WHO WILL GET TO HEAVEN?
If we ever hope to go to heaven, we must do the will of the Father. This is the only way. Not the will of men, but God’s will. Not our own will, but the will of God. Just because we call Jesus our Lord, this alone will not save us, we must be doers.
During my last year in the primary school in the early 60s, I got a Bible gift from the Church of God in Christ Mennonite in America and included in it was a tract titled “Sincere but Mistaken” some of us too will have come across the it. The summary of that tract is that someone may sincerely believe and hold on to something wrong. The category of people rejected in the above scripture thought they were sincere but they were mistaken because they had not done the will of God. They thought they had, but they hadn’t. They had done their own will or the will of some other men. This will be the worst thing that will ever be said to an individual, when the Lord on judgment day says to the majority of people, “Depart, I never knew you”. There will be no appeal to this decision. There will be no second chance.
These people in the above scripture seemed to be honest, but they were honestly mistaken. Apparently they were good people, because they had “done many wonderful works” in the sight of men. But they had not done the will of the Father which is in heaven. Man generally wants to do things his way and doesn’t really care what God thinks. We learn from the above scripture, that we don’t go to heaven by doing the will of men, or by doing what we think is right. The only way we can go to heaven is by doing the will of the Father. We will get there on His terms not ours!
What is God’s will?
The English dictionary defines ‘will’ (noun), as what is wished or intended (by the stated person); desire, intention or inclination. The will of God therefore is his desire, his intentions, what pleases him and what he expects from his creatures. This can be summed up as his precepts and the way he expects to fellowship with him and how we live our lives in the world he has created.
God’s will can also be viewed in light of his sovereignty that is the Sovereign Will of God; this is what he allows to happen. It refers to the sovereign plan of God that will happen in the coming hours. For instance, it is the will of God that Jesus should for the sins of mankind Mathew 26:39, Acts 4:27-28. In 1 Peter 3:17 Peter writes, “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” In other words, it may be God’s will that Christians suffer for doing good. He has in mind persecution. Paul gives a sweeping summary statement of this truth in Ephesians 1:11, “In him [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” The will of God is God’s sovereign governance of all that comes to pass. Isaiah 45:6; Amos 3:6
Because God is sovereign and His will can never be frustrated, we can be sure that nothing happens over which He is not in control. He at least must “permit” whatever happens to happen. Yet even when God passively permits things to happen, He chooses to permit them in that He always has the power and right to intervene and prevent the actions and events of this world. Insofar as He lets things happen, He has “willed” them in this certain sense. Who are we to query Him? Psalm 115:3, 135:6. The sovereign will of God is hidden until revealed. This is what many people are interested in knowing especially when trying to get married or take some vital decisions. They are interested in knowing what lies in the future. Deuteronomy 29:29, Amos 3:7
One other way of looking at the will of God is his permissiveness, that is, the Permissive Will of God. This is when God allows human beings to do what pleases them without necessarily meaning that he approves of it and allows them to face the consequences. An example of this was when the Israelites rejected Theocracy and demanded for a king ‘like other nations’ I Samuel 8:1-22.
There could be other ways of classifying the will of God, but if we really want to get to heaven, the relevant will the perceptive will of God referred to in the scripture quoted above.
How is this will of God revealed?
The will of God is revealed in the word of God – the BIBLE. No wonder David prayed in Psalm 119 verses 15, 27, 40 etc. for God to teach him His precepts. Do we really know what the will of the Father is, so that we can be sure of going to heaven? This is too important a matter to assume that we do or to take someone else’s word for it. We are not to rely on the philosophy of men but what the bible actually says, undiluted, unadulterated. The Bible is the only reliable place we can go for our answer. God’s authoritative will of command is found only in the Bible.
How can we know it- the pre-requisite?
To be able to discern what the will of God is, we must be transformed. Not just our external behaviour, but the way we feel and think—our minds. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12: 2; I Cor. 5:7; I Cor. 5:17. This is only when we can test and discern what the will of God is and interpret the word of God correctly. By allowing the mind of Christ to be in us, we can be at the same frequency with him and understand his language better.
God’s will of command is revealed with final, decisive authority only in the Bible. And we need the renewed mind to understand and embrace what God commands in the Scripture. Without the renewed mind, we will distort the Scriptures to avoid their radical commands for self-denial, and love, and purity, and supreme satisfaction in Christ alone.
