An old spiritual warns, “Everybody talkin’ ’bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.” Since heaven is God’s dwelling place where His presence and glory are manifested in all their splendor, He has the sovereign right to determine who will be admitted and under what conditions. Any other beliefs about the how and why of admission into heaven are sadly mistaken.
Take, for example, the confidence expressed by a well-known actress. Questioned about her faith, she replied, “I pray. I read the Bible. It’s the most beautiful book ever written. I should go to heaven; otherwise it’s not nice. I haven’t done anything wrong. My conscience is very clean. My soul is as white as those orchids over there, and I should go straight, straight to heaven.”
God alone determines who goes straight to heaven. In the Bible, God’s holy Word, He tells us that only those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior will be admitted. The apostle Peter said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Self-judgment regarding the purity of one’s soul and one’s heaven-deserving character is not the criterion. Only God’s Word gives us the standard for admission.
I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss. —Pounds
Christ believed is salvation received and heaven gained.