Column by Manning Pastor Sam Livingston: Who needs a passport?


If you ever plan to travel out of a country legally, you need to possess a passport. This document connects the holder with his or her country, authorizing travel to foreign countries and authenticating the bearer's identity, citizenship, right to protection while abroad and right to reenter his or her native country. It is just a good practice to have an up-to-date passport. Some of us have loved ones who are currently residing in other countries. We know that anything can happen at any given time to a family member living abroad. The last thing we want to experience is having to wait on a passport to be issued before we can take a trip to be with them.

Who, then, needs a passport? If you wish to visit another country, you need a passport. If you have loved ones in another country, you need a passport. If your new job requires you to do international travels, you need a passport. Not having a passport with loved ones living abroad means that you can only see them in person if they travel to your country. Possessing a passport means that you can visit loved ones in another country any time you are able to.

Some of us believe in life after death, and some of us do not. I for one believe in life after death. We just don't live, then die, and that's it. We are all going to spend eternity somewhere. I would like to offer more options, but we only have two: heaven or hell. Unfortunately, all of us have family and friends at both locations. For one of these locations, you need a passport to get there. There is not a passport requirement for the other location. Perhaps you have guessed it. If your final destination is hell, all you have to do is live like an hellion, and you can get there without a passport. This is the easiest and simplest way out of this life. While it might seem rewarding now, the payment later is promised to be forever painful. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). The free passport to hell is a death that never dies! The alternative, however, is a gift of eternal life.

What is the gift, and how is it obtained? The gift of eternal life is the invitation to the kingdom of God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whenever a person accepts Jesus as the risen savior and son of God almighty, he or she becomes saved immediately. Salvation is the passport from Earth to heaven. The salvation passport, like our citizenship passport, must remain in an actively updated status to be acceptable at the gate. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Revelation 21:27

Those with a heavenly passport find comfort in knowing that their name is placed in the Lamb's book of life. Entry into heaven is reserved for those whose name is secured in the book of life by the free gift of God through the invitation to the kingdom of God given by Jesus Christ. "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). The spirit of God draws the unsaved, Jesus secures the drawing with a personal invitation, the unsaved believes, and the passport to heaven is solidified.

The best thing about this whole process is the fact that we do not have to keep up with the passport. The names of the believers are already written in Jesus' book of life. From this point, maintaining the covenant made between the believer and Jesus is all that is required.

Final recap, if hell is the destination, no passport is needed. If heaven is the destination, a passport (salvation) is needed to be with family, friends and loved ones forever.

In God We Trust!

Sam Livingston is pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Manning.