What can keep you out of heaven? Why, after we die and stand before God to give an account of our lives, will some be accepted into the humanly indescribably joy of His presence for eternity, while some will be sent away into excruciating eternal punishment? Is it that some did more good deeds during their lives, while some sinned more? Is it that some made a profession of faith in Jesus at some point in their lives? Or is there a little more to this than a simple one line explanation?
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin…And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:12-13, 18-19)
These verses refer back to the Israelites who were not allowed to enter into the promised land of Canaan, yet it is interesting that if you read carefully, you see that obeying and believing are used interchangeably–they are the same. Who could not enter God’s rest? Those who did not obey. Why could they not enter? Because of unbelief. So, the issue is not whether we believe or obey: these are synonymous. If we truly believe God, we will obey Him.
There is another reason why some will be welcomed into eternity and others rejected, and Jesus famously explained it to Nicodemus:
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.’”(John 3:3, 16-21)
The reason some will be accepted and others rejected is because some have been born again–they have believed and trusted in Christ and genuinely want to be God’s–but others do not. These people want to be good, to be holy and pleasing to Him, to belong to His kingdom–and through faith in Jesus’ death on the cross they are forgiven and accepted by Him. Others, however, want no part of God. Light–Jesus Himself–came, and God is reaching out to us through the Bible’s message of forgiveness through Him to all who come, but many love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
So, what can keep you out of heaven? The answer is that YOUR STUBBORN RESISTANCE TO THE CALL OF JESUS IS WHAT CAN KEEP YOU OUT OF HEAVEN. Your love of whatever is keeping you away from coming to God. The things in your life that God says are wrong but you won’t give up. Your stubbornness. Your pride. Your refusal to bow your soul–your very existence–before Him in humble submission.
He has opened the door, but YOU have to walk through it. If you want to be part of Him, of what is right and good, He will never refuse you or push you away. But if you do not, the guilt–and the consequences–are yours!
Help me come to You. Help me be one who does the truth and comes to the light, that my deeds may be clearly seen that they have been done in You. Amen.