Hope of Heaven

Matthew 7:21. “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.”

I was chatting with a a fellow yesterday, a person I had just met for the first time, and I was asking him, “what does it take to get to Heaven?” “Who qualifies to enter there?” His response was “everyone goes to heaven, that’s why Jesus died, so everyone can go.”

This idea of everyone going to Heaven is a noble thought and I’ve heard this response on a number of occasions while attempting to share the gospel with people, but is it true? Could everyone enter into the presence of a Holy God, regardless of how they lived their lives or who they lived for?

If they could enter Heaven freely, that would mean no matter what you did in life, whether you believed in God or not, or how much evil was in your life, you qualified. This idea lends itself to much concern. The idea of everyone qualifying would mean Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Kim, Mao, and every genocidal maniac in history will be free from the consequence of evil they perpetrated on others. Matter of fact, the very idea that something was wrong or evil would be negated, as well as good. There would essentially be no eternal consequences for anything you’ve ever done, only that which society has brought upon you while you were still alive. You may go to prison for a crime or receive praise and adoration from others for doing something nice, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter at all.

When I hear an answer that just seems to conflict with biblical reason or even general logic for that matter, I find myself questioning how much thought a person has placed in the notion of an afterlife. The average lifespan of an adult male in the U.S.A., is 76 years, for women a little longer, I think it’s around 80. If you don’t get some horrible cancer, hit by a car, deadly virus, heart disease, or a myriad of other things that can end your life, you may even live a little longer.

After this brief time on earth, you are then faced with the consequences of the decisions you made on earth, particularly what you did and why you did it.

According to God’s Word, you have two possible destinations, Hell, which is eternal torment, darkness, fire, worms, chains, hopelessness, and lots of screaming and wailing. The other is Heaven, a place only mentioned in part, with streets of pure gold, gates made of pearl, precious stones, clear rivers, trees of life, fruit trees, healing, where God’s light illuminates it all and the throne of God is in the midst of it.

A focus on Heaven can be a bit short sighted if one doesn’t read the end of the story. In Revelation 21:1 “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.”

What we know, is that heaven as we have come to refer to it, will actually pass away, as well as this earth. That’s really bad news to everyone who worships “Mother Earth”, since she can’t preserve herself, she certainly won’t be able to preserve her followers. It seems that this knowledge alone would remind us that, though we are to be good stewards of the earth, we should remember that it is only temporary and so when we see these pattens of climate change or extinction of a species, this isn’t an apocalyptic pattern of hopelessness and fear but that our hope rests somewhere else, a place that will all be made new.

Who qualifies for Heaven?

John 6:40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Matthew 7:21 “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.”

2 Corinthians 5:5 “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

I’ve included these three references to remind you that the Triune manifestation of God is key in every life saved by His grace. The Father’s will was to send His Son to die for the sins of the world. Jesus, God’s Son, then sent us His Spirit to fill our hearts, sanctify, purify and seal us for eternity with Him. Every aspect of the Trinity is manifest in calling, saving, and sanctifying those who respond to His call.

So to answer the question, “who qualifies?”, the answer is initially…no one. We all have sinned and fall short. The good news is that Jesus was qualified and gave Himself for us. He has purchased our redemption price, redeeming us from sin and death and has imparted His grace to all who confess and believe. This offer of grace is extended to all, unfortunately few will heed and accept the call.

Matthew 22:14For many are called, but few are chosen”

Who will be in Heaven?

1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”

Zechariah 14:5bThus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with You.

Isaiah 6:1-3 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; and the train of His robea filled the temple. 2Above Him stood seraphim, each having six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling out to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts; all the earth is full of His glory.”

Luke 23:43And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Colossians 3:1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”

Matthew 24:36 ““But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

So, a quick survey of scripture details to us that as of now, The Father is on His throne and Jesus is seated next to Him, while all of the saints, (those saved by grace), are there in His presence along with the angels. When our bodies perish, our spirit’s either ascend into Heaven above or Hell below.

When Jesus returns with His people, we will all receive new bodies and will reign with Him forever.

2 Corinthians 5:1-2For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven”

What will the new Heaven and Earth be like?

Well, for one, the City of God or also known as “the New Jerusalem”, will descend upon the earth and will be as glorious in stature as well as in beauty. The dimensions of this city will be 1400 miles cubed! Revelation 21:16. That is equivalent to the distance from New York City to Tallahassee, Florida. This size is reflective in length, width and height! Imagine how many people could dwell in such a city. Imagine being in the fullness of God’s glory.

Psalm 87:3Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God!

More good news….

Revelation 21:2-4 “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

The former things have PASSED AWAY!

As crazy as this world has become, as much evil as we have seen or have experienced, as many stories of violence and inhumanity, death, disease, sadness, fear, addiction, trauma, depression…it’s all going to pass away.

Let that sink in…

All we know and see will be gone, and you know what will be here? It will all be new!

Revelation 21:57 “Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Who is it that overcomes? 1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.

*Faith in Christ alone qualifies you for this future glory.

Do you know who won’t be there?

Revelation 21:8But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

These are those who are under the curse and have continued to choose their own way. They will realize the fullness of their offenses against God’s glory, for rejecting the Son and blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him

The Kingdom of God has begun now, in the hearts of every true believer. If you want to be in this Kingdom, there is only one door.

John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

God’s people will bear His mark!

Revelation 22:4-5They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”

The Lord will return, the signs are everywhere, He promises that when He does, it will be like a thief coming in the night.

Revelation 22:12 And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

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