Some Specific Will of God:
Believe in Jesus Christ:
God wants all to be saved. That is why he gave Jesus Christ to die for the sin of the world. For God so loved the world, the he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16. Jesus is the only true way to heaven; without him, no one can see God – John 14:6
Another will of God is our total repentance. This means to be sorry enough to quit. One major problem in the churches today is lack of repentance. Many still live in their old sins even after becoming church members. People are being immersed with their sins and they come out of baptism worse sinners. Activities of some church leaders did not even show any sign of repentance. John the Baptist preached it – Mathew 3:2. Jesus emphasised it. Mathew 4:17. God commanded it. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” Act 17:30. Anybody who wants to get to heaven MUST repent of all their evil deeds and turn back to God.
God wants us to live a holy life; Heaven is a holy place for holy people who want to dwell eternally with a holy God. Psalm 24:3-4. Holiness was commanded in the Old Testament “For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” Leviticus 11:45. It was reiterated in the New Testament “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy. I Peter 1:15-16. We are also enjoined by the writer of Hebrew to live a holy life if we want to see God “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. We are therefore to run away from all appearance of evil and be perfect as our father who is in heaven is perfect. Mathew 5:48. Unfortunately there is a dearth of sermon on holiness in our churches today! We think it is not possible to live spiritually in a carnal world, but Jesus knows that it is possible if we are willing and ready to combine humanity with divinity.
Total obedience is another will of God. He once said that to obey is better than sacrifice -“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. I Sam 15:22. He also warned the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land Isaiah 1:19. There is an indispensable necessity of obedience to the commands of Christ. An outward profession of religion, however remarkable, will not bring us to heaven, unless there is a total obedience to the commands of God as contained in the Holy Bible. Our obedience to Christ is a very serious decision and must not be taken lightly.
David was called a man after God’s heart because he knew how to praise God. It is also the will of God that we appreciate and thank Him in all situations because He is still good even when life isn’t. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you “-I Thessalonians 5:18
God himself is love. He wants us to love him and our neighbours especially the poor, fatherless and widows without deceit. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. ….Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” I John 4:7-21
There are other areas of the bible where specific will of God are mentioned but space will not permit to include them in this article. But I pray that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of our heart to see and meditate on these things with an ultimate desire to do them.
How do we do the will of God?
It is necessary to our happiness that we do the will of Christ. The indispensable necessity of obedience to the commands of Christ cannot be overemphasised. An outward profession of religion, however sincere, will not bring us to heaven, unless we are doers of the word. If we comply not with the will of God, we mock Christ in calling him Lord, as those did who put on him a gorgeous robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews. Saying or knowing and doing are different things and it is the doers that will be justified. James 1:22.
In order to do the will of God we need to
(a) Saturate our mind with the word of God. David said in Psalm 119:11 that “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against you. Paul also admonished Christians in Colossians 3:16 that the word of God should dwell in us richly
(b) Apply of the biblical truth to new situations that may or may not be explicitly addressed in the Bible. What is necessary is that we have a renewed mind, that is so shaped and so governed by the revealed will of God in the Bible, that we see and assess all relevant factors with the mind of Christ, and discern what God is calling us to do.
(c) Make conscious reflection before we act. Most of our thoughts, attitudes, and actions are spontaneous. They are just spill over from what is inside. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:34-36). This is a great task of the Christian life: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We need new hearts and new minds. Make the tree good and the fruit will be good (Matthew 12:33). That’s the great challenge. That is what God calls us to. We can’t do it on our own. We need Christ, who died for our sins.
(d) Constantly pray unto God to strengthen our inner man and the will power. David prayed unto God to specifically teach him how to do His will “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” Psalm 143:10.
(e) Rely on and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to lead us into Christ-exalting truth and work in us truth-embracing humility. Paul in Romans 7:18-25 confessed that we cannot do anything good if we are not delivered from ‘the body of this death’
We have already seen in Matthew 7:13-14, 21, above that only few will be saved, and many will be lost. How then do we make sure that we are among the few who are saved and not among the many who are lost? This is only by doing the will of the God. Only those who do the will of the Father can go to heaven. We must do all of God’s will, so that we can go to heaven. There is no other way. No single condition, that God imposes, can be ignored.
May God grant us the grace to be doers of His will.