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Robert Jeffress - Who Will Be In Heaven?

Robert Jeffress - Who Will Be In Heaven?

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Robert Jeffress - Who Will Be In Heaven?

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Jesus said, "I am the Way and the truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me". Yet people in today's all-inclusive culture try to claim that all religions lead to God. Well, today, I'm going to show you what the Bible requires of those who want to spend their eternity with God and his family. The truth may surprise and even offend some of you. Today we're answering the question, who will be in heaven? On today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Maps can be very useful when you're traveling in unfamiliar territory. I discovered that truth the hard way a number of years ago. A pastor friend of mine in Canada had asked me to come to his church to speak at a banquet. And so, I got on the plane one Friday morning here in Dallas, and traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba. And got in about four in the afternoon, retrieved my luggage, went outside in front of the terminal, and waited for the pastor to pick me up. I waited, and I waited, and I waited. No pastor.

So I went back into the terminal to call him, and I retrieved the letter of invitation from him. And I noticed that the address in the return portion of the letter didn't match where I was. I had been to speak for him before in Winnipeg, and I just assumed he was still in Winnipeg. So, realizing I had a little bit of a problem, I went to the airline ticket counter, and I said, "Look at this letter. This letter says I'm supposed to be some place called Vancouver, British Columbia. And, of course, I'm here. I wonder, is there a bus I can catch? I need to be there in about 30 minutes". They laughed, and said, "Bus? Vancouver is 1500 miles from here".

Oh, I thought, what am I gonna do? But they said, "This is your lucky day. We have a plane right now that's getting ready to leave for Vancouver, and going West you gain two hours. And if you get on that plane right now, you can make it there in an hour, Vancouver's time". So, they said, "We'll hold the plane". I ran as quickly as I could down to the gate, went to the gate, gave the agent my boarding pass, was about to go down the jet-way when he said, "Would you wait just a moment"? I turned around, and he gave me a map of Canada. He said, "Read this. It will help you the next time you come to our country".

Now, you know, traveling to the wrong location can be embarrassing, but there's one time in your life you don't wanna accidentally end up at the wrong destination. And that's the day of your death. But today, we're going to talk about one of the greatest surprises about heaven, and that is who is going to be in heaven. We're gonna be surprised to find that many of the people we thought were going to be in heaven will not be in heaven. And many people we thought would never be in heaven will end up in heaven.

People say to me sometimes when I'm debating them on TV, they'll say, "Well now pastor, only God can declare who's gonna be in heaven. Only God gets to make that decision". And I say, "That is absolutely true". Only God can decide who is going to be into heaven. The fact is he's already decided that though. And he's made his decision public. He said there's only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the truth, and the Life. No man comes to the father except by me".

When I say, we're going to surprised about who is in heaven, what I'm saying is we're going to be surprised about those who have trusted in Christ. You know, in Hebrews 4:12, the New Testament says only God is able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of a person's heart. And so, I think we're gonna be surprised to find that many people we thought would have never trusted in Christ actually did ended up trusting in Christ their Savior. But we're also gonna be surprised that many people we thought had trusted in Christ in fact in their hearts had never trusted in Christ for salvation.

In heaven we may be surprised about other people who are or aren't in heaven, but we never wanna be surprised about our own eternal destination. And yet the Bible indicates many people will be surprised. It will be the surprise of a lifetime when they discover that although they thought they were gonna be welcomed into heaven God turns them away. Listen to what Jesus said about that surprise in Matthew 7 verses 21-23. We read those passages just a few moments ago.

Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. For many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast our demons, and in your name perform many miracles'? And then I will declare to them, 'i never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness'".

Will you underline that word in verse 22? Many will say to me on that day. What day is he talkin' about? He's talkin' about the Judgment Day. He said, not just a few people are gonna be surprised. Many will be surprised who thought God will welcome them into heaven, but in fact God will turn them away from heaven. Why is that? Simple, they were on the wrong road all of the time. You see, the Bible teaches that there are two roads in life that lead to two very different destinations.

Look up at verses 13 and 14. Jesus explained that in Matthew 7 verses 13 and 14 about the fact that there are two roads that lead to two destinations. "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".

