Saturday, February 20, 2010

Who Gets to Go to Heaven?

Who do you think gets to go the Heaven? Tiger Woods, George Bush, Mother Theresa, Adolf Hitler, Billy Graham, President Obama, The Pope, Benny Hinn, Joseph Smith, Buddha - who? If you are like most folks, you are thinking, "that one, "nope, not that one," or "Hitler; definitely not." There are others that will say, "We just don't know, we can't be the judge. God alone is the judge." Now that's playing it safe.

So, who gets to go to Heaven when they die? And more importantly, how do you get there?

If you read yesterday's blog entitled, Have You Wondered Why Man Can't Fly and the Church Can't Get Along?, then you know that there are many opinions - and a lot of myths about the Christian religion.

Most Christians would say the Bible is the 411 on the "Who Goes to Heaven" game. And for sure, there are other thoughts on the afterlife. Billions of folks claim to be Christians, we've discussed that before. For those that are atheists, we have previously discussed that too. For those that just want to believe in god, any god, I have addressed that as well HERE.

Today's blog is addressed at those that want to go Heaven. It is not a debate, but a discussion.

As we discussed yesterday, there are many views as to how to worship God as a Christian, but few disagreements as to what the "central truth" of the Bible is. The Bible contains the Jewish Torah; the Law and the Prophets, as well as the Gospel Accounts of Jesus, the Book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit, the Revelation of John, and the Epistles of Paul. There are 66 books in what is called the biblical canon.

It took a few hundred years for this collection of writings to be "approved." And yes, there are some other books that were written, but like most church folks, they could not agree on them. The reason, they were not used is that they were NOT consistent with the "central truth." Their inclusion would have caused wide spread contradictions to the 66 collected books.

I know, it all sounds a lot like "chance," so how could it be God? First, take a look at the "central truth" which is called the Nicene Creed. If we can't agree on this, then we are not Christians. Whoa, brother David! Look, you can't be a Christian because you decided to be one, you can't be a Christians because your parents were, or because you were baptized, or because you attend church, joined a church, or signed a commitment card or think that you are a good person because you didn't commit a sin that someone else did. You, can't. That would mean that Christianity is a philosophy subject to the whims of man, changing culture and intellectual pursuit. It's not.

The difference between all other religions is NOT that Jesus said: "I am the truth the way and the light, and no one comes to the Father but by me." It is the simple fact that Jesus rose from the dead to prove his promise to you and to me as a sacrifice for your sins.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity again, becomes a lie, not a religion. Think about it. How stupid would billions of folks feel to get to the end, and find out Jesus was not there? Heaven then becomes an eternal paradise without love, light, or the promised lack of pain and sickness in which we live as floating souls. That does not sound appealing, now does it?

For the record, the historical Jesus was written about in both the Bible, and by Jewish historians; most notably Josephus. Only agenda driven; narrow-minded intellectuals will say that Jesus did not exist, and that He did not rise from the the dead. Why? According to the Pharisees and the Scribes, the lawyers of Israel, everything was to be recoded with the utmost accuracy. That is one reason why the Old Testament Scriptures have little, or no meaningful discrepancies, in nearly 6,000 years! Furthermore; it was a Jewish law that everything legally be established by 2 or more witnesses. HERE is the account of everything that happened to Jesus pertaining to the central truth, as prescribed by the laws of Israel.

For those that think that the Bible is filled with mistakes, send them to me. I'd be glad to take a look.

For the moment, I am going to assume that we can glean something meaningful from the Bible - namely how to get to heaven. Good evangelicals will use some "tools" like the 4 Spiritual Laws or Romans Road to convince sinners to repent. They both contain excellent truth - but seriously, unless you are convinced that you to are a sinner, it is just more Bible talk.

If a heavenly afterlife is the benefit of some moral merit, then what is the criteria? As humans we tend to focus on others behavior. I am sure you can think of one person right away that does more bad stuff than you. Name the act: smoking, drinking to excess, promiscuity, cheating, stealing, pornography, abortion, murder, speeding, lying and the list goes on and on. Who makes these rules anyway? If you don't believe the Bible, how do you know it's wrong? Just because you detest lying, doesn't mean that it bothers me to cheat on my income tax.

