In these days of PC (politically correct) talk and the incorrectness of offending another person, it has become increasingly difficult to speak the truth. In my previous post the topic was about finding our way back to God. But what does that mean? While we’re finding our way back to God at what point along that journey do we find we can say that we’re definitely going to heaven? As usual, the Bible is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Ps 119:105). God doesn’t want to leave us in the dark on this critical question.
So why are we confused on the matter? I believe our confusion results from (a) a desire to sort out this key question in the affirmative regarding our family members and friends, (b) the scriptures are quite clear on the matter, and (c) God has told us that we look at outward appearances but that God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). Who can know the heart of a man? Only God. Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7, Christ tells us what is going to happen when some of us face the final judgment. In Matt 7:21-23 He tells us that some will say they did a lot of good things in God’s name and Christ will say to them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.”
Not only don’t we know who of our family and friends are going to be in heaven, many people think they’re going there, but don’t have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life. What’s up with that? How much worse can it get? Let’s see if we can’t find some answers.
When Billy Graham would preach at his meetings in cities all over the world, he would repeatedly preface his words with, “The Bible says …” Likewise, I want to stay on target with what the Bible says, so will quote scripture. Many laugh at the man who wore a colored wig and showed up at various sporting events displaying a sign that simply said, “John 3:16.” The hoped for result was that many would go to their Bibles and read what John 3:16 has to say. It says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The story is told in Acts 16 of the Philippian jailer who asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s reply was simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
Ephesians 2:8-9 reads as follows, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Here is the thing we must keep in mind in answering the question of who is going to heaven. Our job here on earth is to love our neighbor. God tells us not to judge others so that we won’t be judged. God alone can see a man’s heart. King David, who was far from perfect, was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14, Acts 13:22). As our faith in Christ is a personal one that plays itself out as we exercise our faith, we need to limit our speculation to ourselves. Acts 10:42 tells us that God has appointed Christ to judge the living and the dead.
Since God knows our hearts, He has reserved the ability to determine who goes into heaven and who does not. He has ruled out works as the key. The only key for entry to heaven is a heart level belief that Jesus is who He said He is. Set aside the judging of others; what of those who were confident that they would be welcomed at the final judgment?
We have tremendous capacity to fool ourselves. We deny the truth. One has only to look at how our society makes up its own version of convenient truth. If I sin, I do penance to compensate. If I do good things caring for the homeless and those in need, surely that counts for a few points with God! Or when I die, if my friends pray hard enough, they’ll get me in. The question asked most often is not whether God exists, but whether God is good. If God is good, by our standards, surely He gives credit for being a good friendly person who loves people. These are the people to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.”
My prayer and passion is that more will place their faith in Christ alone and His work to reconcile us with the Father. The simplicity is hard to accept and understand. But it is real. God has given us His word on how to find our way back to Him. That part is not a secret. The real question is what each of us does with the truth He has revealed for us.
I’m going to close this segment with another Billy Graham quote regarding who will attain eternal life in heaven. Billy is quoted as saying that we’re going to be surprised when we get there. We’ll be surprised as to who is there and who is not there. Who do you say that Jesus was? What will be your rationale for entry into the kingdom of heaven?
While not comprehensive, hopefully this adds a little light.