Links Daily Devotional

Anybody and Everybody

The words “it was credited to him” were written not for [Abraham] alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus from the dead. (Romans 4:23-24, NIV)

Like most of you, I enjoyed watching the U.S. Open on television this weekend. Sure, many golf fans were sadly disappointed at yet another heartache finish for Phil Mickelson, but the graciousness of champion Justin Rose went a long way to assuaging those sick feelings.

But besides the story itself, I was grateful for golf on TV because tickets for the tournament at Merion this year were hard to lay hold of. The size of the property meant that the USGA had to limit fan badges to only half of what a larger venue might have allowed.

Oh, this was still the egalitarian USGA. Anybody could get in. Anybody, but not everybody.

I was struck by the fact that anybody and everybody is where the debate rages in much present-day theology about who will worship in heaven at “the end of the age.” Can anybody get in? Can everybody?

From the book of Hebrews, we are given an important bit of information: “Just as we are all destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27). Call it a warning, if you will. There will come a time when we will die. Our physical bodies will cave in to the relentless aches of time or the stern ravages of disease. After that, we will stand before God. This is a universal occurrence; no one will escape it.

The question then becomes, how well will we stand? But theologians and philosophers have never been able to contain that question within the boundaries of self. They are often quite interested in what this means in general. Who will stand? And how?

The Bible’s repeated, prevailing answers are these: Those who stand will be people who put their faith in Jesus Christ, relying on his righteousness rather than their own as their entry to eternity with God.

That’s great news. The “badge” that lets you does not show where you were born or how much you educated you are. It has no pictures of your trophies or stock certificates, of what’s in your wardrobe or your garage. It doesn’t show your parents or your children. It only shows a picture of Jesus and it hangs around your neck by the thread of faith. That means that literally anybody can get into heaven if they put their trust in Jesus as their righteousness and salvation. Seize grace—the gift of God—by faith in Christ and you are saved.

But some are disheartened because such a parameter also means that not everybody gets in. God has placed a condition on his favorable judgment of us: faith in his Son. If you do not believe, if you reject the saving work of Christ, the gates will be closed to you. Hard as it is to say that, we simply cannot find any plain Scripture to the contrary. You will walk into heaven with Christ or you won’t walk in at all.

Jeff Hopper

June 18, 2013

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