Who is going to Heaven?
Greetings precious people, I hope that you are doing well today and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ today. In todayís article I would like to address a request that came to me through e-mail some time ago. It has to do with who is going to heaven and what various religions, cults, and others have to say about it.
As always, we will be exploring this from a Biblical perspective. The reason for this is simple, the Bible is Godís Word to man. It is the only thing that you can fully rely on and trust in, unlike manís ideas, philosophies, and opinions. Manís opinion has little barring on anything really except giving him a false sense of importance. When it comes to oneís eternal state, manís opinion is worthless. I know that this statement is not real popular knowing that we live in a society where oneís opinion is sought after and esteemed highly. Have you noticed how popular the radio talk shows have become that seek after its listening audience to call in and share their opinion? Or many of our so called "news" stations that will spend a minute or so reporting the "top story" and then spend the next several minutes interviewing people on what their opinions are on that subject. I have come to realize that my opinion is worth very little if anything. What is important though, is what Godís Word, the Bible has to say about the issues of life.
Having said all this, let me cite what a few of the major cults and religions have to say concerning heaven. Most of the cults and religions say that the only way to heaven is for a person to belong to their group, organization, church, or religion. And with this, a number of rites and rituals must be observed over a period of time. Some even go, as far as to say that for anyone to have any assurance of going to heaven is pure presumption on his or her part. They tell us that no one knows for certain, we really wonít know till we get there. (Well donít you think that may be a little too late?) This same group and others like them say that everyone must spend some time (depending on how good or bad you were or how much money you or your remaining family is willing to give to the church to lessen your sentence) in a place where you suffer torment for a designated period of time.
Another popular group would have us to believe that only a select 144, 000 will be populating heaven. Of course this 144, 000 has already been selected and neither you nor I are among them. The remaining faithful members of this cult will spend eternity here on earth in a paradise state. This group also denies the existence of a literal hell as the Bible clearly depicts.
Other groups tell us that there are various levels of heaven. One of the most notable of these groups tell its followers that if they die killing a Jew or an American, they will be assured eternal bliss in heaven, having at their disposal 70 perpetual virgins to do whatever they desire for all eternity. A different group tell their followers that if they die in good standing with their church they will be able to call up their bride from the dead or choose another, be given a planet of their own and produce spiritual beings for all eternity. Maybe you noticed this is very appealing to the men in these groups, not so great for the women.
Many within these groups maintain that being "good" is an important contributing factor in a person attaining to that celestial state known as Heaven. There are a number of problems with this concept of being "good". First of all, who is it that determines what is good and good enough? Is it the head of the organization, a group of individuals, or is it left up to each individual to determine how good is good enough? One of the major problems with this line is, with each leader, governing group, or individual there is always going to be a change of mind and standard with each as time goes by.
Another problem with this concept of "being good enough" to go to heaven is without the greatest of all problems is what the Bible has to say about manís "goodness". The Bible makes it clear from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation that man is not good and can never be in his natural sinful condition. Who set this standard and makes this assessment of mankind you might ask? God does and He reveals it in His Word the Bible.
The following is the most concise summation of Godís assessment of man found in the Bible. In Romans 3:10-23, "As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." "Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Jesus said this to His followers one day, Matthew 5:20, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." This no doubt created great concern to His listeners for in their eyes there was no one more righteous and assured of going to Heaven than the scribes and the Pharisees. The scribes and the Pharisees were the religious leaders of their day.
On another occasion, one of these Pharisees came to Jesus at night to ask Him some questions. We read in John 3:1-3, "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
From the Bible, we understand that no one is or ever can be good enough to get to Heaven on their own. This is because we are all sinners and sin separates us from God. So it is not a matter of being "good enough" to go to Heaven. It is as we read in the previous verse, a matter of being "Born again".
A few verses later Jesus would explain what it means to be "Born again". In John 3:13-19 we read, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
To become "Born again" a person must believe on the Lord Jesus. To believe means to place all your trust in, lean all your weight upon Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin and salvation. To turn away from all attempts of your own to make yourself right in the eyes of God.
Have you done this? In what are you trusting to get to Heaven? Is it your membership in a church, good works, fulfilled certain rites and rituals, or some other set of rules and regulations? I will conclude with a portion of scripture from Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail email@example.com
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine