Tag Archives: Heaven

Are You Good Enough To Get Into Heaven?

A question that I have asked a few times in the past on this blog deals with exploring why there is evil in the world.  I’ve asked this question both from the standpoint of why God allows bad things to happen to good people and why God allows evil in the world if he is indeed a good and gracious God.

However, a question that is seldom explored, and one that I have rarely, if ever, heard espoused from a theological standpoint is Can an evil person commit good acts?  Most purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ seek to point out mankind’s sin.  That we are fallen creatures.  And that we are separated from a Just and Holy God.

The Bible explains that we cannot have any hope of eternal life save from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  And the entire reason that sacrifice was (and is) necessary is because we are a fallen creation.  That is, all of humankind is sinful.  We have violated God’s law, and are worthy of death, which is an eternity in Hell.

And thus evangelists, those that seek to spread the Good News that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope of winning souls (changing lives) for His Kingdom and His Glory, are apt to explain the state of mankind.  And that state is a separated, sinful state.  But the Good News is that we need not suffer the penalty of that state because the price has already been paid for us.  By God himself.  As only he could.

I’ll return to that in a moment.  But before I do, perhaps you are one of the many who has wondered what in the world you have ever done to deserve God’s wrath.  Perhaps you have wondered, if indeed the Bible is true (and I assure you it is), why God’s standard is so high as to condemn all who have lived, who live, or who ever will live.

In other words, why would God’s grand design be one in which we cannot win?

The genesis of this question, whether we recognize it or not, comes from putting ourselves (humankind) at the center of the equation and not God.  We want to consider things from our point of view and not His.  But the creation should never try and explain the rules to the Creator.  Rather we should seek to understand Him and His purpose, His plan, and His grand design.  We can never understand it apart from Him because He is the one who put it all into motion.  Not us.

And when we consider things from our point of view we begin to reason that yes, perhaps I have lied, but they were only little white lies.  No one got hurt by them.  They were not some atrocious acts of evil that altered the world.  After all, the vast majority of us who have ever lived can honestly say that we have not murdered anyone.  And therefore we are mostly good and only a little bad, and thus we are not really deserving of Hell, and if there is a God (and I assure you there is) He will look favorably on us because we tried really hard and did more good than we ever did bad.

In doing so, we fail to consider things from God’s point of view.  God never, ever, once (that I am aware of) asked if we had told an egregious lie, only if we had lied.  Whatever that lie may have been.  And God never, ever, once applied some scale of good and evil to our state of sin.  Only whether we had, or had not sinned.  And the Bible clearly states that ALL have sinned (and thus come short of the Glory of God).

This then creates what many may think is a paradox.  How is it, that humankind, who is sinful in nature, can do so much good in the world?  If I am so bad, why is it I am so good?  Can one who is evil in nature, find it in their heart to do good in the world?

The Bible, not surprisingly, has an answer to that question.  No one would disagree that there is good in the world.  Of course there is.  But to place ourselves at the center of that good is a fallacy and leads us down a very dangerous path.

Paul of Tarsus explained it this way in Romans 8:18-24:  We are told that it is God who shows mercy and lifts up those who falter.  Even when we sin against God himself, God works His plan for good: Genesis 50:20.  Paul further asks the question:

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?  22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:21-24, KJV).

Paul, after telling us in Romans chapter 8 that we are all sinners who have fallen short of the Glory of God, tells us in Romans chapter 9 that we cannot even lay claim to the good that is in the world as it is God, and God alone, that shows His mercy in us by allowing His good works to be wrought in us.

So are we good enough to get into Heaven?  Most decidedly No.  Not when perceived from God’s point of view.  But are we without hope, being placed in a no-win situation by the very Creator who set His great plan into motion in the first place?  Of course not.  You, and I, and everyone else, have been given the free choice of belief.  We simply need to believe in Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the great work he did upon the Cross in order to redeem us from our sin.

Why?  Because it is all about Him, and not about us.  It is for His Honor, and His Glory, and for Him to receive Praise.

We simply need to stop making it about ourselves, and start making it all about Him.

A Final Thought on HELL

In my last three posts I’ve espoused quite a bit on the subject of Hell.  I’d like to take a final (for now) post to summarize and add a few concepts that I’ve not had the opportunity to cover in those posts.

I’ve had the great honor and privilege to sit under and be taught by some great men of God.  One of these individuals was Dr. Darrell Orman (no physical relation to me, although we certainly have a Spiritual relation), Pastor of First Baptist Church of Stuart Florida.  These individuals have taught me how to study and discern not only the truths of Scripture, but of the world around me.  And this has then translated into the development of my world view (essentially my theology).  Usually when you look at a building you do not see the foundation that it is sitting upon.  So you do not see the footers that were dug and poured that form the basis for holding that building up.  The same is true for an individual’s life.  You may not always see the foundation for which I base my arguments on, but I at least want you to have a clear enough picture to be able to discern for yourself their validity or their ineffectiveness. I’ll attempt to provide some of those insights here.

I’ve stated that I believe Hell is a finality.  It is an end state that is eternal.  In Isaiah 66:22-24 the prophet writes that the New Heavens and the New Earth which the Lord will make shall remain before Him.  A reference to the end state of humanity.  God says that one day this Earth (present day) and the Heavens above it will pass away and He will make a New Heavens and a New Earth to replace them and that the new creation will remain before him, that is it will exist forever and ever.  This is referenced again by John in Revelation 21:1.  Personally I think this is pretty exciting.  During the first Creation (Genesis 1) you and I were not around to witness the great work that God did.  But the second time around, I get a front row seat.  Imagine being able to witness first hand the Glory and the Splendor of all of Creation being brought into existence right before our very eyes.  How awesome will that be?  But also note what will transpire in that new Heaven and Earth.  Once a week and once a month God will bring all flesh (you and I) before Him, and those that are His children will go forth and look upon those that have transgressed (Sinned) against Him.  I believe this is God’s baseline.  His constant reminder to us of the great work he has done for us.  We will never, ever forget the great Mercy, and Grace, and Love he has shown us and the great work he performed on our behalf.  Hell is a finality (for all of eternity) because an eternal Hell balances an eternal Heaven.  Just as God’s great Mercy is for all of eternity, so is His great Judgement for all of eternity.  That is why this life is so precious and important.  The choices we make now will impact us for all of eternity.

I’ve also stated that Hell is God’s holding place (prison) for Sin.  The passage in Isaiah tells us that those who have transgressed against him (along with this passage in Revelation 20:10-15) will be imprisoned there and that they will not die.  I have heard theologians teach that everyone, part of God’s family or not (we would say the saved and the unsaved) will receive a new, incorruptible body.  Those in Hell will remain there and they will not die because their incorruptible bodies will not succumb to the fire.  But at the same time, they will not experience relief from that fire.  This is not a foreign concept to us. Most countries today have individuals that they imprison for life with no chance of parole.  If we, as humanity can see fit to imprison those within society that we deem unworthy of freedom, how much more can a Holy and Just God see fit to imprison those who have transgressed against him for all of eternity?

I’ve stated that we (humanity) are faced with a choice as to where our destiny lies.  Essentially the question that Nicodemus asked of Jesus Christ as recorded in John.  And Jesus’ answer, in John 3:16 tells us that we simply need to believe in Him. Jesus tells us that we have that choice to make.  We may believe in Him and have eternal Life, or we may reject Him and join the vessels of dishonor in Hell.

I’ve stated that God allowed us (humanity) to be immersed in that which was not Him in order that we could truly make that choice for His Honor and His Glory.  This is a theological conclusion on my part and is based on us being joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17) having suffered through being transgressors of God and bought and paid for with a price that He paid.  And from this standpoint, Hell is a part of God’s great plan.

A great many people in the world today think that Christianity wants to threaten them with the prospect of Hell.  Many want to turn Hell into a threat that God makes in order to get us to do what He wants us to do (if you don’t do good you’ll go to Hell).  Nothing could be further from the truth.  God doesn’t need to threaten us to have us do his will.  He is, after all, God.  Hell is not a threat, it is a consequence.  It was not created for us and we have to choose to end up there.  It is however, very much a reality and an integral part of God’s great plan.  In order to show us who He is, God first chose to show us who He is NOT.  And that required a place to keep that which God cannot have within his presence, Sin.  And thus we have Hell.

Hell makes perfect theological sense if you work it through.  But the only way you will escape it is through the person of Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross.  You cannot escape it by explaining away its existence as the Evolutionists try to do.  You cannot escape it by ignoring it as the Agnostics try to do.  And you cannot escape it though your own good works and efforts.  You must be rescued from it by Jesus Christ himself through belief in Him.

I truly hope that you realize you need to place your trust in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and believe in Him so that you do not spend an eternity in the finality that is a very real Hell.

Consider the Wise Men (3 Kings)

There are many things that bother people about Christians, but seemingly the one single thing that people really key in on is a Christians insistence upon Jesus Christ being the ONLY way to Heaven.  People don’t like being told that there is only one way to do something.  As a matter-of-fact, if you want to alienate someone from you and have them mad at you for a long time, simply tell them that when they are with you, it is your way or the highway.

And yet Christians come along and do exactly that.  They tell people that the only way you can get into Heaven is through Jesus Christ and belief in him.

And there are a lot of theists around the world that don’t want to hear that.  There are also a lot of atheists around the world that are threatened by that.

The theistic people that are threatened by the claim that Jesus Christ is mankind’s only hope to see Heaven are angered by the fact that this then trumps their god.  They want to believe that Jesus Christ is A way to Heaven, but he is not the ONLY way to Heaven.  Buddhists want to believe that Buddha is a way to Heaven.  Muslims want to believe that Mohamed the prophet is a way to Heaven.  Hindus want to believe that everything is a way to Heaven.  And a lot of good folks just want to believe that they are the way to Heaven.  If I just live a good life and am kind, I will get into Heaven.

Atheistic people are threatened by the claim that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven because they have some mistaken belief that this somehow limits their freedom or creates strife in the world.  This always amuses me greatly because it is generally these very people that have no problem whatsoever demanding that some cause they believe in be practiced, yet your cause cannot be because it encroaches upon peoples liberties.  An example of one of these causes might be abortion.  A cause that really does encroach upon my actual liberties.  A cause that costs me my tax dollars that I pay (I would never support abortion with my money unless forced to).  A cause that costs society in fractured lives (I could provide the stats if you doubt me here, but you can do the research yourself).  A cause that, in my humble point of view, legalizes the killing of innocent human beings (and before you jump on the bandwagon here, let me ask you, how in the world can these clinics be caught selling human body parts for research unless they are already developed?).  A cause that is affecting the very fabric of society, and yet when a Christian comes along and says that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven, they immediately have to be silenced.  Even though the Christian’s statement costs nothing and it’s only effect of society is what others allow it to have.  Nothing is forced on them, it is not a statement that disrupts peoples lives (unless they allow it too), it is simply a statement that may be accepted or rejected.

But I digress.  Even agnostics seem threatened by the statement that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to Heaven because they don’t like having their world disrupted by being told any absolutes.

Everyone appears to miss the fact that Christians are not making a claim on their own, rather they are repeating what they have been taught (and come to believe) by Jesus Christ himself.  It is not Christians who decided that Jesus Christ was the ONLY way to Heaven, it was Jesus Christ himself who made the statement:

“5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.  (John 14:5-7 King James Version (KJV))”

Jesus Christ made the statement that he was the only way to the Father (in Heaven) and he is the only one who ever has made this statement or could make this statement.  Buddha did not claim this, Mohamad did not claim this, not even Satan has claimed this, nor could they.  I believe God, as the author of truth, reserves this one claim for his Son and only his Son.

Suppose someone today were to make this claim.  A great world leader or an influential person who champions the cause of the poor and downtrodden.  Would you hold them credible?  I do not think you would.  There is one person, and only one person who ever could make this claim credibly.

But how do we know that Jesus Christ was credible in making this claim?  I believe there are many reasons, but consider this one – the Magi that came to Jesus as a young child bowed before him and worshipped him (Matthew 2).  They also brought him gifts of great value – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Where did these Magi (whom have been referred to as Wise Men and Kings) come from?  Matthew tells us only that they came from the East.  A lot of Biblical scholars place their origin in Persia, India, and Babylon.

Why would kings or wise men of obvious influence during this time travel to a foreign land and seek out a young child born in a stable and bow before him and worship him?  Their people were not looking for a Messiah.  And they probably did not have a complete understanding of the Old Testament (hence their questions of Herod).  And their method of finding Jesus was through secular means.  They told Herod they had “seen his star in the East”.  Note that they prescribed to Jesus Christ his very own star.  And because of this they recognized him as King of the Jews and in the very act of finding him and worshipping him and presenting him with gifts of great value, they in effect recognized him as King of Kings.

Why is Jesus Christ’s claim to be the ONLY way to Heaven credible?  Well one compelling reason is because the leaders of the countries which birthed the other religions of the world came and bowed down before him.

This Christmas season I hope you will take a moment to consider the Three Kings.  The Wise Men who came to Herod seeking the one who had his very own star in the heavens.  If they would come and worship Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords perhaps we should pause and give thought to his claim of being “the ONLY way to the Father” in Heaven.

Merry Christmas to ALL of YOU and may each and every one of you have a Blessed New Year.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Even as the Seattle Seahawks celebrated their big win the Stock Market took a dive.  There are winners and there are losers in life, but it is not always a zero sum game.

In Matthew 5:3 Jesus Christ said that the poor in spirit have the Kingdom of Heaven.

The word poor used here means destitute, totally without means, and without ability to gain anything on ones own.  It literally means the poorest of the poor.

The word Spirit used here is breath or wind.  It is the very breath of life.  It means the very essence of life and refers to the innermost person.  It is what make you, you.

Jesus Christ says that those destitute in their very being have the Kingdom of Heaven.  They possess the Kingdom of Heaven.  Theirs IS, the Kingdom of Heaven.

The world does not usually equate being poor with being rich.  But in God’s plan it is totally necessary.  It all hinges upon how you approach God.

If you approach God rich in Spirit, wealthy, and self-sufficient, there is nothing God can do for you.  You stand on your own and you do not truly need what God has to offer.

But when you approach God poor, and destitute, and truly in need, in your innermost being, God has the riches of Heaven itself ready to make you rich.  When you are poor, God is ready and able to make you rich.  When you are rich, before God you think you do not need God and do not seek him out.

And it is your Spirit, your very breath of life that you are poor in.  Try going a week, a month, several months, or a year without taking a breath.  You constantly need to breath.  You must replenish the oxygen in your body through breathing.  And that is exactly how God wants you to approach him, constantly in need, and always desiring replenishment.

God’s infinite riches are available, but only those who are in the greatest need, only those gasping for Spiritual Breath, those who are truly poor in Spirit, will be the ones to seek him out.  And they will find that theirs IS the Kingdom of Heaven.  Presently, and with great resources to supply all your needs.

Whether a winner or a loser in sports, or a winner or a loser in the Stock Market, or a winner or a loser in anything else in life, you cannot possess the Kingdom of Heaven unless you are poor in Spirit.

Win or lose in this life, in this world, in the present game, there is a greater gift to be gained, the gift of the Kingdom of Heaven.

So the question becomes, How is your spiritual wealth?  Because the wealth of your Spirit will determine your Kingdom health.  And that truly is the greatest riches of all.