Saturday, a chance to catch up on yard and house maintenance, at least until my body screams, “Enough.” Trying to remember the good times when I could work all day, I put some classic rock on Pandora and cranked up the outside speakers. Bob Dylan’s “Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door” soon brought back a Facebook discussion over the previous several days, ranging from do all people go to heaven, why or why not, can people change, forgiveness, and justice. Some deep issues done well with divergent views.
Since Unconventional exists to discuss what it means to follow Jesus, we can all benefit from making sure we’re on track, so that when we stand, knocking on heaven’s door, that door will open. So, some basics that touch the results of following Jesus.
First, all people go to heaven who want to go there. Honest. But, here’s the qualifier, and it’s a big one. Heaven is designed for those who want to know God through Jesus. So, the admission ticket is faith. Knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. Anyway, that’s what He says in John 3:18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
The good news—we don’t need to be good. That’s good, because we can’t be good enough. This amazes me—that God wants to know me. And you. And each of us. That’s what heaven is all about, and it would be cruel of God to force people into heaven that don’t want to know him. The cool news—belief at the end of our lives, if genuine, works. That’s what the thief on the cross learned, and what the movie God Isn’t Dead depicts dramatically.
That brings up an issue raised in the discussion. What about those who do evil? Big time evil? And who have a “jail house conversion” just before they die. Can they expect heaven’s door to open? If they’re genuine, yes. But here’s two qualifiers. First, they miss the very best of a life on earth lived with God. That’s huge.
But they also miss some rewards in heaven. Eternal rewards, I suspect. In I Corinthians 3:11-15, Paul talks about our need to build on the foundation of faith in Jesus. But, HOW we build on that yields serious long-term consequences. Build well with our lives, and we receive rewards. Build poorly (like those who only accept Christ at the end), and we get through the door, but “he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” Or, smoky coattails.
I like this concept; it blends God’s love and grace with his justice, his commitment that wrong does not go undealt with. It may escape justice on earth, but not in heaven.
Kick Starting the Discussion
What have you believed about all people getting into heaven? Have you changed any? How? Why? Do you have the desire for justice, like God has, like I do? What most amazes you that before he wants you to be good, he wants to know you? How will that impact your life?