CAN WE KNOW WE’LL GO TO HEAVEN?

Are you going to Heaven when you die? Polls show most people believe there is a Heaven and they’re on their way. Why? Because, they say, basically they are “good” people. But what does the Bible say about that? Pastor and author Author Randy Alcorn in a new tract explains that Heaven isn’t our “default destination” and that important changes must be made in our lives if we are to spend eternity with the Lord in His rest.

Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV): “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

2 Peter 2:9 (CEV): “This shows that the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their sufferings and to punish evil people while they wait for the day of judgment.”

Revelation 22:17 (ESV): “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

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MISSING THE TRAIN TO HEAVEN

RECENTLY, I WAS DRIVING one of our church elders to Sunday morning services. He turned to me, his thumb and index finger nearly touching, and said words that still ring in my ears: “Ward, I came this close to spending eternity in Hell.”

HELL. HELL

What a terrifying thought. An eternity of darkness, aloneness. Fire. Worms. Without hope. Without love. Without end. It’ll be hellish. Really.

Yet, a recent poll showed that for every American who believes he or she is going to Hell, 120 believe they are going to Heaven. 

The Bible tells an entirely different story. It says a person must believe in Jesus Christ to enter Heaven. (A different standard applies to those who have not heard of Him.)

Unfortunately, that means that most of the self-described Heaven-bound are wrong.

In fact, the optimism expressed by most Americans, even those who do not profess to be Christian, stands in stark contrast to Jesus Christ’s own words: 

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV).

According to the Bible, most people are not going to Heaven.

They’re going to Hell.

THREE SCENES

IMAGINE THIS:

  • IT’S WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON — You’re at the grave site of a good friend who has BURIAL_SCENEsuccumbed to cancer. You cast your gaze to his survivors and notice his widow and daughter clutching each other through tears. You share their grief. You don’t know where your friend will end up, but you suspect from the way he lived and talked that God, salvation, and repentance were far from his mind. You’re terrified for him.
  • IT’S FRIDAY EVENING — You’re at a high school football game, and the home team is marching down the field toward the end zone. You look around at the stands. You know by sight most of the onlookers. They’re your neighbors and friends. On this Friday night, there’s not a single thought among them about  their eternal destiny. You don’t know where they’ll end up, but you suspect that, come Sunday morning, eternity will not be on their minds, either. You’re terrified for them.
  • IT’S SUNDAY MORNING — You’re at church, and the pastor is wrapping up his weekly altar call, and you look around the congregation. Nobody moves. They must all be saved! Well, maybe so. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! You don’t know their status, but you suspect that most of them think they’re saved or at least don’t need what the pastor is preaching. You’re terrified for them.

How do you handle the horrible thought that most of the people you meet and talk with each week — most of the people you know and most of the people you don’t know — are not on God’s saved list? Their names are not found in His Book of Life. HS_FOOTBALL

What do you do when you consider they have no clue what they’re missing?

DEFAULT DESTINATION

THE TRUTH IS, according to the Bible, we don’t automatically go to Heaven. 

In fact, our default destination is not Heaven — but Hell. Unless our sin problem is solved, we can’t enter Heaven. 

That’s the bad news.

Aahh, but there’s good news, too. In fact, it’s so good, it’s called “Good News”! 

Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, came to our rescue. At the Cross, He took on the Hell we deserve … so that, believing in Him, we can experience for eternity the Heaven we don’t deserve.

TWO DESTINATIONS

THERE ARE ONLY TWO possible destinations when we die: Heaven or Hell.

Can we really know in advance which one we’ll go to? Yes, we can.

The apostle John, one of the writers of the Bible, said this: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 ESV). image-17

How do we know? 

  • The Bible tells us that all of us, like our first parents, Adam and Eve, are sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV).
  • Because of our sin, the Bible says, our default destination is Hell. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NASB).
  • Our sinful hearts make it difficult for us to chart a correct course on our own power. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12 ESV).

GOD’S PLAN

BUT GOD PROVIDED an escape clause. A way out. A get-out-of-jail-free card. 

Simply believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He came to die for sinful man, and that those who believe this … and call on His name … will be saved  from God’s wrath (Rom. 10:9-10, 13). image-2

When Christ died on the Cross for us, he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). 

