So You Want To Go To Heaven?

Did you know that not all “Christians” are going to heaven?  No, it’s true.  Not everyone who professes to be a Christian is actually going to be counted among those who will spend eternity in paradise with God the Father.  I’m not the one who came up with this idea; this idea originated with Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7:21-23

** New International Version

King James Version

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'


21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


Does this mean that there are those who will call Jesus “Lord” but will not enter into the kingdom of heaven?  That seems to be exactly what these verses say; so what is it that gets one into heaven?  Verse 21 states that only those who do the will of God will enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Does this then get into a works-based theology meaning that anyone who wants to get to heaven must find someway to work their way there?  What about the concept of grace and how does that fit in?


Ephesians 2:8-10

** New International Version

King James Version

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.



Many people focus on verses 8 and 9 of this Second Chapter in Ephesians and do not move on to the 10th verse.  We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  The reason that we were created for this purpose is that we are God’s workmanship; He is the potter and we are the clay.  He molds and makes us for His good purpose.  That purpose is defined by this verse.  We were designed for good works and that purpose was pre-ordained by God the Father.  He not only saw that we were to do good works, He also prepared them in advance for us to do.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus was confronted by a question that was troubling on its face.  His own disciples were concerned about their position in the coming kingdom and wanted to know who would be the greatest.  Clearly, they were contending amongst themselves for power and position and took their argument to Jesus.  The answer given had to be surprising not jus to them but also to us.


Matthew 18:1-4

** New International Version

King James Version

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.



After calling a small child to Him, Jesus said that you had to be changed and become just like this small child.  He indicated that conversion must take place in the life of the one professing belief. 

We hear people talk about being “born again” and like Nicodemus in the 3rd Chapter of the Gospel of John, many do not understand what it means.  Being “born again” or being changed or converted means to become new again.  One must be reborn spiritually.  It can be summarized as A, B, C or admit, believe and confess.  Admit that you are a sinner needing the gift of salvation through Almighty God; believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of a virgin birth, sent to die a cruel death on Calvary’s cross and rising again on the third day to everlasting glory; and confess your sins before God repenting (or turning away from) of those sins.  The last step implies a willful act and even though all Christians sin even after the salvation experience, they pick themselves up and seek restoration of their relationship with God.  Salvation is the experience; sanctification is the process by which we grow closer to God and become more Christ-like.

The lesson contained in verse four of this passage is that we need to understand who we are.  We are nothing absent the grace of God.  We should be humble in our position before God.  Everything we have ever done, all of our works are filthy before Him. 

Isaiah 64:6

** New International Version

King James Version

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;we all shrivel up like a leaf,

and like the wind our sins sweep us away.


6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


His standard is one that we could never hope to reach and yet, in His love, He extended to us the opportunity to become His sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, His Son.


So if we are to be considered the sons and daughters of God through our acceptance of Jesus in our lives, what does that really mean?  If Jesus is the Son of God and we are the sons and daughters of God as believers in Christ, does that entitle us to the same consideration?  It seems to do exactly that.

Matthew 12:48-50

** New International Version

King James Version

.48 He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."


8 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.


Note, however, what Jesus had to say verse 50 of this passage.  Those who do the will of God are to be considered His brother and sister.  Clearly, “doing the will of God” implies action on the part of the believer.

In the 10th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus talked about taking up one’s cross and following Him.  Too many people today equate the taking up the cross as accepting the burdens of the Christian life.  It is important to recognize what Christ was talking about in this passage.  The cross was an instrument of death, the very instrument that Jesus knew would end His mortal life on this earth.  It was a tool of the executioner.  The 39th verse in this chapter talks about losing one’s life for the sake of Christ.  It is dying to that life, the life of the unbeliever, that Christ was talking about.   By dying to that life, one would inherit eternal life.

Matthew 10:37-39

** New International Version

King James Version

37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.


37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.


We all know that people can tell you anything.  There is an old expression that “talk is cheap.”  It really is.  Jesus knew this too. 

Matthew 7:16-20

** New International Version

King James Version

16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.


16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.


The heart of a man (and a woman) is evidenced by what they do, not by what they say.  A person’s actions evidence what they truly believe and for the one who claims Jesus as Savior, those actions should reflect the life and teachings of Christ.  In short, if you love Jesus Christ, you will do what He says.  When you do what He says, He and the Father abide in you.  If you don’t, well, you don’t love Jesus.

John 14:23-24

** New International Version

King James Version

3 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.



We have all heard the expression that you “reap what you sow” but most of the time, people use this phrase to explain that people should not be surprised by what happens to them.  The actual context of that phrase is one of an eternal nature.

Galatians 6:7-10

** New International Version

King James Version

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.


7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.


If you act to please your sinful nature, the results will be destruction.  I believe that this passage reflects that destruction will not only be temporal but also eternal due to the language contained in the second half of verse eight, i.e. when you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life. 

We are commanded to do good for the time is approaching when we will reap a harvest.  Do not give up.  Keep persevering for the cause of Christ.

What does all of this mean when you read it together?  Quit playing the game.  If you are going to claim the name of “Christian” or “Little Christ”, then act like it.  Let your life reflect what you believe.  If you don’t actually believe it, quit being the hypocrite.

If you ask a roomful of people,  “Who wants to go to heaven?”, everyone will raise their hand.  If you ask them, “Who wants to give Jesus Christ lordship over your life?”, you won’t get the same response.  It’s the same question.  How would you answer it?



** A modern language quote is provided for readability together with the accompanying KJV version which is believed by many to be a more accurate representation of the original scripture.


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