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I’m Going to Heaven Lieutenant Dan

One of the most iconic films of the 1990’s was Forrest Gump. It is a neat story of a simple man with a below average IQ who somehow lives an extraordinary life. In a part of the movie, Gump is sent to the conflict in Vietnam where he meets Lieutenant Dan.

A battle breaks out against the Vietcong and Forrest once again finds himself as the unlikely hero. He saves life after life by carrying the wounded out of the battle zone. One of the people that he saved was Lieutenant Dan. Most people would be happy to be saved from that, but not Dan. He had planned on dying in that battle and Forrest ruined that. On top of his crushed destiny, Dan lost his legs. His character would go down a path of self-destruction.

At one of Dan’s low points him and Forrest are together on New Year’s. Dan is yelling about how these preachers on TV are saying that he can walk again in heaven. It is a pretty dramatic scene as Dan mocks and insults that notion. Then Forrest Gump cuts in with one of my favorite lines of the movie. “I’m going to heaven Lieutenant Dan”.

I don’t know what Forrest’s religious upbringing was supposed to be, but the certainty in which he said it is what makes it so powerful. Can you say that with confidence?

I know that many people would say “I think I am going to heaven”. Some people might say “I hope I am going to heaven”. Some may say “I have no idea if I am going to heaven”. You need to realize that you can KNOW if you are going to heaven or not.

Confidence is a funny thing. Confidence should be encouraged and discouraged. There are a lot of people that are confident that shouldn’t be. Remember some of the awful tryouts on American Idol? That is confidence that should be discouraged. But confidence is healthy when it is based on the truth.

In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”.

That scene is judgement day. Jesus is saying that there are going to be people who approach judgement who think they are ready, but aren’t. He says that these people will do really good works in his name, but he is still going to send them away into eternal damnation. That may leave you thinking that you just can’t ever really know for sure.

Anticipating our minds thinking in this way, Jesus continues in 7:24-27 and tells us that we can be confident in our salvation. He speaks of a wise man who builds his house on the solid foundation and the foolish man who builds his house on the sand. The rock is a sturdy foundation and when the storm comes, the house will stand. The sand does nothing to keep the house standing in the storm. In bible school the little kids sing “the foolish man’s house went SPLAT!”. This represents these two people on judgement day.

There are people who can be confident in their salvation and others who have nothing to stand on. Where does this confidence of “building your house on the rock” come from? It comes from what Jesus said in 7:21. “He who does the will of my Father”.

The people who Jesus will reject are all around us. They are people who obviously believe in their heart that Jesus is the Christ. They are people that are doing good things. But they are people who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thess 1:8). Their belief in Jesus is not the belief that is necessary for salvation (John 3:36, James 2:26). They are people that have confidence in the words of a preacher that tells them to just say a sinner’s prayer. They are people who are confident because they “feel” saved. They are people who were told to “accept Jesus into your heart”. They are people who are approaching the judgement with the sandy confidence from the teaching of man.

Jesus wants us to be confident and sure that we are going to heaven. That’s why he says to build your confidence on the rock. The rock is obeying the word of God. Jesus said if we abide in his word we are his disciples (John 8:31). The people who will be saved are those who DO the will of the Father. If you want to confidently say “I am going to heaven”, do what Jesus said.

Jesus said to be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16). Please compare that with everything your preacher or pastor has told you about the subject. Jesus didn’t teach that baptism happens after you are saved. He said he that believes and is baptized will be saved. The line separating salvation and condemnation can-not be crossed without baptism. Jesus never said what you have been told.

At the LaFollette Church of Christ, we teach what Jesus said to do to be confident in your salvation and to remain confident (2 Pet 2:11). We would love to have you visit with us.

I am open and willing to discuss this with anyone who has a question. Please email with any questions.


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