Not for Ladies - Just for Men
You Can Go To Heaven If You Want To
by Dr. Tom Wallace
Dr. Tom Wallace is a well-loved preacher who has been used of God across the country. He is Pastor Emeritus at Franklin Road Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
It was almost midnight as we approached the gate at the entrance to Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Even though the plant was officially shut down because of an accidental discharge of radioactive materials, the place was like a beehive of activity with maintenance and specialized operators. Once the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington, D. C. gave the go ahead, Unit One could go back into operation and more than 700 people would once again be involved in producing electrical power at a cost of one half million dollars per day.
I was impressed with the security of the place. We had clearance from the shift supervisor to come by after our closing service at the church nearby where I was preaching. We had to sign in, give name, address, social security number, and answer a number of questions about citizenship, possession of alcohol, drugs, fire arms, radioactive materials and a dozen other things. We had to show our driver’s license.
At that point we were allowed to proceed to the second check point where most of the process was repeated and we exchanged our pass for a visitor’s tag and were sent through a screening device and frisked from head to foot. We then proceeded to a third area where we signed in again and produced our driver’s license the second time.
The only reason we had gotten this far was because my first cousin, Jerry, worked there and had made arrangements for us ahead of time. Once inside, I gawked and stared at the hundreds of gauges and blinking lights, dozens of technicians in white uniforms and panels of computer screens that looked like one hundred combined jumbo 747 airliner cock pits. My remarks came naturally, “Wow.”
Getting clearance to enter that facility had certainly been a complicated process. Suddenly I thought about getting into Heaven. It would be a million times more fascinating than this. I remembered the verse, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9) I can’t wait to see and hear and learn about all the glories that await in Heaven that are so far beyond my imagination and understanding.
I realized too, that there would be a screening process there, also. Only those who are accompanied by the Lord Jesus Christ will be allowed access into that city. If my cousin, Jerry, had not taken me in, I would not have gotten through the screening process at that nuclear plant, Three Mile Island.
Without Jesus, no one will get through the gate of Heaven. In fact Jesus said, “...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Peter emphasized this also when he stated, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) It is obvious then that we can not get into Heaven on our own. Our merit, morals, and good behavior will not suffice.
Most people in our world still believe it is simply a matter of weighing the good deeds against the bad deeds, and that our eternal destiny then is decided by the tip of the scales. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When we come to the gate of Heaven it will not matter what kind of car we drove, or brand of suit we wore, or our appearance, or speech, or our politeness, or any other matter. It won’t matter how many good deeds we did. The question is simply, “Is Jesus with you, in your heart, to take you through the entrance?” It’s the most important question in life, and it must be settled before death. Will you be able to enter the gates of Heaven.?
Now the Bible is very clear on the steps that we must take to assure that all is well in this matter. First, we must understand about the problem of original sin. We are not sinners because of what we are doing or what we are not doing. We are sinners because of who we are. We were born with our sin problem. David said it this way, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) The Apostle Paul touched on this when he wrote, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12)
This condition is labeled “original” or “inherited” sin. Just as our gene structure determines the color of our skin, our eyes, our hair and many other physical features that we inherit from our parents and grandparents, so the nature of sin is a part of our being that has been passed along to us from our parents and goes all the way back to our original parents, Adam and Eve. Once we understand this, then we will be able to grasp and accept the statement of the Bible that says, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8)
Now it will be important to note that in these verses the singular term “sin” is used. David said, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1) Isaiah, speaking of the Savior dying for us, said, “...thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,...” (Isaiah 53:10) “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Jesus said about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (John 16:8)
Because of this sin practice we are susceptible to the temptations and circumstances around us. Some people end up what others would think of as ‘bad’ sinners, killing or committing immorality, while others restrained by better circumstances and conditions and training may be ‘good’ or better sinners, and guilty of only malice and lust. Jesus explained, however, that those who hated their brother were guilty of murder and those who lusted were guilty of adultery in the heart. He was saying a white lie and a black lie are the same, and one is just as much sin as the other. It doesn’t matter whether people see us as good or bad, because before God we are all sinners.