So, what about heaven? Here is what I think - ain't that why you read this blog? I think Heaven of like going to the gym. We go to the gym to get exercise because we know it's good for us; that's the reason. One of the benefits of membership is losing weight, meeting others, and some casual talk as we wipe our ugly germs of the hand-grips for the next person.

Profound don't you think? Some of us that go to the gym are in near perfect shape, and others, like me, are more than a few pounds overweight. The facts are like this: all of us are going to die, all of us have germs, and most of us would like to think that the afterlife is going to better than this. HERE is more on Hell in case you are worried about that.

The real question is this? Do you need some spiritual exercise, are you happy with your life, do you feel a real purpose to your being, are you guilt free, not having any cares in the world? If you can close your eyes and sit quietly for 5 whole minutes, try telling yourself that you've never done anything deserving punishment. But please, don't tell yourself that there is someone else worse than you - I'm sure you don't hold a candle to Hitler - or Mother Theresa for that matter. Just remember, even she needed a savior. Can you sit there and be certain that you are going to Heaven? Can you sit there and tell yourself you are free of guilt?

Where are you going, and do you know for sure? Tell me about it.

14 comments:

Tevet said...

"As humans we tend to focus on others behavior."
EXACTLY THE PROBLEM!
Some people are so worried about what others are doing or not doing that they wind up never doing the work of God.

Sheep or Goat, Written or Blotted, Alive or Dead. Eternal life comes down to ONE decision-ONE action. (Romans 10.9)
I know I have done the work of God (John 6.29) and those around me know that I have done it as well. (1 Tim 6.12)

photogr said...

David:

It is hard to say who gets into heaven. I would like to think I would but I am not so sure. There are so many areas that I do not feel worthy to be accepted. I will have to leave it up to the Lord. Hopefully I can get a baggage ticket to squeak by on with that flight to heaven.I would be most appreciative for that.

Most self professed Christians think they will get first class tickets to heaven dispite their actions or lack of here on earth.

I am led to think that Heaven is a multi layered entity based on your service and labor for Him. The martyrs, apsotles, angels, and preist appointed by Him at the higher levels and the list filters down based on you service to Him here on earth.

Of course all will bask in the eternal life giving waters and light that eminates from the Lord.

Your words of wisdom and knowledge far exceeds that of a mortal human. Your words do truly come directly from the Lord.

Anonymous said...

In answer to your query, "Who gets to go to heaven?" ONLY those who follow TORAH as defined by the now modern Orthodox Jews, will go to heaven. The Messiah that you follow in Christianity is a made up Roman religion that used some core teachings from a very popular Ribi (NOT Rabbi: for more info please see this site and check ALL the sources given: www.netzarim.co.il) The missing years in Christian history are SOOO important. Your true salvation rides on what the truth is. No demi-gods allowed!
JeanH

photogr said...

Anonymous:

Interesting but I find some random inacuracies as I scan through your link.

David said...

@Jean H - thanks for sharing your views. I checked out the site. I have enough knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures to know the following:

-1 The Messiah was here to save all mankind - not just the Jews.
-2 He was to set the captives free.
-3 And that Jesus fulfills at least 20 or so of the Old Testament prophecies.
-4 All the important facets of the life of Jesus the Messiah were recorded legally and according to Old Testament law.

The Gospel accounts further point to the lies that were going to be told about Jesus.

One can call upon the name of Jesus for healing and other supernatural events. We do not need to debate theology.

In the end, one is judged by what is written in his heart, not by what religious building he attends once a week.

Tony C said...

JeanH- I'm not sure what years you refer to as missing. There are over 12,000 manuscripts dating from the earliest movements of Christianity starting with the Letters of Paul around 45 A.D.

The New Testament alone has over 5000 supporting Greek manuscripts existing today with another 20,000 manuscripts in other languages. Some of the manuscript evidence dates to within 100 years of the original writing. There is less than a 1% textual variation in the NT manuscripts.

That's a pretty solid paper trail. As a matter of fact, no other historically documented event comes even close to the stacks of supporting documents for Christianity. You may question if Jesus was the Son of God because you are given that choice by our Creator. But, you cannot question that Jesus lived and conducted His ministry...unless you want to blatantly ignore documented history. If that's the case, you can make up whatever you want and call it fact...just like L. Ron Hubbard.

Anonymous said...

An interesting essay this day.

