Who Is Going To Heaven?
There's an old gospel song that points to the sad fact that "Ever'body talkin bout heaven ain't goin there." Though I know not everyone will go to heaven, I have yet to meet someone who would state that they do not want to go. I have heard of stories telling of young, ignorant people who said they wanted "to go to hell so they could party with the devil" for eternity, but I am not sure whether or not that's a true account or something told just to make a point. Most anybody in their right mind would never want to go to hell, but would rather enjoy the promises and comfort of heaven and the eternal rest.
But, as much as everybody wants to go to heaven, we need to ask the eternally-important question: Who is going to heaven? Is everyone going? Is anyone going? What hope do we have of entering heaven? And to answer this, we must ask another question: What does the Bible say?
As a member of the Lord's church, known in this country as the church of Christ, I have heard people all my life say, "You guys think you're the only ones going to heaven." This is a biased statement that has usually been passed down without the one who made the statement having ever heard someone make that claim. And if anyone should make that claim, it would be made without any evidence to verify the claim and, at the same time, exhibit an unbelievable degree of arrogance and boasting about a matter that is outside his realm of knowledge. Christ Himself will be the judge in the end, and to claim knowledge of what the judgment will be even before it is made is presumptuous, in the least.
That is not to say that we cannot know who is going to heaven, though. When someone does ask me if I think "we" are the only ones going to heaven, all I can do is ask them, "Do you believe only the saved are going to heaven? That's what I believe." I believe that because that's what I find in the Bible. Let's look, shall we?
Before we get to who may enter into heaven, we must first agree on some terms of equal meaning. When we talk about those who will enter heaven, we need to understand that those people are also identified as the saved. In the vision of the New Jerusalem (a parallel to heaven), John was made to understand that only "those who are saved shall walk in its light" and "there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life." (Rev. 21:24-27) It should be noted at this time that there are many passages in the New Testament that reveal to us what has been done for us and what we must do to be saved (cf. Eph. 2:5, 8; Titus 3:5; Rom. 10:13; 2 Pet. 3:9; Rom. 10:9, 10; Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:1, 2). God has shown mercy towards us as sinners and extended His grace to us in offering the way of salvation, but we must reach out and accept it, and then hold fast to those words of salvation if we desire salvation. We also find that the Lord "added to the church daily those who were being saved" from the beginning of the history of the church (Acts 2:47). Those who were saved were those who had done those things all of those things that the Lord said would bring salvation.
This passage should forever answer those who say "I can get to heaven without being a part of any church." That may be partly true, because you can get to heaven without being a member of just "any" church, as long as you are a part of the Lord's church. It is made up of those who are saved, and the saved make up the body of those who will enter into heaven. Think of it as a logical statement along the lines of "If A=B and A=C, then B=C", shown as follows:
and if church=saved
then heaven=those added to the church
This is wholly unacceptable to many, and for various reasons. Some reject this narrow view because it excludes a great many people. That is a weak argument, to say the least, for the majority of mankind has believed gross error at one time or another (Ex., the alignment of our solar system). But, just because the majority of mankind believed it did not in any way make the view correct. Truth has never been based on majority opinion. Such thinking caused many to die when religious leaders held to erroneous views that some refused to embrace. Many more will suffer in eternal condemnation because they refuse to believe the Lord's church teaching about who will be saved and go to heaven.
Others reject this teaching because they think that everyone is going to heaven, either at Judgment (Universalism), or after suffering for awhile in some place of temporal torment that serves as a "purging" of sins not yet forgiven when the individual died or when Christ returned. Is it any wonder that many today espouse the belief that "God is such a loving God He wouldn't send anyone to eternal punishment"? Sadly, these are exactly the people of whom Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:21-23 when He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" These people thought they were saved, but they were not, for they had not kept the Father's will. We should note that they even recognized and confessed the Lordship of Jesus! On another occasion, Jesus, when asked by His disciples if there would be few saved, answered, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luke 13:24)
At the end of John's vision, he was told by the angel, "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." (Rev. 22:14) Who is going to heaven? The ones who obey the Lord's commands! We can tiptoe and dance all around the truth until our feet are sore and calloused, but it will not change the truth, it will not open the doors to heaven one millimeter, and not one more person will enter in.
I want to go to heaven. Don't you? If so, what are you doing about it?
By Steven Harper
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