In those days “It is finished” was commonly written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. It meant “Paid in full.” Christ died so that the certificate of debt consisting of all our sins could once and for all be marked “Paid in full.”

What about those who don’t believe?

Jesus said that unless we believe He is the One who redeems mankind, we will die in our sins (John 8:24). 

REPENT OF SIN

ONLY WHEN OUR SINS are dealt with in Christ can we enter Heaven.

We cannot pay our own way, and contrary to popular opinion, there is only one way to get there.

  • Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV). Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross on our behalf, God freely offers us forgiveness: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 CSB). 
  • To be forgiven, we must recognize and repent of our sins. Forgiveness is not automatic. It’s conditioned upon confession: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV). 
  • Christ offers to everyone the gifts of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. Jesus died on the Cross as the only One worthy to pay the penalty for our sins demanded by the holiness of God: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).
  • There’s no righteous deed we can do that will earn us a place in Heaven (Titus 3:5). We come to Christ empty-handed. We can take no credit for salvation. It is a gift from God: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9 NET). 

This gift cannot be worked for, earned, or achieved. It’s dependent solely on Christ’s generous sacrifice on our behalf.

CRITICAL DECISION

THIS IS THE MOST important decision of your life.

Far more important than who you’ll marry, or what career you’ll follow, or how many children you’ll have; more important than your next car or the house you buy or your dream vacation plans.

More important than anything else you can think of. 

It’s the decision of where you’ll spend eternity.image-26

Eternity is forever. Once it starts, there’s no turning back. No do-over. No second chance. No course correction. 

Now is the time to make things right with God:

  • Confess your sinfulness;
  • Accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf.

If you haven’t come to terms with your relationship with God, please pay special attention to the words that follow. Author and Pastor Randy Alcorn sums it this way:

“You are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person, and heaven is the place. They are a package — they come together. You cannot get heaven without Jesus or Jesus without heaven. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near’ (Isaiah 55:6 ESV). For all eternity, you’ll be glad you did.”

[For more information on how Heaven isn’t our “default destination,” please see pastor and author Randy Alcorn‘s tract, “How Can We Know We’ll Go to Heaven?”]

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SAVING PRAYER

Here’s a prayer you can use if you want to confess your sins to God and receive His gift of eternal life … or substitute your own words, spoken from the heart.
May God bless you richly as you do.

O GOD, YOU KNOW ME, but I haven’t known You. I’ve come to realize I am a sinful man (woman), and I need a Savior. O God, thank You for the gift that Jesus Christ gave me when He took my sins to the Cross. I am sorry for my sin, and I repent of my sinful ways. O God, please send Your Holy Spirit into my heart to change me and redeem me and make me Yours for all eternity. I want to live for You and with You. In Jesus’ name I lift this prayer, knowing You will hear my plea. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness and Your gift of life. AMEN

BEWARE OF THOSE WHO PREACH ‘INCLUSION’ BUT EXCLUDE JESUS

Regardless of whether you call it Orwellian, Alice-in-Wonderland, or the Last Days, the modern era is overrun by double-speak, where one term means its opposite, and if you don’t understand that or accept it, then you’re part of the problem and need to shut up. You’re not wanted. This is particularly challenging for believing Christians, who are under mandate from our Savior to speak boldly for the truth.

Isaiah 5:20 (NKJV): “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV): “For the time is coming when people will not  endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Rom. 12:2 (CSB): “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

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EXCLUDING CHRISTIANS TO BE “INCLUSIVE”

THE HEADLINE SCREAMED the righteous indignation of actress Melissa McCarthy, who loudly proclaimed she was withdrawing financial “support” from an anti-trafficking group, Exodus Cry, that is a faith-based Christian organization.

The reason?SEXUAL_TRAFFICKING

The organization, which rescues girls and women from sexual exploitation, is founded by, and operates on, principles gleaned from God’s Holy Word. 

Specifically in relation to sexual practice, the group not only opposes the exploitation and forced prostitution of females, but it also, in keeping with God’s Word, opposes abortion and LGBTQ “rights.”

