What’s the admission ticket to heaven? Do all get one, or just a select few? How do you obtain one of these, if you so desire? What if you don’t desire heaven as a destination? That issue has thrust itself into the conversation, with books like Rob Bell’s Love Wins, and a recent article on universalism by Ron Corson, posted by a friend (you can read it here: http://atoday.org/universalism.html).
Bell and Corson and others suggest that in the end, all go to heaven. This short page can’t examine that issue in depth, but I do want to explore a foundational issue that we need to grasp before we reach a conclusion. Following Jesus, or getting into heaven, must be based on what he said about the issue. Just below is a paragraph from Corson, then I’ll respond.
“Has it ever bothered you when you think about the idea that God grants salvation based on what someone knows or believes? What of those who have no way of knowing what seems to be the important part of attaining this salvation, due to mental capacity or cultural relevance or simply how a person was or was not raised? There are simply too many factors in play to accept the idea that God grants salvation based merely upon what someone believes” (Ron Corson).
Corson’s premise is wrong. Salvation is not granted based on what we believe, but who we know. Specifically, do we know God, do we have a relationship with him, through Jesus? That’s the ticket. Ironically, Jesus agrees with Corson that what we believe, or even do, matters little.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23). Beyond mere belief, these worked for Jesus, in his name. But, Jesus never knew them.
Go back further, to the statement that Jews prayed every day: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Love. That’s relationship, not believing facts.
One more. We can pretty much equate heaven with eternal life, so what did Jesus say was the essence of eternal life in heaven? “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Again, relationship, not believing information.
Corson’s argument fails due to a faulty premise. Now, what about us? Unconventional isn’t a theological marketplace of ideas for the sake of ideas, but a marketplace of ideas that enable us to get closer to Jesus. So, here’s my take. Our spiritual path, and the path we encourage others to join us on, isn’t essentially intellectual knowledge. Yes, we need it. I lean to the rational side myself. But our knowledge is to help us reach the goal of a closer connection to God.
If I accepted Corson’s premise, I might be more willing to consider his conclusion. But Jesus didn’t come to give us information to believe, but to give us the ability to know God. More deeply as we walk with him.
Kick Starting the Application
To what extent have you believed that what you believe determines if you’re a genuine follower or not? Have Corson’s article or this post influenced you on this? What most keeps you from knowing Jesus more deeply? Is that more important than connecting with the Creator of the universe? And, take some time to ponder the implication of what Jesus said in John 17:3.