As our world grows smaller, we have increasing contact with people and cultures of non-Christian religions. A question that sometimes arises is whether non-Christians can go to heaven.
When someone asked Him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were of the “wrong” religion, neither Jewish nor Christian. Jews and Samaritans generally had no dealings with each other, distrusting and even hating each other. But this Samaritan had great compassion on a Jew who had been badly beaten up by robbers. He spent considerable time, effort and money to help the victim recover. Jesus finished, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)Over and over Jesus taught that going to heaven is not simply about what we believe but also how we live. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Heaven consists in two things: believing in God, and following God. People of many religions all over the world do these two things. People call God by various names, such as Allah, the Great Spirit, the Higher Power, or other names. If they refrain from doing evil to their neighbors because it is against God as they know Him, they do it from a spiritual motive, not just a selfish, worldly motive. The kingdom of God is within them. (See Luke 17:21)
There is great blessing in being a Christian, having the New Testament as well as the Old Testament and knowing in a personal way who God is: the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is also good to think of the billions of people who have not yet had the opportunity to hear the Lord’s Word, whom He is also leading to heaven, according to the truths that they have in their religions. To the extent that, because of their religion, they show kindness to their neighbors, Jesus’ saying applies to them: “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
May we show mercy to our neighbors as the Lord teaches us.
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Beginning on Saturday, September 29, and continuing through Sunday, October, 29, Kempton New Church will be running a stand offering homemade soup, sandwiches, pie, apples, cider and other food and drink. We call it “Autumn Weekends.” It is open from 11:00 till 6:00. It is designed to serve people going up to Hawk Mountain and others out to enjoy the beautiful October weather. Stop by for lunch, or take home enough that you don’t have to cook supper. And you are welcome to try the spiritual food at services on Sunday mornings at 10:00, and on the website at KemptonNewChurch.org.
Rev. Lawson M. Smith