WON’T ALL PEOPLE ULTIMATELY GO TO HEAVEN?
One of the more challenging aspects of pastoral ministry is comforting the bereaved. One commonality with all deaths is that each person will spend eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell. Chances are you have not attended many funeral services where the minister tells you the deceased is not in heaven. In our heads, we may believe in the reality of hell, but we dare not whisper or think anyone we know or love could be there. I do not intend to sound insensitive, but if Scripture is trustworthy — and it is — we must conclude there are people counted within our family or friends who never received Christ for salvation and are separated from Him and us for all eternity.
Maybe if someone refuses to acknowledge the fact that hell is real, they conclude they can comfort themselves with a sense of security. Sadly, that so-called security is both false and detrimental. God’s grace and forgiveness and a person’s faith in the finished work of Christ will always be the requirements for entrance into heaven. Not all will trust in Christ. Some will think the accumulation of good works or religion will be enough to secure their place in heaven. They will be mistaken. Thankfully, the words of Jesus can bring hope to all who will believe.
Most people will not go to Heaven. (13–14)
Following Jesus may not be an easy road, but it is the only road that will lead to heaven. Have you ever wondered why Jesus used the strong words “broad” and “destruction?” Jesus wanted to be clear that following Him meant a choice to sacrifice and surrender. For someone to go to hell, there are no requirements. People can simply live their lives and not change a thing, and they will live an eternity without Him. A saving belief in Jesus is an intentional decision that is evident by a rejection of the ways of the world, and most people refuse to do that.
Not all who claim to speak for God speak the truth. (15–20)
There are more false teachers in our world today than ever before. We can usually spot the heretics on television and know them by name. The prosperity gospel has been around for many years and will probably always be present. The false teachers Jesus is referring to in the context of this passage are those who do not believe in or teach the narrow way of salvation. False teachers thrive on popularity rather than doctrinal accuracy. The results are devastating.
Only those who trust and obey God will enter the kingdom of heaven. (21–23)
In these powerful verses, we do not see Jesus denying the supposed actions of those crying out to Him. The issue was not their deeds; it was their depravity. They focused on what they had done and not on the atonement of the cross.
Salvation is only possible when we place our faith in the finished work of the cross, not in our good deeds. Entering heaven has nothing to do with the height of your religion. It has everything to do with your relationship with Jesus. That relationship can begin for anyone today who is willing to hear and obey the call of salvation. When it comes time for your funeral, can you leave no doubt that you are in the presence of God?
By Bobby McKay
Pastor of New Liberty Baptist Church in Morton, Mississippi