Can non-Christians go to Heaven?

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by Blake Bowden, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    Found this post. Thoughts??

    ________


    Michael A. Covington – Beech Haven Baptist Church – November 28, 1999 (minor update 2010)

    1. Some preliminaries

    a. No matter what provision God has made for people who never hear the Gospel, you are not one of them. (If you’re looking for an excuse, look somewhere else!)

    b. Jesus clearly tells us to spread the Gospel. If we adopt beliefs that imply that evangelism is unnecessary, we’ve made a mistake somewhere.

    c. Hell is not the punishment for failing to accept Christ as Saviour. It is the punishment for sins you committed long before you heard of Christ.

    d. God does not owe anyone salvation. It is an undeserved gift that he can give, or refrain from giving, as He wishes.

    e. Do we want to say something that "sounds nice" about non-Christians, or do we actually have some facts about how a person can be reconciled to God? If the latter, then we need to follow those facts, whether or not other people like them.

    2. How does anybody go to Heaven?

    a. Because of our sins, we are separated from God and doomed to spend eternity separated from Him. This is the condition of all human beings, not just some of them.

    b. To get to Heaven (i.e., to enjoy eternity with God), we need our sins forgiven.

    c. It’s not enough for God just to want to forgive us; something objective had to be done to cancel our sins.

    The details of what was done, and how it works, are a sacred mystery. Nothing quite like it has ever happened anywhere else.
    Whatever it was, it was accomplished by the death of Jesus on the cross.
    The nearest we can get to understanding it is to say that Jesus took the penalty for our sins – died our well-deserved death – so that we can live eternally.
    d. We must accept salvation; it is not applied to us automatically. We return to God voluntarily.

    e. We get to Heaven by the merits of Jesus Christ, not by our own good works.

    A life of good works may indicate good will, i.e., willingness to accept Christ’s salvation. (Or it may indicate an attempt to work around Christ.)
    We are saved by grace (undeserved favor), not by good deeds, nor by religious activity or piety.
    3. Which non-Christians go to Heaven, if any? Situations to consider:

    a. Universalism: God loves everybody and saves everybody, whether they cooperate with Him or not.

    Objection 1: Then why evangelize?

    Objection 2: If God gave people the freedom to reject Him, why would he take it away again? If He planned to take it away, it isn’t really freedom.

    b. People who cannot hear or respond to the Gospel.

    0. Those who knew God but died in Old Testament times.

    They are saved by Christ, same as us. Noah, Abraham, etc., are Christ’s firstfruits. The whole Epistle to the Hebrews is about this.
    1. Those who die as infants or are severely mentally deficient.

    The Bible says little or nothing, but most Protestants believe that such people are not fully accountable for sin, and hence are not separated from God in the first place.
    Catholics believe that they have inherited sin from Adam and will spend eternity in a state called limbo ("the edge"), where they lack the joys of Heaven but are not punished for sin.
    2. Those to whom the Gospel is never preached, or who, due to prior prejudice or misinformation, are unable to understand it when they hear it.

    Be careful what you say about this case.
    "God wouldn’t punish them for rejecting Christ" – no, He never punishes you for rejecting Christ. He punishes you for your own sins, not the sins you have not hat the opportunity to commit, and that’s quite enough!
    "God will save everybody who has no opportunity to choose whether to accept Christ" – well, then, let’s arrange for Christianity to die out, so then nobody will hear the Gospel and everybody will be saved!
    See also the next 2 cases.
    3. Those who live a life of good works while practicing some other religion (or none).

    Remember that good works do not save you. Enough said. But see the next case:

    4. Those who seek God’s mercy while practicing some other religion (or none).

    This is the interesting case.

    Two clear Biblical teachings:

    1. Salvation is made possible by the death of Christ on the cross. Apart from Christ and what he did, there is no salvation. (Acts 4:12, John 14:6; Lk 10:22)

    2. Non-Christians can, at least in principle, perceive God’s righteousness and their need for His mercy. (Romans 1:18-20, 2:14-16; Acts 17:28)

    Whatever we conclude will need to be faithful to both of these teachings.

    My opinion is the following (and you are welcome to disagree):

    a. It is possible for a non-Christian to realize his need for God’s mercy and seek it.

    (Note: Although I think this is possible, I do not think it happens routinely. Missionaries report finding occasional cases of it.)

    b. In my opinion, God will not turn away people who seek His mercy, even if their understanding of Him is vague and they lack historical knowledge of Christ. (Some of God’s people in the Old Testament knew little about Him and His works; one example appears to be Melchisedek.)

