Everybody Talkin’ ‘Bout Heaven Ain’t Goin’ There


Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch

A statement by Jesus that engages and holds my attention appears near the end of the Sermon on the Mount. He says:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil- doers.’”

When Jesus speaks of “that day” he means the day of final judgment. In the New Testament this end-times references is called “the day of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6,10).

In this passage, Jesus, the young prophet, leader of a dozen men, tells us that at the end of history there will be a final judgment and on that day he will know the hearts of all men, and will have power to pronounce eternal banishment from the heavenly kingdom for some, saying: “I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers.”

Particularly surprising is the unexpected rejection of one class of believers who claimed to have done great, even miraculous, ministries in his name: “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”

Instead, there will be only one category who will be received into the kingdom of heaven. It will be those “who (do) the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Obedience is the key. That is, the heart’s obedience to the Father’s will, rather than general and especially self-directed service or accomplishment. That will be the fundamental criterion for anyone’s acceptance into heaven. To explain why that first group will be rejected for heaven, Jesus makes clear that in “that day” performance, even dramatic religious performance like the casting out of demons in the Lord’s name, will not be enough.

This issue of heart obedience is addressed repeatedly in Scripture. Isaiah said of a very religious generation, “These people come near me with their mouth / and honor me with their lips, / but their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13). In the closing hours of his earthly life, Jesus said to his closest followers, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23).

In both Testaments, the bearing of the heart is the big issue. Even working wonders in Christ’s name will not count if the heart has not been open to the Father.

There’s a line in a well-known Negro spiritual that likely was inspired by these words of Jesus about the judgment: “Everybody talkin’ ’bout heaven ain’t agoin’ there – O my Lord.” This should awaken us to examine the quality of our obedience to the Father — above all else.

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3 thoughts on “Everybody Talkin’ ‘Bout Heaven Ain’t Goin’ There

  1. Bishop Bastian, you have laid out a tough truth. No doubt about it, it is just as much truth as “God is love.” In any case it makes me wonder if my obedience measures up. Blessings, Roy

  2. Reading this weeks important ‘Just Call Me Pastor’ carefully ,considering and thinking about it, I’m understanding that Hearts Obedience , that special full hearted obedience to His Will and Way is what the Lord requires in us to be full human beings living in the beauty of His Holiness.

    I’ve been thinking long and hard about this and I think Jesus’s First Commanment is the key here.

    “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37 NIV

    Only through achieving that full whole true love of the Lord ,can we hope to be truly obedient to our Lord’s Will.Isn’t that what Jesus is saying in John’s Gospel ?

    “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23)

    We’re back to that important scriptural message of 1 Corinthians 13:2

    ‘’ If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing’’ Cor 13:3 NIV

    Love is sufficient.It always seems to come back to Jesus’s two great commandments.These two great commandments of Jesus are the most wonderful gift to us.They form the basis of all we need for a good life and good death ,I believe.

    I too like talkin’ ‘bout Heaven.But above all,since not to be there means separation from God , I want to go there.Or put another way ,above all I want inclusion with God,to be with Him.It’s essential.

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