He sent His Son to keep us from being lost. He sent the Holy Spirit to prompt us and convict us of our sins so that we would not be lost. If you are lost, and if you go to hell, it will be by your own deliberate choice, because God never meant you to go there. It is your own decision.
Commander Neil Armstrong and the other astronauts showed us afresh the amazing precision of the laws of nature. We know exactly at what temperature water boils, and at what temperature it freezes. If God is so precise about His natural laws, why should He be haphazard about His spiritual and moral laws?
Jesus said that the road is narrow and the gate is narrow, and that He Himself is the gate. “I am the door,” He declared. “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9). He told us, “Don’t try to come some other way. That’s the way a robber would do it. There is only one door, and one gate. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the way to Heaven. You have to come by Me.”
You might say to me, “Billy, I can’t accept that. I want to go to Heaven, and I think there is such a place. But I just don’t want to come by the way of Jesus.” Well, I’m sorry, but there is no compromise at this point. I have no authority from the Bible to bargain with your soul, no authority to lower the standards. It is true that we live in an age of tolerance in which you can believe anything you want to believe. But it is also true that there are rules in every realm of life, and Jesus has given us a precise rule about the way to Heaven. According to Scripture, Heaven is a gift of God because of what His Son, Jesus Christ, did on the cross.
What is Heaven going to be like? I believe the Bible teaches that Heaven is a literal place. I believe that out there in space, where there are millions of galaxies, many of them a hundred thousand light years or more in diameter, God can find some place to put us. I’m not worried about where it is. I know it is going to be where Jesus is.
Jesus said to His followers: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Abraham, we are told, “looked for a city … whose builder and maker is God” (Cf. Hebrews 11:10). Scripture says that “here we have no continuing city” (Hebrews 13:14). There is nothing permanent in this life. Nothing lasts. But there are some things we know about Heaven, and one is that, according to the Bible, Heaven is going to be home.
The moment we accept Christ, we become strangers here. We become citizens of two worlds. As citizens of this world, we ought to vote, help in good projects in our communities, become interested in all the social problems that we face. We ought to do what we can to make our planet a better place in which to live. But the Bible says in several places that we are pilgrims and strangers on the Earth, and that our permanent citizenship is in Heaven.
I am on the sunset side now. I’m a great-grandfather and very proud of it. I’m not likely to live to be a hundred. By all standards, most of my life is gone, and I’m glad to be a citizen of the future world. The advertisements try to make us believe that some of the modern retirement centers are “heaven.” But I have visited these places and know a lot of older people, and I can tell you that it takes more than retirement to deal with the aches and pains and problems of old age.
Retirement is not quite what the ads say, unless Christ is in your heart. You experience a foretaste of Heaven the moment you receive Christ; Heaven comes to live in your heart, because where Christ is, there is Heaven.
In the future life, those of us who know Christ are going to be like Him. There will not be any racial discrimination or any poverty or any war. The police won’t have anything to do. What a world it is going to be! The utopia we dreamed of and thought we could build on Earth, but failed to do, is going to be in Heaven.
It is going to be a place of service. Some people have the idea that Heaven consists of sitting under a palm tree and having someone wave a branch over them. But in Revelation 22:3 we are told, “His servants shall serve Him.” I believe that means we are going to work.
Heaven will be a place where mysteries will be cleared up. Why did we have suffering down here? Why were loved ones taken at a particular moment? We will understand something of the enormity of sin. We will understand why there is a hell, and what the devil is all about and why God allowed him to exist as long as he did. We’ll know something of the price Christ paid on the cross for our salvation, which we cannot fathom now. In that day we will understand.
Like many others, I have personally staked my eternal future on the fact that the Bible is true and that Jesus knew what He was talking about. If you have not made such a commitment, I am asking you to do it. As an individual you have a right to reject the suggestion. You don’t have to believe what I have been telling you. It is interesting to read about, perhaps, but it is your privilege to pass it up. That’s your freedom of choice.
I also have the same freedom, and I have accepted God’s offer of salvation in Christ. It has brought many answers to my life and has given me peace, security and serenity.
One last thought: Heaven will be the place of the final coronation of the King of kings, when Jesus Christ is crowned King of the Universe. What a day that is going to be! I am looking forward to the time. My seat is reserved. It was bought not with my silver and gold; it was bought with the blood of Christ on the cross.
Christians don’t have to go around discouraged and despondent with their shoulders bent. We are on our way to Heaven! This is not our home and this is not our world. We are going to help here all we can, but we are on our way to a better world. When one gets that perspective, one can be a better servant of the Lord right here. By warnings, by invitations and by commands, the Bible urges people to make that decision.
Which road are you on today? Which direction are you traveling? Are you going toward destruction, or are you going toward life and on course to Heaven? Which way?
You can make the choice. You can take the first step. It’s costly. It’s not easy to go through that narrow gate, and it’s not easy to follow Christ, but it is a glorious and wonderful experience, even here on this Earth. Think of it—the joy, the peace, the sense of forgiveness that He gives you; and then Heaven too!
Will you come? ©1969 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Above: Billy Graham preaches in Anaheim, California, in 1969.
Photo: BGEA Archives