No matter what we think about the answer to the questions as to who shall and who shall not enter Heaven, the Holy Bible gives us quite clear pointers.
Revelation 21:27a leaves no doubt saying: “And there shall in no way enter into it anything that defiles, or any making an abomination or a lie.” Here the Apostle John lays down three types of people who will not be given entry into Heaven:
1) Those who “defile”.
This covers those who are defiled by sins of the heart; even though they may deny it or not feel it, but they have refused, nonetheless, to be made clean. People may appear to be perfectly honest on the outside, but in truth are vile and wicked in the inside, with a worldly-minded self-centred nature. The cares of this world are all that matters to them, whether or not they know the Lord. The politics of this world, the money of this world, the business of this world, the pleasures of this world, the fame of this world, matter more to them than all else, especially that of Heaven and Eternity.
Second Peter 3:14 warns of this position and attitude saying: “Therefore, beloved, looking for these things, be diligent, spotless, and without blemish, to be found by Him in peace.” As born again Christians, we are to be found ”spotless – and without blemish.” Those who defile, are not, and cannot be, in this category.
In Mark 3:28 Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter.” To achieve this, however, requires an acceptance of one’s own sin and fallen nature, true repentance therefrom, and forgiveness of others, so that forgiveness may be received. For as Luke 6:37 warns us: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Those who fall into this category generally can recognise themselves when pressed, as being proud, self-righteous, self-honouring and conceited, loving the praise of men and the good opinion of them in this world. However, at the same time, they cannot recognise the sorrows of their own sin. They have no spiritual anxiety for their position, or that of others, and are content in their sin, wallowing in it, to the extent that they will be offended at suggestions of repentance.
Such men and women are often held in high regard by the world for their contributions and status, and appear to be working well for the Lord. But it is a sham and a lie, for they do all to glorify themselves and care not a whit of God and eternity. This is the reason the Lord sees them as defiles and in His sight they count for nothing, and nothing which is defiles, may enter into Heaven.
2) Those who make an “abomination”.
Those who make an abomination before the eyes of the Lord are those who practice and take pleasure in those things which, in the flesh, the Lord sees as an abomination. Abomination here means an outrage, a disgrace, a scandal, an atrocity, a hateful thing, a repugnant and loathsome thing. These are things which not only God finds unacceptable, but are also be seen as being outside the morals and traditions of an educated and biblically enlightened society. Those in adultery or fornication, those living unclean lives in drugs and alcohol, those who are gluttons, swearers, blasphemers and liars. Those who live lives in constant quarrelling, wrath, anger, envy and the like. Those who let their lusts and passions control them as they live for today and immediate self-gratification at the expense of all else. Those, are an abomination to God.
3) Those who “lie”.
Here the meaning of lie must be extended beyond the simple definition of telling a mistruth, for God is greatly concerned about what is happening inside us, not just what we do on the outside. The reason for the lie is important. Here is means :to utter falsehood with an intention to deceive, or with an immoral design, in means hypocrisy.
Jesus was constantly lambasting the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, not just for their lying, but their motivation in deceiving others. They did not do themselves what they required of others, and misled others to make them worse sinners than they themselves were. Those who lie and those who live as hypocrites, will find themselves excluded from Heaven. James warns us saying in 1:26 “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” It is not just lying that comes form out of our mouths, but that which does come, can take us from the promise of Heaven. For he goes on to say in v3:6 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and setts on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
Following on from the comments of James 3:6 we must recall those words from Jesus himself as he said in Mark 7:15“There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.”Even although we appear to live an acceptable life, yet cannot bridle our own tongue, we can and shall, lose all.
In comparison to the above, Revelation 21:27b leaves no doubt as to who will be allowed into Heaven saying: “only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Quite simply, John is saying there that only those whose names are written in the Book of Life will make it into Heaven.
How can we know, or how can we guarantee that our names are in that book? Certainly we cannot know the manes in the Book, but we can in some ways uncover from the Bible, the typical character of those whose names will be in the Book of Life.
1) Those who are repentant:
These are they who have been convicted of their own sin and unworthiness before the Lord. These are they who have felt the weight of their own sin, in deed and in truth and have repented from it; have turned away from it and left it behind. They have mourned over their sin and hated it. They are those who now no longer feel well about their own present condition, counting themselves only as one of those in desperate need of being saved. They are those who have confessed to God from the depths of their whole being “Lord, I am indeed unclean.”
2) Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ:
These are those who have understood the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross and have cast upon Him all the burdens of their soul. They are those who have trust in the Lord, accepting that all He says is true and who have put their trust in Him, no matter what happens. They take the wisdom Jesus offers, as theirs; the righteousness Jesus offers, as theirs: the justification Jesus offers, as theirs; the forgiveness Jesus offers, as theirs; the redemption Jesus offers, as theirs. They have believed in Jesus Christ of Nazareth and have come to Him for their salvation, trusting in Him and in Him alone, in spite of what the world may throw at them; and in that trust and belief is a faith which provides inner peace, no matter what.
3) They are born of the Spirit and Sanctified:
They have done as Ephesians 4:22 & 24 asks “For you ought to put off the old man (according to your way of living before) who is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” and v24 “you should put on the new man, who according to God was created in righteousness and true holiness.” They have put off the old man and put on the new; the new, being a man after God. In that, they have renewed the spirit in their mind, as a new heart and new nature has been given them by God. They can be recognised by the fruit of this spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23, for “the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.”
This does not mean they are completed works. It does not mean that they do not occasionally slip and suffer shortcomings, but it means that the central focus of their lives is towards holiness, and toward ever increasing holiness; daily increasing holiness. It is the beat of their heart, for since they love God, they want to be with Him and close, oh so close to Him, all the time.
Why is this important for Christians to know? Jesus explains in Matthew 25:31-46 saying:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory. And all nations shall be gathered before Him. And He shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And indeed He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats off the left.
Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You?
And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me.
Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry, and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.
Then they will also answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You?
Then He shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.”
How hard is that? Well Jesus gave us a clear idea when he said in Matthew 19:24“I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”
For those back-slidden Christians, Second Peter 2:20-22 provides confirmation of the seriousness of their situation: “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.””
As for the lukewarm Christian Jesus simply says “I will spit you out of my mouth”(Revelation 3:16).
Amen and Amen.