Monday, July 7, 2014

Do All Dogs Go to Heaven?

     In 1989, Don Bluth created a movie entitled "All Dogs Go to Heaven".  This is a story of a rather shady dog named Charlie and his dachshund buddy Itchy.  Unfortunately, Charlie is murdered by an associate of Itchy's named Carface.  Despite his bad deeds, Charlie goes to heaven where he steals his life watch back and returns again to earth.  Unknown to him, when the life watch runs down again, he will be cast into Hell since he gave up his status in heaven.
Our old basset hound Roscoe and our granddog Beau
 Charlie meets an orphan girl whom he befriends to use her ability to talk to animals and thus win money for races they are in.  He does not really care what happens to her until the end of the story where she nearly drowns.  He sacrifices his own life to save her but loses his life watch.  However, an angel comes and takes him to heaven once more since he helped the little girl.  Carface, the villain, also goes to heaven when he dies despite his unrepentant life of dirty tricks.  Hence, the name of the movie, "All Dogs Go to Heaven".  In reality though, according to the Christian faith, not all go to heaven and none can return to have a second chance.
     Scripture teaches us in Hebrews 9:27:  " is appointed for man to die once, and after this comes judgment..."  There is no mention in God's Word  telling us that we can return to earth for any do-overs.  Furthermore, we are told clearly that the only door into the sheepfold of heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Unless we are found in Him through faith, we cannot enter heaven.
     In the letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear that we are all sinners and under condemnation before the Lord.  Romans 3:23 says:  "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  However, the remedy to this fatal sin nature is life in Jesus Christ.  Romans 6:23 tells us, "For the wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  This is how we can enter eternal life in heaven by repenting of our sins and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation.
     Unlike Charlie, in the movie, we do not get into heaven because we have done any good deeds which makes us worthy recipients of eternal life.  The Apostle Paul made that clear in his letter to the believers at Ephesus when he writes:  "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).  God grants us not only His grace but also the faith with which to believe.  In verses 4 and 5 of this same letter, Paul tells us:  "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ..."   
      From start to finish then, it is God who awakens us from the death of our sin nature, and gives to us the faith to believe in the salvation bought for us through the sacrifice of His Son for our sins.  This is Good News!  Will all believe?  No, and certainly those who are unrepentant will die in their sins.  For them, there will be justice which awaits.  This place reserved for those who reject God is called Hell.  Jesus mentioned Hell or a place of eternal torment nearly 46 times in His ministry.
     Hell was meant for the devil and his angels, but all who reject the message of salvation in Jesus Christ will join them in this place of separation from God.  It is a place of judgment, wrath, fire, torment, weeping, gnashing of teeth where there is no comfort day or night.  Quite often, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus alludes to this place as He teaches the kingdom principles of living:
Matthew 5:22, 29-30; Matthew 7:19, Matthew 8:12 and 10:28.  Mark 9:43-48 also paints a bleak picture of the eternal punishment awaiting those who do not believe.
     Jesus warned us and told us plainly about Hell, but today, there are many who do not choose to preach on this subject.  It is a real place, and one that we should not want anyone to enter.  Therefore, we have a ministry to friends, neighbors, family to tell them about Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished for us.  While God is love, He is also a God of judgment, wrath and justice who will punish those who are unrepentant.  To some God grants mercy, but to others, God brings justice.  This is why it is so important that we tell others the Good News.
     Unlike Rob Bell in his book "Love Wins", I do not believe that all will be saved in the end.  All dogs do not go to heaven, but all need to hear the message of salvation that some might come to Him.  Those who are God's chosen will respond when He calls.  Our job is not to judge others, but to present the truth of God's only means of salvation - Jesus Christ.  There is no other way to heaven (John 14:6).  Let us be faithful so that no one misses the opportunity to enter eternal rest in heaven when they die.  Then, let us pray and leave the results to God.  Selah!

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