"Who do you think goes to heaven?"
Well, my list would include:
Abel, son of Adam and Eve
Moses
the Prophet Mohammed
the Dali Lama
Nelson Mandala

Adam and Eve committed the first mortal sin, but Abel was a servant of the Lord who was martyred in his service. Heaven or Hell?

For that matter, where did EVERYONE who preceded Abram go after death?

- aw, not a moose

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, looks like the discussion has timed out. OK, here's who I ask whom should be Heaven bound.

"Who do you think goes to heaven?"
Well, my list would include:
Abel, son of Adam and Eve
Moses
the Prophet Mohammed
the Dali Lama
Nelson Mandala"

In the classical American Christianity I learned, the only way to go to Heaven was through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Abel did good works, and represents all pre-Abraham people. I can see why Adam and Eve would go to Hell, but what was the fate of Abel and all pre-Abrahamic people who neither were chosen people nor heard the Revelation of Jesus Christ? Heaven or Hell?

Moses is very clearly one of the Chosen People, and the last mortal to see God in the YHWH aspect. The New Testaments clearly document that thousands met God in his mortal aspect of Rabbi Yeshuah, more familiarly known by his Greek nomenclature as Jesus Christ. Moses in this case is a standin for all Jews before Rabbi Yeshuah came, taught, was martyred, and returned to life to save all mankind. Did pre-Jesus Jews go to Heaven?

- An odious

Anonymous said...

"Who do you think goes to heaven?"
Well, my list would include:
Abel, son of Adam and Eve
Moses
the Prophet Mohammed
the Dali Lama
Nelson Mandala"

To continue, the Prophet Mohammed was witnessed to bodily ascend to Heaven, which is documented in the Holy Book, the Koran. Now, it's pretty clear that there's a lot of dispute and bad blood between the Abramic religions: neither the Jews nor the Christians nor the Muslims have a good track record of getting along. Regardless, the New Testament documents that our Lord Jesus Christ died, and was witnessed as returning to life. The Koran also documents that the Prophet Mohammed died but was physically transported to Heaven. So, Mohammed: in Heaven or not?

- A nominal Ouse

Anonymous said...

"Who do you think goes to heaven?"
Well, my list would include:
Abel, son of Adam and Eve
Moses
the Prophet Mohammed
the Dali Lama
Nelson Mandala"

Lastly, let us consider the Dali Lama and Nelson Mandala. I have personally met the Dali Lama, and I have been to Nelson Mandala's prison cell on Robbin Island. Both the Dali Lama and Nelson Mandala are publically celebrated for turning away from violence and using more pacific and persuasive means to achieve their ends. The Dali Lama, alas, is going to end up as a series of colorful bumber stickers. Nelson Mandala actually really and truly actually transformed the Republic of South Africa into a representational and functional society, in large part because he gave up on violence and strongly advocated the same from his followers.

Both the Dali Lama and Nelson Mandala were aware that Our Lord Jesus Christ martyred Himself to save all mankind. And yet, both are not Christians. Heaven?

- A not a moose

David said...

@A-non-o-Moose - Lots of good comments and questions.

Salvation is very specifically reserved, according to the Bible, for those that pass the requirements listed below.

Romans 2:14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

That being said, Moses specifically is listed:

Hebrews 3:2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house.

Abel is also listed:

Genesis 4:4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel.

The prophet Elijah was taken up into Heaven, a cool way to go, but not making him god, or anything like it:

2 Kings 2:1 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

If he was actually taken up, then I'd say he was there. I don't know. The Koran is not considered an authentic book - therefore, I don't know. What's written in his heart is the key.

The same is true of the Dali Lama and Nelson Mandela. It is not by works, it is by faith (if the seal is on the heart.) Non-violence, although an admirable trait, is not a requirement for Heaven. Again, we look at the heart. The problem is that even godless folks can do the right thing for the wrong reason.

And lastly, some of your questions:

"For that matter, where did EVERYONE who preceded Abram go after death?"

"Did pre-Jesus Jews go to Heaven?"

Christ birth was not the time that Christ existed. He has always existed, because He is God the Son; He just did not have a flesh and blood body prior to His birth.

He is however; the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Rev 13:8). So before His birth, God credited Christ death as an "I owe you." Before Christ came to the earth, God promised all people that one day He will pay for their debt, and so he counted their debts paid even before Christ died.

There is a place called Sheol that is described in the Old Testament, a site at the greatest possible distance from heaven. Be it doesn't not say what the specific requirements are. I am assuming the law.

