If I were to answer this question from where I sit, not one single person that I know will get through the Pearly Gates of Heaven…except, perhaps, me. That is subjective. However, I want to be as biblical as is possible and look at some different statements made by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament books. This will take more than one ‘sitting’ to complete, but I cannot pinpoint as to how many ‘parts’ there will be, either. This is Part 1, The Words of Jesus.
Unless otherwise noted all Bible verses will come from the HCSB translation.
The Words of Jesus
“Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 “If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” John 14:5-8.
The standard that Jesus puts into place is ‘knowing Him.’ And that seems easy enough, but is it? This statement was made soon before He was to be crucified which was witnessed by 11 of the Twelve. Their knowledge of Jesus was quite personal, but how well did they really know Him? Better than most.
Jesus said these things to Satan in Matthew 4:1-11,
vs. 4, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
vs. 7, “Do not test the Lord your God.”
vs. 10, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”
Simply stated, Jesus intends for His people to be completely obedient to Him in service and in worship. Nothing or no human is to come between Him and those that follow Him.
Jesus’ Public Statements of Obedience
When Jesus began His public ministry Matthew wrote these words, “The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned.” 4:16.
Jesus’ message was clear and quite simple, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” Matthew 4:17.
In His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Jesus said these words, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20. How is one to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19. In other words, the scribes and Pharisees routinely lived apart from the Law of Moses, and Jesus expects those that follow Him to live according to the Law of Moses. What we who live under Grace do is live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. “As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:30-32.
It is obvious that Jesus expects those who choose to follow Him will live according to His Word at all times, obedience. It is not acceptable to live according to 2 sets of rules; yours and His. His teachings are to be adhered to, never to be altered to please life experiences, but according to His teachings in order to be life-changing.
Notice what John writes concerning the coming of Jesus into the world: “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ..” John 1:16-17. No doubt, Jesus’ presence on the earth introduces God’s grace in truth. It is interesting to note that John uses the word ‘grace’ 4 times in vv. 14,16 and 17, but never again in his narrative. And it is important to know that people, their souls are saved by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-10.)
One Must be Born Again
Jesus met with a Jewish leader named Nicodemus and the Lord said to him that he must be born again; first from his mother’s water and then from the spirit of God. Expanding on that Jesus said, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” John 3:16-18.
Many among us discount the idea that when a preacher uses the words, “You are going to Hell because…” a human judgment using the Word of God is being made. However, if one cares to read the Word of God, knowledge of His truth is gained and that knowledge reveals that those who live in denial of Jesus’ teachings reap eternal damnation. The judgment of God concerning eternal damnation has already been made.
However, when one is born again, there is renewal and there is change. Look at what Paul writes, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 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. 3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” Romans 12:1-3.
Who will go to Heaven? Those who are born again and are transformed by His grace.
More to come. Jesus is Lord.