    — Such a person is talking to God (Christ), whether he realizes it or not, because there is nobody else up there to listen! Let us take seriously the fact that only one God actually exists.

    — If and when this happens, it is at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the same as anyone else turning to Christ.

    c. We should never rely on Christ to save people who have not heard the Gospel. We have our marching orders.

    d. The Bible gives no statistics on how many people go to Hell. It does, however, clearly teach that it is possible to do so, and that evangelism is urgently needed.

    Bottom line: Non-Christians don't get to Heaven, but some people may become Christians in unusual ways, without the usual kind of help from the Church.
     
  2. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    I don't believe that for a second. Their religion teaches them how to get to heaven, same as ours.
     
  3. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    Heaven is not something all religions share. Allot of religions believe in reincarnation till we all are good enough to be in the presence of God. This article exemplifies why I chose to follow my own path and not get involved in major religions. Heaven and Hell in modern times has become a marketing tool in most religions. I have heard people say why would you take the chance of not being Christian and this has always baffled me beyond words. I tell them that if that is the best you got I will see you on the other side and we will talk then and their.
     
  4. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    fixed?
     
  5. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    I could not say for sure it has always been that way or was its intended purpose but it sure seems that way with the message being broadcast by most religions.
     
  6. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Why not? We all seem to spend time equally creating hell for ourselves...why should heaven be different?
     
  7. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    I found the list of conditions above to be simply too numerous to accept as being from God to man. Only man, with all his foibles, can make anything so complicated. Personally, I am a Christian, always have been. I don't subscribe to a "conditional" God, one who expects a long list of obligations from man before he'll even consider letting us into heaven. The reason I think these demands are from man is because of my flat screen HD television and my DVD player instructions that make it possible to watch a movie (as long as there's no blackout). The more complicated something is; the more likely it has the hand of man in it.

    Nope. I've always felt that God wants me to be happy. He wants me to lead a good life, keep His commandments and love my fellow man (or at least try to get along). He gave us His Son that we could be spared the agony of our shortcomings. If we recognize that and follow the essentials, God tells me I'll be alright. It's not complicated. The complicated stuff's already been looked after by the Lord and His Son. He walks with me through life and gets me by the tough spots. My part is pretty simple.

    In the final analysis, God's a really great and understanding guy and will accept anyone who follows His simple rules regardless of religion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  8. Jay

    Jay Registered User

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    Thank You Brother PeterLT, That was so well said...THANK YOU
     
  9. ljlinson1206

    ljlinson1206 Premium Member Premium Member

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    DEEP subject guys. I tend to believe that God is far more simple and easily accessable than most people think. And as far as getting to heaven. Live life in the sevice of man by simply following the "Golden Rule", and you will get there. Just be kind and treat others as you would want to be treated. Just my humble opinion.
     
  10. Preston DuBose

    Preston DuBose Registered User

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    Woah! This is definitely a deep topic.

    I believe that it is important to approach the matter of salvation and God's will with the utmost humility. It is far beyond our ability or understanding to put limits on God's will. God can offer grace to anyone at any time. Dictating otherwise would be the utmost hubris.

    HOWEVER, as a Christian, an article of my faith is that following Christ leads to salvation. Regardless of what other paths to salvation may or may not exist, we Christians believe that there is a clear (albeit at times difficult) path laid out for us by Christ. For us, Christianity is a "sure thing" compared to our understanding of other forms of salvation. As the original post noted, we Christians have our marching orders.
     
  11. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    This may be a stupid answer, but I am in heaven. We are all in heaven.

    I can't attest for what I don't know. Sure, I can have faith in something, but I don't KNOW. Therefore, where I am at now, what I am doing, who I am with; this all is my heaven. This is the time I have been given and I'll be damned (speaking of hell) if I am not going to make the most of it. I will make life for myself, my family, and others as wonderful as I can. I will teach and promote ideals that bring heaven to others on earth. Others may choose to make a hell for themselves. I feel for them.

    From this point of view, it is easy to see why the bible describes God as Love. The two are inseparable. Without love, there is no joy, peace, Heaven. How can we be scientifically described differently than other beasts without love?

    Esoteric?
     
  12. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    It is my belief, although I may be alone on this one, that God gave us great unanswerable esoteric questions such as the one being discussed on this forum because after a long work week He was bored on the 7th day and wanted to have a little fun. "Look at'em racking their brains....ha ha ha ha."

