Several months ago, I watched a movie entitled, “Heaven is for Real” with a group of ladies from my church. It was a great story with an absolutely intriguing unfolding that had each of us glued to the movie screen from beginning to end. As a Christian believer, Colton’s (the protagonist) experience reaffirmed a sense of peace and comfort to my soul, because I believe heaven is real. I must say, that just as strongly as I believe heaven is real, I believe hell is just as real. I believe these things, not based on a feeling, but because I believe the Holy Scripture teaches these truths. I also believe the scripture teaches God is love. But here is the point where I disagree with what the movie implied — “everyone will go to heaven simply because God is love.”
Yes, God is a God of love. He loves us enough to create the world around us, to create us, allow us the blessing of life, and allow us the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, His Son. Although all of this is evidence of God’s love, simply believing God is love is not enough to gain the right to be called a child of God and enter the Kingdom of heaven. Yes, heaven is for real, but do not be deceived — not everyone will gain access.
If everyone is bound for heaven, there is no reason for Jesus’ sacrifice. The whole premise, of the Christian life, revolves around the belief in the sacrificial death of Jesus as an atonement for the sin that separates us from a holy God. Probably, the most popular scripture throughout the world is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Yes, God is love — yet, that love was so great that it involved paying an ultimate price for our sins — that price was death for Jesus. My part in this verse is not to simply believe God is love, but to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, who died in my place, confess my sins and shortcomings to Him, and place my faith and total allegiance at His feet in total submission to His authority. This scripture promises those who follow Jesus, by faith, will have eternal life; however, this scripture does not indicate that everyone will make that choice — the key here is “whoever.”
Jesus died for all, but not all with follow. Salvation is for all, but not all will be counted among the “whoever believes.” Without that faith and belief in Jesus, without the sacrifice, without the remission and cleansing of sin, there is no access to heaven. If God allowed sin into heaven, then it wouldn’t be heaven. In fact, heaven is not only reserved for those cleansed by the blood of Jesus, but it is cut off and protected from those who choose to continue living without Christ. There is a place, just as real, reserved for those as well.
If everyone is bound for heaven, there is no reason for hell. Think about it. If heaven is to be a destination and place of reward for those who accept Jesus as their personal Savior, and hell is to be a place of torment and eternal separation from God, then why would hell exist if everyone was destined for heaven? Contrary to popular belief, there will be many who will not encounter the gift of heaven; in fact, the scriptures plainly teaches “few” will find heaven. Jesus is speaking in Matthew 7: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” As sad and harsh as it may sound, hell is for real and God is a God of righteousness, justice, and complete holiness. Popular, contemporary religion will not speak on the truth of hell, nor will one hear of a wrathful God — but do not be deceived — throughout all the ages, time and time again God has proven that He is a God who desires a holy people who follow Him, not because of force or fear, but because of allegiance, love, and commitment.
If everyone is bound for heaven, Jesus is a liar. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places (your version may say ‘mansions’); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:2-6 NO ONE comes to the Father, but through Me — this plainly says there are not many roads to heaven and those who choose to look for another way other than Jesus will come up short.
Colton Burpo, now a teenager, continues to stand up and defend his encounter with heaven to be true even in the face of recent news releases revealing another heavenly encounter by a young boy was admittedly a hoax. Quoted in a Christian Today news article, Colton says, “I hope that my story continues to point people to Jesus. He really, really loves you” (Lodge).
Yes, Jesus really, really loves us — everyone. He loved enough that He died for all mankind. And yes, heaven is real. On the authority and truth of God’s Word, we can trust that heaven is real. But do not be deceived — just because Jesus loves, does not equate to everyone experiencing heaven.
Lodge, Carey. “Colton Burpo Stands by Heaven is For Real” Christian Today. January 17, 2015 http://www.christiantoday.com/article/carlton.burpo.stands.by.heaven.is.for.real/46173.htm. Web. Retrieved 8.13.2015.