WHO WILL GO TO HEAVEN?
The general opinion in our days concerning those who have departed, is that they are going to "a better place, or that they are in heaven now and thank goodness their suffering is over." But what about their faith, what type of life did they lead, and what works they have they done for the Lord’s sake? We do not seeking answers for those who have departed as they are in God’s hands; may he have mercy upon them. But these questions really concern the living, especially who will go to heaven? This question is of great importance to all of us, who are still living, and it is better that they be resolved before we leave this world. The Lord has something to say about this question. Do the majority of people enter the heavenly realm and gain eternal life with the Lord?
This is the most important question in our lives. For we are here for a very brief period of time, while the next life is endless, and in the future life we will either be with God or separated from Him forever, miserable and wretched, wishing that we had never been born. The Lord says: “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Jesus Christ is the Ruler of heaven and earth. Jesus Christ is the only Judge of all men; He will deem them worthy of either the kingdom of heaven or eternal punishment. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Will most people go to the Kingdom of heaven? First He tells us who are excluded.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” With these words, Jesus here excludes all those who do not come to the Father through Him. Will most people go to heaven? Christ answers:
“Enter in at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be who go that way, because narrow is the way and restricted is the way which leads to life, and few there be who find it” (Mat. 7:13-14)
THE CHURCH REMAINS AS CHRIST PROMISED
The Logos of God, was born of the Virgin, almost two-thousand years ago. He was seen on earth for about thirty-three years and ascended to heaven. He founded His one Church on earth. When Peter confessed Him to be “the Christ, Son of the Living God”, Christ blessed Peter, because this was revealed to him by the Father, but He built His Church on Peter’s confession. The fundamental law of the Church of Christ, is that to become a member one must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. The Church founded by Christ, and headed by Christ is the Orthodox Church, wherein is to be found salvation and is the way to heaven. Without this Church salvation is not accessible. Christ and the Apostles speak of one Church and St. Paul says of this Church: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in the one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph.4:4-6).
Concerning the Church, St. Paul says: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to feed the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28)
BAPTISM, THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE EUCHARIST
Jesus commands triune baptism, which is found only in His Church. Jesus promised the gift of Holy Spirit, which is available only in His Church. Jesus warned: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you,” which is found only in His Church. In His Church alone does God marry husband and wife. Only in His Church will memorials be held when you depart from this life. Only in His Church is the Body and Blood of Christ.
HONOR DUE CHRIST’S MOTHER AND HIS SAINTS
Jesus Christ kept every commandment, especially “honor your father and mother that your days may be long on earth.” Jesus greatly loved His Mother the Ever-Virgin Mary. As God He preserved her virginity, and she remained a virgin, before, during and after giving birth, she also lived an ascetic life all of her days. She is honored far above heaven and earth, more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim. She is spoken of in the Book of Psalms: “The Queen stood at your right hand!” Christ honored and glorified His blessed Mother. The Holy Apostle did the same. All the Fathers and the Church for close to two thousand years. Orthodoxy honor her because she is truly the Queen of all. Whoever degrades or insults her, degrades and insults our Lord whom she bore in the flesh. “As you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did to me,” Whoever insults the Mother of Christ and His Saints, will be excluded.
Who will go to heaven? Those who have complete faith in Christ, learn by being catechized and baptized into His Church, who receive the seal of the gift of Holy Spirit, and those who eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ. Strengthened with such great help, those who desire heaven, must become familiar with all the commandments of Christ keeping every one, for Christ warns: “If you break one the least, you break them all.” Then a life of prayer and fasting , struggling against sins and passions. Frequent attendance at Divine Liturgy, receiving the sacred Mysteries, honoring His Mother and His Saints, loving everything that Christ loves and hating everything that Christ hates. Those who do this will be on the right track leading to heaven. It is not easy but it is possible, and the Lord will generously come to our help if we remain faithful and do our very part. Who will go to heaven? Those “who love God with all their hearts, with all their soul, and with all their strength, and with all their minds, and their neighbors as themselves” (Luke 10:27).