The actress is staring in a new movie, “Superintelligence,” to be released Thanksgiving Day. As part of the pre-release promotion, McCarthy launched “20 Days of Kindness” to support 20 charities, among them Exodus Cry and Planned Parenthood.

A Nov. 16, 2020, article in ChurchLeaders.com, said the actress pulled the funding once she found out from social media that the organization is “hostile” to gay rights and abortion procedures.

FAVORING WORLDLY VALUES

IN A PUBLIC STATEMENT explaining her action, McCarthy said the Christian organization “stands for everything that we do not.”
Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy

She further said she wanted to “thank everyone” on social  media who asked, “‘What are you doing? Are you sure you want to back this?’ Because the answer is, ‘No, we do not.’”

Her final comment was, “Thanks for helping us correct a big mistake.”

A big mistake? Really?

What is going on here? Isn’t this a case of calling what’s “up” “down” and what’s “good” “bad”?

Yes, that’s what it is.

It’s the very thing the prophet Isaiah warned us of 2,700 years ago: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)

OPPOSING GODLY VALUES

UNFORTUNATELY, THIS has become a commonplace story. 

The apostle Paul issued this warning 2,000 years ago: “Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)

The Dec. 18, 2018, Washington Examiner ran an article from Syracuse, N.Y., saying New York state officials told an adoption agency, New Hope Family Services, to close its doors unless it violated its religious beliefs to place children only in homes with a married mother and father.

In fact, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services congratulated New Hope for “a number of strengths in providing adoption services within the community.”OIP.mQPtvzMH5-XFwQJ_1w4hJAHaE8

The organization has placed more than 1,000 adoptions throughout the state between 1965, when it opened, to 2018, when the article ran. Since then, according to its website, it has expanded its adoption services to include a full-range of pregnancy counseling, excluding performing or referring for abortions.

TRANSFORMING BUSINESSES

THE GRAPHIC DESIGN Circles Conference in Texas announced in 2019 that it was cancelling a church leader from its list of speakers after a member group complained he might make others feel unsafe.

David Roark, the communications and resources director for The Village Church, a megachurch based in Flower Mound, Texas, was uninvited from the September conference after the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) refused to participate because of his inclusion. 67.Conference_Lecture

AIGA claimed that The Village Church “does not meet our standards of inclusion because of openly discriminatory policies and practices towards women and the LGBTQ+ community.” The Circles Conference agreed with the group and scrubbed Mr. Roark’s profile from their website.

In a statement announcing the change, Conference founder Ismael Burciaga said, “When you walk through the doors of Circles Conference, we want you to feel welcome.” 

The statement concluded by noting the conference’s continued commitment to “assemble a diverse, inclusive, and innovative lineup of speakers.”

Paul referenced this very thing in an apostolic letter to his disciple, Timothy: “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching … and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

POSTSCRIPT

IN ALL OF THESE examples, and the many more that could be assembled, one maxim stands out: 

In the name of “diversity and inclusion,” the buzzwords of the modern secular era, conservative thinkers — especially those who are Christian faith-based — need not apply.

There’s a very significant reason why. 

The Christian believer holds God’s Truth to be an absolute, which makes His Word both eternal and universal. His Word was good yesterday and today, and it will be good tomorrow. 

Plus, it is good and right for everyone, not just one person. The Christian faith is not about “You do you, bro.”

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The “modern” thinker, who is drawn by the wisdom of his own observation and reasoning, will not allow for absolutes, because, for the non-believer, they don’t exist.

While various modern groups can differ in their beliefs, they can align around the shared value that all truths are relative and personal. 

The strongest exception comes from the Christian believer, who holds onto a set of values that does not allow for compromise or dissent.

As the Lord proclaimed in John 17:17 (NASB2020):

YOUR WORD IS TRUTH.

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PRAYER

O LORD, OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, sometimes, we just feel so overwhelmed with the task of carrying the Gospel to a broken, unbelieving, cynical world; yet, when we place our trust in You, we labor not with our strength and wisdom but with Yours. We pray for grace and mercy as Your Spirit prepares us for the good work to be done on behalf of the Kingdom, not for our glory, O Lord, but for Yours. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. AMEN