2007-07-05 - Summer Questions
2007 #4 ~ Salvation Question
Acts 4:12, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Today's Question: "My question is, if a person does not know what they believe in when they pass away, would God look on the heart of that person and let them into heaven?"
First I thank you for the background to your question, which I did not include here. I think that you are correct that the person you have referenced - if they lived outside of Christ - showed no signs of repentance, and have passed, even in a tragic accident at a young age, there is sadly no reason to maintain that they were ever regenerated in Christ. It is hard to write. I long to say, "There is always hope." I can say, with confidence, that God - who is holy and righteous - will make no mistakes respecting His separation of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25). However, I wish I could say in your case, as I have wished in many others, that we can still hold onto a glimmer of hope, respecting the eternal state of those who appear to have died outside of the grace and mercy of Christ. I want to cling to that hope that they repented, like the thief on the cross, at the last second. I believe that there will be those we are surprised to see both embraced in the loving arms of Jesus, and those who we are surprised to see utterly rejected and cast out of the presence of the lamb, into the lake of fire, at The Great Day.
I would like to take your question on a little tangent, and hope you will allow me the slight digression. It is true that many, it seems, do not know what they believe when they pass away. Many have their stakes set in any number of spiritual systems. Many attempt a little Jesus, a little Zen, and some take a crack at holistic endeavors. We could compile an impressive list of diversions that those who are seekers their whole lives try, and yet still never find peace and security. Jesus says, "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me," John 14:6. My point is that while we may not know what they believe when the die, we do have a good idea what they do not believe. When people live their lives looking to appease their accusing conscience, by a little of this and a little of that - and fail to look to Christ - we may not be sure exactly what they believe, but we know that they were not resting in the atonement of Christ for all their hope and trust. Jesus makes the claim that he is not one way among many, but clearly states that He is, "The Way."
At rock bottom, unless Christ remakes the heart, the heart is not good (Jeremiah 17:9). There are few hearts that show their true blackness with outright wickedness such as murder or pedophilia, but still our hearts are, outside of Christ's remaking, black as coal. The evil in the unsaved person's heart often is subdued by cultural standards and societal conventions, but this does not change the truth that the wickedness of our sins has been "great" from the "get go," Genesis 6:5. The hearts of those in rebellion from God are called "deceitful," in Hosea 10:2. I think it is very true that looking at the outside, we can see that many people appear to have good hearts. But as your question puts it, when God looks at the heart of that person, what does He really see? He sees their selfish rebellion against His authority over them as their Creator. He sees their pride in living for self and not for His glory. He does not see as we see. He looks to the true motives. He sees the heart as it is, not as it appears. It is a frightening thought, but we cannot run away from it because it scares us. We need to embrace the truth that outside of Christ, the heart of man is a wicked, vast cavern of blackest scum. It is desperately wicked.
Would God look at a heart, and finding it pure, let that person into Heaven? You bet He would, but outside of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no one who has fulfilled the requirements of living a holy sinless life in word, thought, and deed. It is through His obedience, His righteousness, imputed (given) unto us in regeneration, that we are viewed as holy and blameless before God the Father. We can and do have pure hearts, but it is only in Christ that we secure this. It is only in Christ that God can look at our hearts and see them as good.
Soli Deo Gloria,