What did Moses think about the cost of going to heaven? He had enough to discourage the average person. He was not allowed to enter into the promised land with those he had led. He disobeyed God by smiting the rock when God told him to speak to it. Seemingly a small act of disobedience we say, but the consequences were great. As the result of this act of disobedience God said, “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Num. 20:12). This seems like such a small act of disobedience, why should God keep Moses from going into the land with the people he had led this far? God was forever establishing the importance of doing exactly what He says do when a specific command is given. The world today as a whole refuses to believe this. “Do whatever you wish just as long as you are honest and sincere,” the religionists today cry. But it is not a matter of what today’s religious leaders say, it is wholly and solely a matter of what God says. Now did Moses give up because of this Word from God? No, he went on doing his best. Finally, God took Moses up to the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, and “shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan” (Deu. 34:1). Moses looked over the land and then died. God buried him in a valley, “but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (Deu. 34:6). Though Moses did not enter that physical Canaan, we know his reward was great for he appeared with Elias in the transfiguration of Jesus (Mat. 17). Yes, when we get to heaven, Moses will be there and we will meet him face to face. He did not get discouraged and give up. He kept on and the Lord rewarded him. Evidently, he thought heaven was worth whatever it cost to get there.
Next, did Job think the cost of going to heaven was too great? Not for a minute. He suffered like few earthlings have ever suffered, but he knew that in heaven he would be free of such sufferings. Listen to his determination to please God: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). And listen further: “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25,26). Job did not doubt—he knew that his Redeemer lived—he knew he would come to the earth, to this world and do his work of redemption, and, best of all, he knew there would be a bodily resurrection in the last day. Paul, centuries later said, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). The change will be fast—so fast perhaps that no human invention can detect it, but a change from the earthly to the heavenly there will be. Job of old looked forward to it and rejoiced in the fact that he would have hope beyond this life. The cost for him was not too much.
Let us call upon David next: What did he think about the future life? Did he believe in it? When the baby was born and died, the king arose, refreshed himself and took nourishment. When asked why his change of attitude, he said, “can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23).
The blessed hope that the “sweet singer of Israel” had is the hope we have, only ours is perhaps even greater. Jesus had not been manifested in the flesh at that time, but David knew he would come and the final victory would belong to the righteous. If this is not enough then go back and read that immortal Shepherd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Notice the highlights of that glorious Psalm: “green pastures…he leadeth me beside the still waters…restoreth my soul…through the valley of the shadow of death…a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…goodness and mercy shall follow me…I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Now you reach the conclusion, did David think the cost was too much?
We next call upon Stephen. The hope of eternal life cost him the supreme price—his life (Acts 7:54-60). We need to read the entire seventh chapter to get the entire picture. Read his sermon, the longest recorded sermon in the New Testament. It is quite an historical account from the call of Abraham through the death of Jesus. The people hated what they heard for they all stood condemned and knew it. They were “cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). They stoned him, and in his dying moments he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and his last words were, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” and “lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:59-60). With this, he fell asleep and went to be with the Lord forever. Did this grand prize cost him too much? Ask him when you see him in heaven and hear what he says!
We can consult the apostle Paul and find if what he paid was too great a price. Perhaps none other among the chosen ones suffered as much as did this apostle. Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 and determine for yourself if Paul thought he paid too much. After all these sufferings, he still praised the name of the Lord and expressed his predominant desire to go and be with him forever (Phi. 1:23).
After consulting Paul, consult the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11:33-40. They faced torments like few ever faced in this life. The world was “not worthy of them,” but heaven was. No, they did not pay too much.
Finally, though we could call upon many others if space permitted, we call upon the greatest one of all—Jesus. He paid the supreme price in a way that no others did. He laid down His life freely for our sins (Heb. 2:9). He “tasted death for every man.” In His extreme agony on the cross He even felt forsaken of His Father (Mat. 27:46).
Jesus had to stand the test for the salvation of the whole world. Everything depended upon His response to the cross, the very cruelest of deaths. There was a curse attached to dying on a cross: “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). Jesus died freely and He would do it all over again if it took it for our salvation. Evidently He did not think the cost too great. Now this brings us to our last question: What does it cost us today?
It costs us self-denial and this is the hardest thing we can do, deny self. It is not hard to deny others but when it comes to denying self; well, that’s different. But this is the cost we must pay (Mat. 16:24). Look at a selfish brotherhood today—multi-million dollar buildings, not for the glory of God but for the satisfaction of the vanity of many of our own brethren. “Oh, look how they must love the Lord!” some exclaim as they pass by our Cathedral like edifices. It should rather be, “Look at how they love themselves!” Now we all love nice, even beautiful edifices in which to meet, but we have gone far too far and any sober thinking person will have to admit it. Self-denial is not much in evidence when we meet in buildings that literally cost millions upon millions of dollars!
Sometimes going to heaven costs us those we love much in this world, members of our own families. Sometimes we have to “deny” family to follow Jesus (Luke 14; 16; 17). We are often hated by those round about (Luke 6:22). These are not little prices to pay. Are we up to paying them if we have to?
Going to heaven costs us obedience (Rom. 1:16; 10:16-17; Heb. 5:9; 1 Pet. 1:22-23). We will be called “legalists” when we obey the Lord and command others to do the same. Can we take their criticisms? Is heaven worth it? Going to heaven demands total dedication (Mat. 12:30; Luke 9:62). This means we will have to forego many personal pleasures at times. Are we willing to do it? “But, what about the majority?” comes from every side, it seems. Just one response to that: so what? The majority cannot obey for us, live for us, or go to heaven for us.
Now we come to the conclusion by asking again, is heaven worth what it costs? Is being with the saved of all ages worthwhile? Is being with loved ones in the Lord again worthwhile? Is being with heavenly hosts worthwhile? Is being happy forever worthwhile? It is believed by some that the most beautiful part of the entire Bible is the last part of John 14:3: “that where I am, there ye may be also.” To be with Jesus, our Savior, our elder brother, forever—think of it!
Yes, the only conclusion we can sensibly reach is, whatever it takes to go to heaven, the cost is small indeed to what the believer receives in return. Thank God for this heavenly home far beyond the skies, yet so near to the true believer. And I tell you this for sure: as for me, I plan to go there!
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the excellent chapter by the same name in the 1989 Bellview Lectureship Book, Pensacola, Florida. Thanks to brother Smith for such a fine manuscript and for encouraging us all to pay whatever the cost that Heaven may be our eternal home.