Who Is In Heaven?

Some Christians like to say who is in and who is out. They eagerly and zealously declare that this group or that person is out. A church, I will not name even pickets funerals with signs with big letters that say God hates. People were upset with Rob Bells powerful book Love Wins because these people need people in hell so that their position in heaven will be joyous. Some are only happy when they are winning and others are losing.

A common refrain: If you die tonight, will you be in heaven tomorrow?

My honest answer is I don’t know. I don’t know if I were to die right now that I would be in Heaven in the next moment. I don’t know. I am not so full of myself to say that I am going to heaven. I know I have fallen short of what I ought to be. I hope. I pray. I want. I chose and still choose Jesus. I have a deep faith and commitment to Jesus and His way. I trust that Jesus has made a way for all to enter eternal life.

To the question who is in Heaven, Robert Farrar Capon responded, “People think it is good guys. There is nobody in heaven, but forgiven sinners because there was nobody available to go to heaven except forgiven sinners. There is nobody in hell, except forgiven sinners. The difference is that in heaven, they accept the forgiveness. In hell, they reject it. That’s it. You get into heaven by being bad and accepting forgiveness. Now, that does in a way mean you have permission to be bad. If you want to stick your hand in a meat grinder, you are free to do that. It’s stupid, but God isn’t going to run the universe that way. God is not going to punish. He cares more about relationships than behavior.”

No matter who you, what you have done and have not done God loves you personally. No one, absolutely no one is outside of the love of God. We are all included in the loving embrace of God, because all are created in the image of God. We become sons and daughters of God by loving everyone, just as God does. God’s love frees us up to be who we really are and this fierce, perfect, divine love transforms us into our best self.

If God loves us as we are than we should be able to accept ourselves and others as is and not be overly concerned about what other people think. We should live in loving, sane, and healthy ways. We should be Jesus to the world. We cannot live for sake of another. We need to live our life the best way we can growing in love, faith, hope, and joy. Our primary relationship should be with God putting God as the center of any and every one of our relationships will only deepen our love, compassion, and purpose.

Capon goes on, “God forgave you before you repented. That’s crucial. See, that is why it is so outrageous. The gospel is really vulgar, crass and immoral because it says God forgives the world before it repents. In the gospel, repent is always repent and believe. It means turn yourself around from not trusting the forgiveness and trust it. That’s it. It doesn’t mean that you earn it by repenting. You had it before.”

Only through Jesus can we escape the penalty of our sin. Let’s be honest all have sinned and fallen short. No one lives up to their own ideal, so how can we live up to the ideal God has set for our life. If you want to be saved to inherit eternal life, if you want to follow Jesus, then you must realize you have sinned. That is not the end of the story. Not even close.  Jesus enters the picture saving all form condemnation. Look to Jesus who died on the cross and trust what he did is for you for all. This is accomplished by faith in grace alone. The Bible says we are all sinners. Guilty of having sinned, we are separated from God dead in our sins we will suffer damnation. The only way to escape this judgment is by receiving Christ, by trusting in what Jesus did on the cross and continues to do in his people today. You don’t have to pretty yourself up. All you need do is accept the love and grace God offers freely in Christ Jesus.

We cannot and never will earn God’s grace and love. The good news is Jesus has already accomplished it and offers it freely to all. We need not be anxious for Jesus has rescued us. He works in us to make us we should be. No human words or works can add or subtract from the unconditional grace and limitless love of God in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The common heresy of our age is that we have to work for our salvation that there are certain things we must do and be to earn God’s forgiveness that there are things that can keep us from the love and grace of God. That’s a lie!

God’s love and grace is ours freely we don’t need to convert to the Christian religion to live in and with God. We merely need to respond in faith to what is already ours in Christ Jesus. Faith enables us to enjoy the gift of redemption that Jesus secured on the cross. God is taking creation somewhere making it alive in a new way as He did in Jesus.

Dying is something each of us must face eventually. We fear death. When we trust in God, we need not worry death will be the end; it is merely the beginning of a grand adventure. Yet, we can and should die to our old self and be reborn to our new self as God’s people in this life. As Christians, we don’t need to worry about what happens after this life. Our faith is not about going to heaven as much as it is about shaping our life on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.

Martin Buber Austrian-born Jewish philosopher writes, “Before his death, Rabbi Zusya said “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?”

Heaven is not later. Heaven is now. Heaven is not some far off celestial paradise. Heaven is here and now. Heaven stretches from here and now into eternity. Assured of Heaven, we should live here and now how we hope to live then all to the glory of God.

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4 Comments

  1. Steven C. Parrish

    Where in the scriptures does it even remotely suggest that God forgave any man before repentance and conversion.

    Repentance involves both mind and heart. The wrongness of the course or act must be recognized, and this requires an acknowledgment that God’s standards and will are righteous. Ignorance or forgetfulness of his will and standards is a barrier to repentance. (2Kings 22:10, 11, 18, 19; John 1:1, 2; 4:11; Romans 10:2, 3) For this reason Jehovah mercifully has sent prophets and preachers to call persons to repentance.

    Repentance marks a halt in the person’s wrong course, the rejection of that wrong way, and the determination to take a right course. If genuine, it will therefore be followed by “conversion” or a turns back or away.

    Conversion implies more than a mere attitude or verbal expression; it involves the “works that befit repentance.” (Acts 26:20; Matthew 3:8).

    Thus genuine repentance has real impact, generates force, moves the person to “turn around.”

    So again, where is ideas coming from.

    • First, thank you for reading and engaging in my writings. I am just learning what it truly means to live in faith by grace, what it means to really follow Jesus. My blog is meant to be a safe, open place to wrestle with our life and faith. I hope you will come back and read more.
      Now, let me respond to you.
      Robert Farrar Capon makes a strong argument for this in his book Fingerprints of God and his other books too. It is the protestant reformation doctrine of by grace alone that would back this up. capon uses Luke 15 and many of Paul’s writings including Romans also back this up. The Historical Orthodox Christian notion of God through Jesus secures forgiveness of sin on the cross would also back up the idea that God has already done it. God has already made a way for sinners, which is everyone to have a right relationship with God. In the gospels Jesus not once asks that someone make a full confession of sin or say the sinners prayer before he heals, forgives, or has compassion for the person. We are forgiven already, but by responding to God’s love and grace our lives should be different. We should start living in right, healthy, sane ways with God. Not to secure forgiveness or God’s love. The maxim: God loves you as you are but way too much to leave you that way holds true. Good works are not before we are saved, but after we come to faith in Christ through grace.
      You may want to you look at my two most recent postings:
      https://godwrestler.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/the-gospel-is/
      https://godwrestler.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/romans-4-taking-god-at-his-word/
      Once again, thank you.
      Grace and Peace

      • Steven C. Parrish

        Okay. Got in late. Give me a day to read and meditate.

  2. You really make it seem really easy together with your presentation however I
    find this topic to be really something which I believe I would by no means understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking ahead to your next post, I will try to get the cling of it!

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