John 3:35-36 – The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
I recently received an email that cited a prominent and beloved Christian evangelist. This man has served the church faithfully for years, and I certainly would never question his character or his years of faithful service to Christ. Sadly, however, this evangelist, in a recent interview, said the following when asked if good people who follow other religions would be in heaven: “It
would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won’t.” While it is absolutely true that God loves all people, as he declares in his word, and while it is equally certain that none of us can look into another’s heart to see if they truly have a genuine faith in Christ, it is also certain that those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Son of God who died on the cross for the sins of many will not be in heaven.
Where do I get such an idea? Well, I do not have to look far in the word of God to find it. In John 3:35-36, we see clearly spelled out for us who will go to heaven and who will not. If you have true, life-changing faith in Jesus Christ, heaven awaits you. If you do not, heaven is not your destination. It is not about whether or not you are a good person. It has nothing to do with works of righteousness under the guise of any religion. It has to do with believing in the Son of God and being “born again” (John 3:3).
What about the love of God? I think verse 35 of the above passage makes it plain for us. God loves all people, that is true. However, God loves his Son and his glory ultimately. God will not allow into heaven any person who has reached a mental point of personal accountability for his or her actions who has not been saved from his or her sins by trusting completely in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For God to allow good Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists into heaven would be for God to be ultimately unloving to Jesus Christ, who died to purchase God’s pardon for all who have faith in him. For God to bring any person to himself apart from Christ would be for him to make Jesus a liar, an unloving thing toward his Son, because Jesus told all of us that no one comes to God except through him (John 14:6). So, if we want to bring the love of God into the question of the exclusivity of Christ, let’s do it rightly by first thinking of the Father’s love for his Son as even more important than the Father’s love for the lost.
Christians, let us never fall prey to the temptation to hedge our bets when asked about who will enter heaven and who will not. God has spelled it out clearly in his word. If people ask us if a good, adult, mentally sound Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, or atheist will go to heaven when they die, let us be honest enough and loving enough to speak the truth. We have to say that such people will not go to heaven when they die unless, before their death, they place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Apart from Jesus, there is no salvation, no forgiveness, and no heaven for you when you die. That is the testimony of the scriptures, and we must speak that testimony to all people. To hide that message is not humble, it is unloving and arrogant as it hides the truth of God’s word from the lost and calls into question the very clear teaching of Christ.
Regarding the evangelist cited above, I am neither calling him unloving or arrogant. I actually pray that his words were taken out of context. I hope that the journalist who interviewed him twisted his words, and confused the evangelist’s true meaning and message. I think that is very possible to have happened in this case, and I want to give this servant of God the benefit of the doubt. However, even if this man would not affirm the words as they were printed, there are far too many who would, and those are the ones who need to be reminded of the absolutely clear standards taught by Christ.
Dear Lord, I pray that I will never shrink back from preaching, to all who will listen, the clear words of Jesus Christ about salvation. Let me never pretend not to know what your word has clearly spelled out. I also pray for all believers who would speak to the media about the gospel, that they would be clear in their words and unambiguous in their proclamation of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way for any person to be saved. Please help all in the Christian world to faithfully preach the one true gospel, and never to pander to the whims of a world that demands that Christians not hold such “intolerant” views.