James stated, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) Even if a person is able to ‘clean up their act’ and stop lying, stealing, lusting, or hating his brother, he is still a sinner and still cannot go to Heaven, even if he is getting close to keeping the Law. None of us can be good enough to go to Heaven on our own merit.
When God gave the Ten Commandments, He did not intend for people to use them as a ladder to climb up to Heaven. Some picture the Law as a ladder with ten rungs, the bottom one on the earth and the top up in Heaven, and they try to climb up by correcting their problems one by one until they are able to make it into glory. The Bible explains that the Law is not a ladder at all, but a mirror to help us see that we are sinners. We are going down the road of life, doing the best we can, and somewhere along the way we come in contact with a sermon or a Sunday school lesson, or a soulwinner that helps us see ourselves as we really are, in light of the Bible. The law can’t save us; it can only show us our need to be saved. Paul said, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)
Once we come to the realization that we are sinners because the Bible says we are, instead of what we think or believe about ourselves, we are then ready to understand that the “...wages of sin is death...” (Romans 6:23) This death is the eternal or second death spoken of in Revelation 20:15. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Secondly, we must understand that the penalty of sin is eternal death. Because we are all sinners, we are all under the condemnation and judgment of God. There are no exceptions. “...death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12)
The Lord told John the Apostle on the Isle of Patmos to write, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) The unbeliever or person who has not trusted Christ as Saviour is in the same category as the murderer and the whoremonger and all the rest of that crowd.
We are all sinners. This might include the candy stripe volunteer at the local hospital, the Boy Scout leader, the volunteer fireman or the coach at the Little League ball game. Even though these folks are sacrificing hours of their time and giving of themselves to help others, they will still be cast into the Lake of Fire if they have not believed or trusted Christ as their Saviour.
Jesus explained to Nicodemus that, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18) It is not a matter of doing; it is a matter of believing or not believing. In fact, Paul taught, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Also in Titus 3:5 he says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” The Bible tells us, “...Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
What a horrible thing it will be for a person who has tried to be moral, ethical and helped people around them in every way possible to come to the stark reality that they are not going to make it in because they were deceived by some religious system or a faulty philosophy. All of us probably wish there was no Hell, but wishing does not make it so. Jesus talked much more about Hell than He did about Heaven. It is an awful reality; “For the wages of sin is death...” (Romans 6:23)
Dr. John Rice wrote a sermon years ago and had it published in pamphlet form. It was called, “A Good Man Lost and a Bad Man Saved.” The message related the account of two men who went into the temple to pray. One, a Pharisee, prayed, “...God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other:...” (Luke 18:11-14) The only one who went to Heaven was the one who admitted his own sinfulness and begged for God’s mercy and forgiveness. The one who depended on his own goodness and righteousness remained lost in sin.
Thirdly, the payment has been made completely, once for all, for all sin. There is good news. The payment has been made. “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.” The words of this old song tell it like it is.
Paul declared unto us the Gospel Good News, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (I Corinthians 15:3-4)
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the Lord in mercy and love killed a young innocent lamb to provide a covering for their nakedness. The shedding of blood and giving of a life illustrated what He would do later on the cross of Calvary. The innocent Lamb of God would give His life and shed His blood to provide a covering for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:1)
The same truth is seen in the account of the Passover Lamb in Egypt. Once again the lamb was slain and the blood applied to the door post. Those who believed and applied the blood were spared judgment. Those who did not believe experienced the death of their first born children as well as their animals. It was an awful time of judgment.
When the children of Israel were traveling in the wilderness of Sinai they experienced a plague of snake bites. Many of them died. God told Moses to put a brass serpent on a pole and have the people come and look upon the brass serpent. Those who believed the promise lived. Those who did not believe died. The brass serpent pictured Christ becoming sin on the cross. Those who trust what Christ did at Calvary are spared eternal death. Those who believe not will die in their sins.
Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15) There are a number of Old Testament experiences that illustrate the same truth.
