Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because
they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:18 (NIV)
Will everyone go to heaven after they die? Most people desperately hope so. But how can we know for sure?
The question of who goes to heaven isn’t an easy issue to address. Emotions run high when we talk about death and the hereafter. But the question can’t be ignored and it shouldn’t be left in the realm of speculation. In essence the Scriptures teach:
- Repentance, faith and forgiveness are prerequisites for anyone wanting to go to heaven. Luke 13:3 says, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
- All roads don’t lead to heaven. There’s only one way to get to heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6. Thus, a spiritual birth is essential in order to enter heaven. John 3:3 says, “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 1:12 adds, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
- Those who haven’t had a true conversion experience (i.e. saved through faith in Jesus Christ cf. Ephesians 2:8) will be judged, punished and sent to hell. While heaven is the place of eternal conscious joy, hell is the place of eternal conscious torment. “Man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment” Hebrews 9:27. “God . . . will punish those who do not know (Him) and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord . . .” 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.
According to God’s Word then, not everyone goes to heaven. This position is neither bigoted nor exclusive. God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” 1 Timothy 2:4. That places the responsibility for going to heaven in your hands. You must choose. If you place your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour you’re guaranteed a place in heaven but if you default, i.e. refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour, you’re guaranteed a place in hell (cf. John 3:18).
So where are you going when you die? The person who goes to heaven is the person who travels with Jesus . . .