    Peter
     
  13. Seeker

    Seeker Registered User

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    I would like to jump in and stir the pot a little in regards to this discussion. I tend to agree with PeterLT that Deity does present us with great esoteric questions that are not always easily answered. If God made everything cut and dry, straight forward, and unquestionable, then we would more than likely just take it for granted like we do so many things in life (relationships,health,professions,etc.). It seems that Deity always leaves us just enough light for us to take one more step in His direction. Is this constant searching what keeps us closer to God? I definitely feel the question of who makes it to heaven fits in along these lines, who can honestly answer with utmost certainty? Proverbs 25:2 - "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out." We should all be tolerant of each others beliefs about the afterlife and strive towards "heaven on earth." Deity alone will be the great judge we all stand before when it is all finished and the working tools of life fall from our nerveless grasps. Even so, we all have our beliefs about heaven and who will be admitted, and I shall end this post with mine. It can pretty much be summed up with a verse of scripture from the Great Light in Masonry. "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe." -1st Timothy 4:10
     
  14. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    Very well put.
     
  15. MacFie

    MacFie Registered User

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    "O Patrick," said Oisin, "show me the place where Finn and his people are, and there is not a hell or a heaven there but I will put it down. And if Osgar, my own son, is there," he said, "the hero that was bravest in heavy battles, there is not in hell or in the Heaven of God a troop so great that he could not destroy it." "You say that a generous man never goes to the hell of pain; there was not one among the Fianna that was not generous to all. Ask of God, Patrick, does He remember when the Fianna were alive, or has He seen east or west any man better than themselves in their fighting. The Fianna used not to be saying treachery; we never had the name of telling lies. By truth and the strength of our hands we came safe out of every battle. There never sat a priest in a church, though you think it sweet to be singing psalms, was better to his word than the Fianna, or more generous than Finn himself.

    Such different thinkings I believe are why we don't discuss religion and the such in the Blue Lodge
     
  16. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    I'm with you my Brother,

    Esoteric -- YES! The following confirms this:

    [SIZE=+1]113[/SIZE] His disciples said to Him: "When will the Kingdom come?" Jesus said : "It does not come by expecting it. It will not be a matter of saying: 'See, it is here!' or : 'Look, it is there!'. Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread over the earth and men do not see it. -- Gospel According to Thomas

    Here's some more:
    • WE do not come here from somewhere else. ​
    • WE do not leave here for somewhere else. ​
    • WE have always been here. This is all that there is (but "this" is invisible to the majority!) ​
    When one understands these statements and what WE are and what "this" is, all this makes sense. ​


    Until such time, WE look for something that is right before us but WE cannot and, perhaps sometimes, will not see it. When such a reality exists, WE accept a substitute until such time that WE do understand.

    Sound familiar?

    IMO

    Bro. Coach N
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  17. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    If you really do have faith, real faith, then you do know.
     
  18. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    PeterLT, , faith is defined as a confidence in something not based on proof. Proof, however in the case of faith, is VERY subjective to the observer.

    What one may see as proof, another sees as coincidence. Often times, when someone points out, "real faith", such as you have, it usually comes undefined. It's like saying, "if you really really really believe, then it will happen."

    The inferred meaning of "real faith" in nearly every instance of its use is "faith without a shadow of a doubt." For how can one have "real faith" (in this definition) coexist with doubt?
     
  19. PeterLT

    PeterLT Premium Member

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    Your points are well taken and I do agree with you, if we are talking about the Space Shuttle. I have faith that it will fire and blast off into space but there is always a lingering doubt as it may fail. Without going into semantics, the faith I speak of is in God. True faith in a deity must, of necessity, be all encompassing and without doubt. Either the GAOTU is, or He is not. If there is any doubt, then the Deity adopts the same status as a soda machine, I have faith that I'll get a Coke if I put a buck in, but I may not if it's busted. Hence any and all claims of a "Supreme" being become meaningless.

    Doubt has no place in true faith. It does however in "expectations".
     
  20. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    (I just now noticed my poor grammar when you quoted me)

    I like your last sentence especially. This goes back to how we as individuals define God and the nature of God. Often, they are mere expectations.

    As a spiritual person, I understand and agree with what you're saying. As an engineer however, one must leave room for questions in the vacuum of an idea lacking provable evidence to support it.

    While I profess a belief in Deity, the nature of Deity is highly circumstantial and subjective. I might have faith in this or that but will have to wait the time with patience.
     

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