It is our faith in what Jesus did on the cross that saves our soul. When our faith is fixed in Christ, conversion takes place and a tremendous change in our lifestyle and habit pattern results. Paul taught, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
Fourthly, the Lord has given us the promise of salvation. In the little book of I John there is a verse that says, “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” (I John 2:25) This life is a gift given to us by the Lord. “...the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b) The promise of salvation is made to every person on earth. “...God is no respecter of persons:” (Acts 10:34)
Peter put it this way; “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) The word “Whosoever” is found throughout the New Testament. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Again, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Jesus, Himself said, “I am the door: by me if any man (or woman) enter in, he shall be saved,...” (John 10:9) He also said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man (or woman) hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
I have given thousands of gifts to people in my lifetime. I do not remember even one time when a person has refused to accept a gift from me. We would not think of refusing a Christmas gift or a birthday gift. It is difficult to understand why anyone would turn down God’s offer of eternal life. He calls it the “gift of eternal life.”
The only explanation we offer why anyone would refuse God’s gift is this one from the Bible. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (II Corinthians 4:4) Now the Lord has done His part. He has done all He can do without overriding our free will. He asks us now to be willing to accept His provision on the cross as the payment for our sin and believe that the sin debt has been paid. This promise is that His blood will cover all our sin and our names will be recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. At this point a reservation is made for us in Heaven. We are given His Word that all the arrangements are complete. Whether we go to Heaven or not depends upon the Lord keeping His promise and not on whether we hold out or maintain an acceptable lifestyle. He is the Saviour and not we ourselves. Once the Lord comes into our heart, His presence has an effect on our desires and ambitions as well as our lifestyle and habit patterns.
Several years ago I was invited to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to speak to a large group of missionaries. My overnight flight from Miami, Florida, landed in Rio de Janeiro then on to Sao Paulo. I had been there before and was somewhat familiar with the procedure of clearing customs and immigration. When I approached the check-in counter, I presented my passport to the agent who appeared to be a friendly, young Brazilian girl. She flipped through my passport several times and then looked at me and said in broken Portuguese English, “Visa, Visa.” I jokingly handed her my “Visa” card. “No, no”, she said, “Visa, Visa.”
“I don’t have a Visa,” I told her. “You don’t need to have a Visa to come to Brazil.”
“Oh, you do now,” she said. They had changed the law. Neither the travel agent nor the airline had kept up-to-date on the requirements. Nobody checked my documents. They would not let me in. They confiscated my passport and my luggage and put me under house arrest for the day and put me back on a plane for Miami that night.
Even though I had purchased a ticket, prepared my sermons, had my suits cleaned and pressed, arranged for a pulpit supply for our church and a dozen other things, they would not let me in. I explained to the immigration officers that I had come to help their people. I was going to give them some helpful materials. I pointed out that after four days I would be leaving and assured them that they would not have any problems with me. They were very friendly. They smiled as though they understood and even sympathized, but they would not bend or budge. I did not get in.
On the way home, I gave a lot of thought to a number of people I knew who would experience very similar circumstances when they get to the gate of Heaven. They probably have joined the church, been baptized, given money, sang in the choir, taught a class, worked in some phase of ministry, but somehow they did not really put their faith in Christ. They may be just as innocent and unknowing as I was in Brazil, but it will not get them in.
Dear reader, I plead with you to double check to be sure that everything is in order. Please be sure that you clearly understand the problem of sin, the penalty of sin, the payment of sin and the promise of salvation to all who truly believe and trust Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Not long ago I talked with a man who said he was not sure that there was a God. He also remarked that he was not sure he believed the Bible. I asked him, “If the Bible is true and there is a God, then what will happen to you?”
He said without hesitation, “I would go to Hell.”
I asked him if he might be willing to pray, “If you are up there and there is really a Heaven and Hell, I would be delighted to have you come into my heart and save me.”
He said, “Oh, I would be glad to do that” and he did. I hope that he truly got saved. I am waiting to see how it turns out.
My dear reader friend, I want to assure you that there is really a God in Heaven who is willing and ready to save you, if you will simply put your trust in Him and ask Him to do so right now.