And there’s a reason for that. I have been in the ministry for nearly 40 years, and it always concerns me to hear folks say that they are trusting their good works to allow them entrance into heaven. Hmmm, how many good works must I do to gain heaven??? Or maybe God measures our good works against our bad works? What if I have one more bad work than good?
I have often heard others say that their church will get them into heaven. I find not even the hint of such a thing in the Scriptures. I am afraid that teaching comes from the church, not the Bible. The Jews thought they would get to heaven because they were Jews, only to find that didn’t work either.
I also cannot and do not believe man or church has any authority in heaven to be able to say what goes on there. We must be very careful when a man or a church says they have any authority about what happens there. God alone is the authority both in heaven and on earth. He, as Creator and Sustainer of all, must be looked to as the One who allows entrance into His heaven. I Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not the Author of confusion but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
All of this information seems to bring us to the question, “Who gets into heaven?” Let’s allow Jesus, who is God in the flesh, answer this question for us in His own words. In John 3:1-21, we find Jesus clearly explaining who can get to heaven to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and a religious ruler of the Jews. Although this man had a PhD in religion, as it were in those days, he still did not have all the answers because religion, in and of itself, does not save anyone. Deep inside Nicodemus was searching for answers, but pride compelled him to approach Jesus at night so that he would not be seen by anyone, especially his peers.
In John 3:2, Nicodemus appears to be trying to flatter Jesus when he says, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” Inevitably, Nicodemus has come to the right place for answers, and he has come to the right conclusion about Jesus, but he has missed the truth that Jesus came from God and was God in the flesh.
Next week we will examine Jesus’ reply to this highly educated Pharisee who has come to Jesus in secret for answers to questions that even with all of his education, he had no answers for.