The Gates of Heaven

Several recent articles and a television show assert that there are “many roads to Heaven.”  Some say “all roads go to the same place.”  (To that I would ask, does it matter which direction you are traveling on a road?)  Jesus claimed “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6   Some people have claimed that Christians are arrogant and exclusive for making the statement that Jesus is the only way to the Father.  We don’t make the statement…Jesus does.

What is heaven anyway?  Its a perfect place.  There is no sin in heaven, and no imperfection.  How can sinful, imperfect human beings go to such a place without spoiling it.  It will no longer be perfect if our sinful selves enter it.  Clearly, something has to happen to us to allow us to go in.

Jesus teaches that through the mystery of His death and resurrection, our passage has been purchased.  By our relationship to Him, we can be made perfect and able to enter Heaven.  Three questions arise.  Why was a price paid, how can we be prepared to enter, and why does it have to be Jesus who lets us in.

 Lets ask the question, why can’t everyone get into Disneyworld free?  Well, Disneyworld is not a public place.  Somebody paid for it, and now somebody has to pay for our entrance.  What if the price is too high for us?  We can’t go, unless somebody a whole lot wealthier pays the price for us.  Something like that happened when Jesus paid the price for us to enter Heaven.   Although I’m sure its a whole lot more mysterious and complicated than this illustration, my mind isn’t big enough for more than a simple example.

A second question would revolve around who gets to go in.  Even with an admission ticket, people can’t go into Disney World naked, intoxicated or for any other reason deemed to spoil the enjoyment of the park by others.  Jesus has to do something for us to make us acceptable.  He told a story illustrating this in the parable of the wedding feast, where the person wasn’t dressed acceptably without a wedding garment. Matthew 22:11  He also said we have to be “born again”.  John 3:3-7.  We have to go through a change so complete, its not just about new clothing, but a new life.  Jesus is the one who does this, through a gift of His grace.

The third question is why it has to be Jesus who lets us in.  I saw another living parable about entrance into heaven recently.  I attended a military retirement.  Upon ringing at the entrance to the building, I was met by an escort to accompany me to the room where the ceremony was to be held.  I couldn’t just wander in at will and find my own way to the event.  No one else could show me the way, either, only a designated military escort.  Jesus himself must accompany me through Heaven’s gate, and indeed He promises to do that.  John 14:3 

 Now comes the argument “what about all the people who never heard of Jesus?”  I used to wonder about that myself.  I just knew I could trust Jesus with the answer to that question, whether I was allowed to have that information or not.    Recently however, I read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.  Luke 18:9-14.  It says the tax collector prayed “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  And Jesus says this man “went home justified before God.”  In other words, although this man did not know Jesus, he recognized God, his need for God and God’s mercy, and he received God’s grace.  Its not whether one knows Jesus by name or not.  Its the failure to acknowledge God, one’s sinfulness and one’s need of God’s forgiveness and mercy, that closes one’s heart to God’s grace.

Nonni

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