I grew up in a non-religious home. If we ever went to church it was to marry or bury. My theology was founded on a god after my own making with the understanding that if He’d leave me alone, I’d leave Him alone, and we’d figure out eternity whenever, if ever, we got there. (Shudder!)
Never really doubted there was a heaven. Tried not to think about the possibility of a hell. And, whenever the subject of heaven was brought up (usually in some sort of joke), the entrance to heaven almost invariably involved some sort of encounter or conversation at the pearly gates.
Yup, the pearly gates. They were the entrance point. Manned by either an angel or by “Saint Peter”, they were the checkpoint for all who might enter. And before them, a line of folks waiting to get in. Or, depending on the story, waiting to determine if they could get in.
But today, I’m more of the mind that the entrance to heaven isn’t in the clouds. That it’s determined long before any pearly gates are encountered (there’s actually twelve of them, I think (Rev. 21:21)). That to be absent from the body is, in fact, to be present with the Lord (2Cor. 5:8). Or not, depending on decisions made before being absent from the body.
So, if entrance to heaven isn’t the pearly gates, what is it? If the portal isn’t opened based on some sort of test you take in the clouds, then what is it based on? What did I read this morning that’s got me thinking along these lines?
Answer to all three questions? Something I’m chewing on this morning as I hover over Acts 14.
And when [Paul, Barnabas, & Co.] arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
(Acts 14:27 ESV)
A door of faith. That’s what God had opened up to the Gentiles through the gospel preaching ministry of Paul and Barnabas. A door of faith. That’s the entry point to the kingdom of heaven.
Accessed here and now. Available to all. No waiting.
A door of faith. The proclamation the portal. The subject the way of salvation. It’s access the way to adoption.
That’s the salvation power of the gospel. “The righteousness of God revealed from faith for faith” (Rom. 1:16-17).
A righteousness fit for heaven. A holiness compatible with the presence of God. A redemption reserved because someone walked through a door of faith.
Faith. A stake-my-life-on-it belief that God the Father sent God the Son to die on a cross to bear the punishment my rebellion against God deserved. To be the once forever atoning sacrifice my sin demanded. That the Son was buried but rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven, and sent God the Spirit to dwell in believers and testify of a door of faith. “That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).
. . . and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”
(Matthew 9:28b-29 ESV)
Thankful for a door of faith. Grateful for a God not content to leave me in my ignorance and self-made theology, but who led me to the door, and by His grace, gifted me the faith to walk through the door (Eph. 2:8).
Bring on the pearly gates . . . all twelve of them. My entrance into heaven is sure and secure because of a door of faith.
Opened by His grace. Entered for His glory.