Do you hear what Jesus is saying? There are two roads in life. One road is a broad road. It's a wide highway. It's the highway that leads ultimately to hell. And on this broad road that goes to hell, there are many, many people. Most are on that road. But Jesus said there is another road goin' in the opposite direction that is very narrow. It's the road that leads to heaven, and very few people are on that road. How can you make sure you're on the right road? The right highway that leads to heaven, and not on the highway that leads to hell?

Let's go back to Winnipeg, Manitoba for a moment. Let's just suppose you live in Oklahoma, and you decide you'd like to take a vacation to Winnipeg. You'd like to actually go there on purpose instead of by accident. And so, you say, you know, I think it would be nice to drive there. We're gonna drive to Winnipeg. And so, you get on the highway headed toward Winnipeg. But a little bit after you start out, you see sign that says, Dallas 100 miles. And you go a little further, and you see another sign that says, Houston 300 miles. The fact is you're headed in the wrong direction.

You sincerely believed you were headed north, but in spite of your sincerity, you were headed south. And that's the same thing for those of us about our eternal destination. There are many people out there who sincerely believe they're going to heaven. But it doesn't matter how sincere you are, you can be sincerely wrong. How can you make sure you're on the highway to heaven and not the highway to hell? The journey begins not in the next life. The journey to heaven or hell begins in this life. In this life, you're on one of two roads, Jesus said. You're on the highway to heaven or the highway to hell.

How can you know if you're on the highway to heaven? Well, there are four signposts, if you will, that you can check to see if you are on the right road that will end up in heaven. These signposts represent four essential truths you must acknowledge not just in your head but in your heart if you're going to end up in heaven one day. What are these signposts?

Signpost number one, we have to acknowledge that we have a sin problem. Now, you know, most people refuse to go any further. When they see that sign, they say, I'm not goin' any further. I don't like being called a sinner. That is insulting to me. And so, many people when they see that sign saying, I'm turnin' around. I'm gettin' on a different road. But the fact is God says we are all sinners. Romans 3 verses 10 to 12 says, "There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands. There is none who seeks for God. For all have turned aside. Together they have become useless. There is none who does good. There is not even one".

And then, the climax is verse 23. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". How many good people are there in the world? How many people are righteous? That word righteous means in a right standing with God. Whom does God look at and say, that's a really good guy or girl? Zero, none, Nada, zilch. There is no one righteous according to God's perfect standard. Some have sinned more than others, but we have all sinned and fallen short of God's plan for our life.

And that leads to signpost number two, that we must acknowledge on our way to heaven. And that is God is sinless. Even though we have a sin problem, God is sinless. The word in the Bible for that is holy. No less than six times in the Bible God says, "Be holy, for I am holy". That word holy literally means different, separate, above. God is different than we are. We are sinful. God is sinless. The fact that we do tolerate sin in our own lives and the lives of other people means we are sinful. But God is not like we are. In Habakkuk 1:13, God says about himself, "For your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and you cannot look on wickedness with favor". God has a zero tolerance level for sin because he is holy, sinless.

Now, when you couple that truth with the first signpost, we have a sin problem, and God is sinless, you can get pretty discouraged pretty easily. On our journey to heaven, none of us has enough spiritual gas or goodness to get into heaven. Now, some people have a quarter of a tank. Some people might have a half a tank. Some people might have 7/8's of a tank full of goodness in their own life, but it's not enough to get to heaven. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Well, that leads to a third signpost on the way to heaven, and that is our need for a Savior. Jesus is the solution to our sin problem. We are sinful. He is sinless, but he has exactly what we need to get to heaven. When Jesus died on the cross, and stay with me on this, when Jesus died on the cross, two amazing transactions took place. First of all, Jesus took the punishment I deserve for my sins. You know, the Bible says God is so holy he cannot overlook evil. In fact, in Nahum chapter one verse three, it says, "The Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished".

God demands that sin be punished. Somebody has to pay for your sin and my sin. And when Jesus died on the cross in some inexplicable way he took all of the punishment from God that you and I deserve. But not only that, not only did Jesus take the punishment we deserve, but he gave us his goodness that we don't deserve. He credited us with his righteousness. And that's why 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him", that is Jesus, "Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in him".