I have another take as well. When Jesus died, the ground shook and many people that were DEAD, walked about the city. So, I wonder if these folks somehow went to "sleep" which is a term used in the Greek of the New Testament.

Great questions - keep seeking. Hopefully some experts can weigh in.

Anonymous said...

A well thought out response!
I think that this kind of summarizes the score for my list.

Abel - Heaven, because he obeyed the Lord;
pre-Abram people - Heaven or Sheol, depending on how they obeyed the Lord.

Moses - Heaven, yep.

non-Jews post Abram - technically, while the Jews were favored as the Chosen people, I don't think that non-Jews were neccessarily condemned. They just didn't have the direct backing of YHWH. So for these folk (including the classic Greek and Roman scholars, Socrates, Plato, Epicurus, Pliney, etc), it's not clear. Debating their fate was certainly a popular monastic pasttime in the Medieval days.

the Prophet Mohammed - possibly Heaven, but you have to accept the accuracy of the Koran, on which my knowledge is minimal.

the Dali Lama and Nelson Mandala (and Tiger Woods, for that matter) - it's Hell, sorry lads. Good works are not enough. On the bright side, they still have time to repent!

- Anonymous

Tevet said...

It doesn't matter who is on my list. It only matters whose name is on God's list.

eaglegirl said...

Well, I don't know about all you guys but I know that I get to go to Heaven.
Not because of anything special I have or have not done in my life, except for one thing : I became born again about 35 yrs ago. Yea, Yea I know people don't like to say the words 'born again' much anymore.
But Jesus told the rich young ruler in John 3 that he had to be born again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The first catch is that one must believe the the Bible is the true word of God. Then the rest will follow.
Photgr, I am really taken aback by what you said that you are not sure if you will go to heaven. That you do not feel worthy and will leave it up to the Lord !
Are you kidding, you know none of us are good enough according to the book of Isaiah, None OF US, No One is worthy.
You know better, we are saved by Grace through faith and not of Ourselves, it is the gift of God not Works so no can boast that they were wonderful enough to get to heaven ! (Eph. 2:8,9) Being an evangelist means knowing the way to heaven and being able to share that with others. And I know that you know the way.
And yes I am still picking on you Photgr= there will be Christians that will be in heaven even despite their actions or lack of actions here.
Scripture does seem to speak of some level of crowns we will receive from how we were (acted,believed), but we are also told in heaven that we will throw our crowns at our Saviors feet.
That does not sound like there is any pecking order in heaven.
I personally don't care if I am in the basement closet of a mansion there or in the formal dining room. I just want to be there.
And what a day of rejoicing that will be.
God made the way to get into heaven so easy, even a child can do so. As a Sunday School teacher years ago I prayed with a number of Children who wanted to be born again.
To Anonymous, let's say that Mohammad died and was transported to what is believed to be heaven.
Did Mohammad offer his life as a sacrifice for his followers and those who would later follow ?
They key thing is this did Mohammad defeat death and return to earth after being fully dead like Jesus did ? Did Mohammad resurrect from the dead three days later from a sealed tomb like Jesus
did? Was he seen by over 500 people after he rose from the dead, and did he cook anyone breakfast afterwards also?
The final and only answer is No, No and No again. No on have ever done that except the Lord Jesus Christ.
And just for fyi, Jesus was seen rising up into heaven by His disciples in the book of Acts.But He was seen rising up into heaven heaven AFTER having died and being ressurrected. Key points.
That is what makes Him the Son of God and God, the only true Savior of the world. I don't deserve to go to heaven and that is the point, no one does apart from believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as the one and only truly Savior who died on the cross to take our place for the death we deserved. We deserved the death of being eternally separated from God, how horrible that would be.
Those who do not go to heaven will sadly be seperated from God for eternity. It will a forever hell of pain and suffering. And it makes me sad for those who reject Jesus and do not spend forever with him.
I have family who if they died right now would not be waking up in heaven. I cry over that, I pray over that and I have tried to talk to them about it. And I will keep praying and praying because the Word says that it is God's desire that none should perish.
(Note:Jesus was not actually seen by anyone being resurrected from the dead. but after the third day in the tomb the tomb was found opened and He, Jesue appeared to Mary and some of the disciples)
O.K. D.J. I finally put more than my two cents in.

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