Does everyone go to heaven?
A survey in The Guardian newspaper found that 73% of people believe in a heaven - and that 64% of those same people believe they will go there
By comparison, 71% believe in Hell .... but only 1% of people think they will go there!
It was the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who said ‘hell is other people’. Perhaps today most people believe hell is forother people? Just not themselves...
But if there is a heaven – and the bible certainly says that there is – what is it? What’s it like? And who will ultimately end up there? The common view today is that anyone and everyone will go to heaven. No matter who they are, what they do, or who are what they believe in.
But is that belief true? According to the bible, the answer is ‘no’
Let’s start with Luke 13:23-24. Someone asked Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” Jesus responded, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to
Jesus expands on this same idea in Matthew 7, where he says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.
So how would we make sure we are on this ‘narrow path’?
Is being ‘religious’?
Is ‘going to church’?
Is it being baptised?
Is it being a good person?
I know an awful lot of people thinks that all it takes is being a good person. Some think that showing up at a church helps, at Christmas or for the odd christening or funeral. Maybe throwing a couple of quid in the plate to get a few extra brownie points?
Yeah, they think most everyone will make it to heaven.Except the people we don’t like – of course!
Because whilst we all want to think that all the people we like, all of our friends and family, all the good people. But not those bad people. Not those murderers, or paedophiles or evil people on the news!
And definitely not that guy next door who parks his car across my driveway...
So most of us don’t actually think EVERYONE goes to heaven. Just the people that we think should go to heaven. Can you see the problem with that view? If WE decide then we are setting up US as judge and jury And really the only person who can decide is God Himself
So what can we know about ‘getting to heaven’? One thing we know for sure is this God is merciful and just and desires that all be saved. 1 Timothy 2.4 says God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth
But hang on – aren’t we contradicting ourselves here? If God wants everyone to be saved, to go to heaven – then why doesn’t he just throw open the gates of heaven and invite everyone in?
Well, if you think about it, if he did that we wouldn’t actually be free. We’d all be forced to go to heaven even if we don’t want to – and he’s given us free will
So what he’s’ done is give everyone on the planet, everyone man, woman and child. Everyone ... the capability and the opportunity and the means to go to heaven. Sadly, not everyone will accept it – but that is our choice. It comes with the territory of being free, independent, conscious, thinking human beings
So how do we ensure that we will go to heaven when we die? Let’s continue in 1 Timothy 2 God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, that there is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us.
Let’s break that down a bit. And make it as simple as A-B-C...
A = ADMIT
It is tough to admit that we are wrong. Even before God, we feel we are basically good And we would like to think we are not really as bad as some other people
The truth is we are all sinners and can never be good enough to earn our way to heaven. The Bible, clearly states that ALL have sinned - done things that are wrong and against God. This is the nub of why God can’t just throw open the doors of heaven.
Because in truth not one of us deserve to be heaven by our own merits, our own goodness. And salvation starts by admitting that reality.
If we’ve all sinned and none of us our good enough – then how can any go to heaven?
There’s loads of stories in the bible to that address that question, but let’s focus on one - in Acts 16. We read about how St Paul and his companions were miraculously rescued from prison. On seeing this, the jailer - sensing the reality and power of God – asked “What must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved! This is also true for everyone who lives in your home.”
There’s nothing complicated about salvation – although the church has a habit of making it hard. Time and again the bible tells us that we need to place our faith, our belief, in Jesus Christ
Once we have come to that point of believing in Jesus the final step is to confess that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour. And by ‘confess’, we mean publicly! The bible doesn’t seem to have those people that you meet who say ‘I’m a Christian, but it’s something private. And I don’t like to talk about it’
Listen to how Romans 10 puts it: You will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and confess it to others.
What a Saviour! And He has salvation enough for ALL, every last one of us
So, the way to heaven is clear, open, freely available and accessible for each of us. The question is: Will we take it?