Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Stump The Pastor: “What if someone truly never heard about the Bible or Christ, etc. When they die will God accept them into Heaven?”

Quite often I hear people ask whether there will be Jews, or Muslims, or Sikhs, or Hindus, or Pagans in heaven. Just last week I was asked, “what if someone truly never heard about the Bible or Christ, etc. When they die will God accept them into Heaven?”

As you read this, I want to make sure that you know my ethnic and spiritual background: {1} ethnically I am Jewish, {2} I was raised as an atheist, and {3} in my childhood I had many friends who are ethnic and cultural (not theological) Jews, Muslims, Taoists and/or Pagans. My friends and I were raised as atheists and were taught from childhood that there is no God.

The conservative side of me wants to say “NO,” in order to be in Heaven the person has to personally accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. On the other hand, the liberal side of me yearns to see all my friends and family, and hopes that ALL God’s children will be welcomed in Heaven.

Truth be told, I am not comfortable with either of these answers. I know many loving, caring, sincere individuals who strive to know God as they understand God, who follow their God according to what they discern as God’s will and hope for their lives, who pray earnestly and regularly, and who conscientiously try to do what is right, merciful and just. As a follower of Jesus and as a believer, I take it on faith that God formed these persons in their mothers’ wombs (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13), that God knows their names (Isaiah 43:1-2,7), and that God loves them, watches over them, hears their prayers and forgives them their trespasses as God forgives ours (Luke 23:34).

Jesus who reached out to me, loved me and called me to follow Him would not stand idly, watching all these men and women (His Creation) perish. That is why I think that they will be given a choice to accept God in the first moments after passing through the threshold of life and death and welcomed into God’s presence.

Before you start throwing rotten eggs in my general direction, I want to share another thought. I know some persons who resist God all of their lives and in most of their actions, who do not live lives of love, who gossip, who do not do what is just or merciful, who are conceited and live all their lives as if they are the center of the universe. I also believe Heaven to be a place where God’s will is perfectly done because ALL who are there yield to God’s will, as well as respect and love others and put the needs of others above their own.

The only way people who resist God could survive in a place like Heaven is if God removed their free will to resist God, and God that I know would not do that. That is why there is a place called Hell; that is where souls who continually resist God can go to get away from God’s love, care and presence.

I want to conclude with a reference to an interview given by Rev. Billy Graham. At the age of 87 he was asked whether those who belong to religions other than Christianity (Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs among others) will be saved. He replied, “Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there [in heaven] and who won’t. … I don’t want to speculate about that. I don’t want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his Son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have” (Newsweek).

May God’s mercy, kindness, love, justice and freedom envelop and welcome all who yearn to be in God’s presence and welcomes them there.

Philos,

Asher

Bibliography

Newsweek. Newswire.com; Newsweek Cover: Billy Graham in Twilight. n.d. 07 08 2012 <http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/newsweek-cover-billy-graham-in-twilight-55957107.html&gt;.

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