Did you know that because Jesus was the Son of God, he is the only person who's ever been born who could accomplish those two things? Only he could take the punishment for our sin because he was sinless. He didn't have to suffer for his own sin. He didn't have any sin. He was the only one qualified to bear the punishment we deserve. And he is the only person in history, as the Son of God, who had enough righteousness to get to heaven. And that's why Jesus is different than any other religious leader in the world.

Did you know that most of the world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, they all acknowledge that Jesus was a good man, that he was a great prophet, but they stop short, all of them, in saying that he was the Son of God. Jesus can never solve your sin problem until you acknowledge that he is the only begotten Son of God, who is capable of being your sin substitute, of taking the punishment you deserve and giving you and me the righteousness we don't deserve.

Romans 5:1, Paul says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". That word justified is a legal word. It means for a judge to declare not guilty. That means the moment you trust in Jesus to be your Savior in that great courtroom of heaven, God slams down the gavel and says not guilty, not guilty. You are forgiven of your sins. Now, this isn't a blanket pardon, a blanket forgiveness given to everyone. It is something that must be received through faith. Therefore, Romans 5:1 says, "Having been justified by faith". Faith is the conduit through which God pours his forgiveness, his goodness, into our life.

And that leads to the final signpost we have to acknowledge on our way to heaven. And that is we must choose to accept Christ's offer of forgiveness. You know, it's so interesting. If you have made it this far on the highway to heaven, you believe that you have a sin problem, and that God is sinless, and that Jesus can solve that sin problem by taking the punishment you deserve and giving you the righteousness you don't deserve.

If you accept all of those truths, you are closer to heaven than 99% of people in the world. Most people turn away at the first idea that they're a sinner. Others turn away out of discouragement when they think God is too holy for them to ever have fellowship with. Other people, they stumble over the idea that only Jesus can offer salvation. If you've made it this far, you've made it further than most people. And yet, you're not there yet. You're almost there, but you're not there. There is a final step you have to take on that highway to heaven, and that is to individually chose to trust in Christ for salvation.

You can believe that God is holy, and you are unholy. You can believe that Jesus died and paid the price for our sins. But there has to be a time when God transfers the goodness, the righteousness, of his son into your life. So that when God looks at you, he no longer sees your sin. He sees the goodness, the righteousness, of his son Jesus Christ.

John said it this way. "But as many as received Jesus, to them he gave the right to become the children of God even to those who believe in his name". You know, we all have various amounts of goodness in our spiritual gas tank. Some people have a quarter of a tank. Some people have half a tank. Some have 7/8's of a tank, but it's not enough. Some are bone dry. It really doesn't matter. None of us has enough. But God offers his forgiveness to anyone and to everyone who asks.

Randy Alcorn illustrates the wonderful power of God to forgive with this story from his own life. He writes:

Westley Allan Dodd tortured, molested, and murdered three boys in Vancouver, Washington, 15 miles from our home. Dodd was scheduled to be hanged, the first U.S. hanging in three decades shortly after midnight on January 4th, 1993. At dinner that evening, both of our daughters, then 11 and 13, prayed earnestly that Dodd would repent and place his faith in Christ before he died. I agreed with their prayer, but only because I knew I should.

I stayed up and watched. Reporters from all over the country crowded around the prison. 12 media representatives were firsthand witnesses to the execution. When they emerged 30 minutes after Dodd died, they recounted the experience. One of them read Dodd's last words.

"I had thought there was no hope and no peace. I was wrong. I found hope and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ". Gasps and groans erupted from the crowd. Their anger was palpable. How dare someone who has done anything so terrible to say he has found hope and peace in Jesus? Does he really think God will let him into heaven after what he's done? Shut up and go to hell, child killer. You won't get off that easy. The idea of God's offering grace to Dodd was utterly offensive. And yet, didn't Jesus die for Dodd's sins just as he did for mine? No sin is bigger than the Savior. Grace is literally not of this world. I struggled with the idea of God saving Dodd only because I thought too much of myself and too little of my Lord.

Listen to me this morning. It doesn't matter what you've done. It doesn't matter how much or how little goodness you have in your spiritual gas tank. God is able and willing to forgive you and to welcome you into heaven if you're willing to ask. As Paul said in Romans 10:13, "For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved".
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