What kind of Christian gets to go to heaven when he dies? We have already pointed out that Jesus is recorded as saying in Matthew 7:22-23 that "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out 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'". (NASB). We noted in our last article that Jesus is clearly rejecting everyone who calls Him Lord while depending upon what they have done to qualify them for heaven.
You can imagine the shock that will ripple through this crowd on that day as they stand before the One they, in this life, called Lord and hear Him say "Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness". How, and in what sense, is prophesying in the name of Jesus, casting out demons in the name of Jesus, and performing miracles in the name of Jesus, lawless?
The answer to that will lead us to the answer to our deeper question: who gets to go to heaven when he dies? So, let's consider the answer. According to the New Testament, there are two ways that one can use to approach the issue of qualifying for heaven. One way is to do your dead level best to keep the commandments of God and to restrain yourself from indulging in your less than godly passions (greed, lust, hedonism, drunkenness, etc.). But, this way leads only to the ultimate frustration of hearing Jesus say "Depart from Me...I never knew you." The other way is to come to grips with what it means it be incapable of doing everything right all the time in the face of the fact that God demands holiness of those who would enter His gates. Those who choose this way end up hearing Jesus say "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord."
Why is this? Why is it that Jesus saves sinners and rejects the righteous?
Well, He doesn't really. You see, there are no genuinely righteous. The Bible says "all have sinned" and "there is none righteous, no not one". So, what Jesus really does is reject one kind of sinner and accept another kind. He rejects the sinner who tries his hardest to qualify for heaven (because the arrogance of that approach only produces lawlessness) and He accepts the sinner who knows he cannot qualify by being good (because the humility that awareness produces yields the truly good). So, the answer to our question is that he gets to go to heaven who doesn't try to be good enough to go.
But it doesn't stay weird. God really has good reasons for keeping the performers out of heaven and letting the non-performers in. One of the most important of those reasons is that Jesus wants heaven to remain heaven and not turn into hell. That's what would happen if He let self-righteous do-gooders in.
How so? We'll look into that in the next article.