in chapter one, the author challenges the reader's confidence with the question: how sure are you that you are going to heaven? there are few greater questions that men could struggle with. but instead of leaving one with a sense of guilt and shame—instead, to encourage—all men need to do is believe in order to be completely sure that they will go up, and not down—which is far from impossible. an essential responsibility is to believe in Jesus as the one who can forgive your rebellion against God and take you to heaven when you die. the only face Father God will recognize is the face of His Son Jesus.
from Isaiah, we might understand that our self-righteous acts reflect the likeness of filthy bloodstained rags—not to be confused with the clothes of a blessed homeless man. so Jesus will not be evaluating our spiritual condition based upon exterior well-meant deeds, or the fraternized pagan ways of the sinistral orders—through which oaths bind men to darkness. instead of a stimulus, good works become a righteous response to the free gift of eternal life. not by the futile perfection of lifestyle through self-discipline or the merits of helping people. salvation is not by works, but many still bring glory to self and prop up their pride with it. Jesus already finished the work, so we can only be proud of what He did.
there are places men can go to step upon a profane chessboard in order to become another pawn for the devil to game. understand that even in the civilized societies of today, there are still pagans who sacrifice children to Mammon for a demon to respond to the shed blood by bringing worldly riches back to them. a sweet deal for that fallen angel in the long run, who will not hesitate to collect a soul. maybe the idolized demon will personally escort its worshiper down in the end—what an eternally disastrous privilege that would be.
again, the author asked a man on a plane: how sure are you that you are going to heaven?
How good must a person be to get to heaven?
thinking about that chapter's title might cause the reader to consider the futility of self-effort. since a man could not enter heaven by the means of hundreds of thousands of self-righteous acts. in fact, each selfish act of goodness would be a sin.
perhaps another question might be: How [conformed to the image of Christ] must a person be in order to enter heaven? but it is only by faith in the finished work of Jesus that leads to transformation of the heart which conforms us to His Image. in that sense, our faith is what becomes substantial, not our tangible works in this world. even the broken bread and the wine should remind us of how substantial the Body and Blood are for us right now. would you rather put all of your faith in Jesus, instead of attempting to walk the straight line of the 10 Commandments by your own means? which would come to nothing.
when the kingdom of heaven comes, countless worldly legacies will be wiped off the face of the earth—to be forgotten forever—no matter how great such renowned lost souls became in the eyes of the world. after devoting so many thoughts to self—instead of Jesus—in the end they became nothing in the kingdom of heaven, but instead became objects of wrath that slipped through the rocks by their own deceit, just as they were deceived by the devils that hell was made for.
the fact is, we can not lay claim to righteousness as we would a possession, since it is only first by believing who Jesus is that Father God can attribute righteousness to us. by putting our faith in the Son of God first by His blood sacrifice on the cross, not by self-righteous conformance to the 10 Commandments. consider salvation in terms of what God gave you through faith in His Son, instead of what you got from God by self-righteous effort—which is impossible anyway.
consider how Satan must legally sue for a soul before he can seek to destroy a person's life. why can the devil not just attack without asking? because he must sue for a soul based upon the righteousness which was not established by him. which is a legal bottleneck for Satan, who must approach the Source.
the fourth chapter asked the question: ...will they get a second chance to go to heaven?
one way to consider the answer to that question could be based upon the fact that God reveals his invisible qualities to all of us on a daily basis.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.(NIV)
from that we can understand that His invisible qualities are so clear, pure and powerful to the point that justifiable denial has been made completely void. to then make denial brazenly obvious and subject to Judgment. pure because God is perfectly pure infinite love. clear because there is not one single subtle shadow of change in that Light. and powerful because God could also be named the Omnipotence.
one aspect of the appearance of God is unapproachable light, so any sin for that matter becomes a serious affront as it is exposed in the light of infinite Father God. in that sense, denial becomes blatant because God is infinite and having such unapproachable light, the reproach of denial becomes an incredibly obvious affront before the eyes of God—and so a great sin.
that understanding can relate to how the religious authorities sinned against Light by accusing the Son of God of having demons. here they crossed the line, and forgiveness fell short.