I Want To Go To Heaven

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“Every athlete exercises self-control…They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one…” (1 Corinthians 9:25)

John “Pepper” Martin played for the St. Louis Cardinals and was the star of the 1931 World Series. Following one of those games, Pepper was interviewed by a newsman. The first question he was asked was, “Pepper, what’s your chief ambition?” Without hesitating, Pepper responded, “My chief ambition is to go to heaven.”

The newsman who interviewed Pepper Martin laughed at his response and said rather sarcastically, “Oh, you want to play a harp, eh?” Martin shot back at him, “My friend, I don’t think that is funny. I know you don’t mean to be a smart aleck, but there’s something wrong with a person’s attitude when he’s flippant about serious things. If there’s anything foolish about reading the Bible every day and believing what it says, and if there’s anything funny about wanting to go to heaven when you leave this world, then I’m afraid life here isn’t worth living.”

What a goal! To go to heaven. I’ve often asked people, “If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would you choose?’ The responses have been interesting. A common response is, “I’d like to go to Europe, Paris, or to Greece, etc.” I don’t remember anyone saying, “I’d like to go to heaven.”

The Christian life is like running a race. In the ancient Olympic games, the winner received a perishable wreath of ivy or pine. We are in a race for an imperishable wreath that will never decay. We want to go to heaven. Nothing we gain in life, in our careers, or accumulate through wealth will be taken into our caskets. Our friends will not go with us. We will go alone. All earthly treasures will be left behind. But we look beyond these temporary trinkets to an eternal home where we will live for all eternity. In the words of our hymn, “Heaven will surely be worth it all.”

Al Behel
The Great Smoky Mountains church of Christ
Pigeon Forge, TN

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2 thoughts on “I Want To Go To Heaven”

  1. The perishable winners wreath was a branch of the wild olive tree Kallistefanos Elea, not made of ivy or pine.
    Be sure and research historic facts correctly.
    Helga Blackstone,
    secretary of Highland Lakes church of Christ

    • Helga, thank you so much for your comment! We appreciate watchful readers checking details as they go along!

      Regarding the article, we must keep in mind that there is a difference between the Olympic Games that were held in July/August, and the Isthmian Games that were held in April/May the year before and the year after the Olympic Games.

      Nearly all scholars agree that Paul would have been referring to the Isthmian games in 1 Corinthians, since these games were held on the Isthmus of Corinth.

      That being the case, historical records confirm that the “crown” or garland awarded at these games was made of either pine, parsley, or even celery. Plutarch is the main source of this (https://topostext.org/work/297) although there are others.

      You are correct, however, that Olympic winners receives a crown made olive.

      But since Paul was referring to the Isthmian games, brother Behel’s research of historical fact is quite accurate.

      Thank you for your watchfulness!

      in Christ,

      Matt

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