Heaven

         They had formed a small mob, and were coming after me as fast as their little legs could go. Even though this incident took place in my pre-school years, I still remember running down the narrow sidewalk towards home, hollering as I went, “Mom! Open the door! They’re after me!” I can’t recall just what I did to stir up such an angry response from those pint-size kids; but, I do remember the wonderful feeling of relief when, just in the nick of time, mother swung the front door open just wide enough for me to zip through. Once I was safely in the embrace of home sweet home, she shut the door with a bang, leaving the disappointed would-be assassins dazed and confused on the porch. It was an epic moment.

      Perhaps this little episode can, in some small way, be illustrative of the profound relief, joy, and indescribable happiness that awaits those who find heaven’s door opened to them at the “appointed time.” We know from the Bible that heaven does have a door. The Apostle John wrote, “After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” Revelation 4:1. Flesh and blood cannot enter this door, but only those who are in the spirit, and those to whom it is opened. This door cannot be opened by man in spite of his best efforts for the keeper of this door is Jesus who declared, “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” Revelation 3:7b. Jesus is not only Heaven’s Doorkeeper, but He is the door. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” John 10:7b, 9.

      In a past article I related the true story of a man who thought he was saved, but, as his spirit began to leave his body he cried out in great anguish, “Open the door! Open the door!” It is beyond sobering to consider that as this man entered eternity, he actually saw heaven’s door, but it remained closed to him. Only heaven’s Doorkeeper can open the door, for all power has been given to Him in heaven and on earth. (See Matthew 28:18.) Consider what Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” John 17:1-3. [Emphasis added.] Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:21-23, is a warning we cannot afford to take lightly, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

      When I think about the “narrow squeak” I experienced as a little kid escaping my pursuers through the door’s narrow opening, I am reminded of 1 Peter 4:18, “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Truly, just the thought of the weeping, and wailing and gnashing of teeth for those to whom the door is shut on that great day of judgment should motivate us to not only examine ourselves before the Lord, but to do all within our power to win lost men, women and children to Christ. Yet, I daresay, as the day and hour approaches for the sudden appearing of our Lord, the question is what has happened to the once great wave of evangelistic endeavor of the Church? The emphasis has shifted from soul winning to soul “warming.” The great evangelistic wave that once swept through the early Church has been receding through the years, leaving in its wake willy-nilly ripples of sympathetic humanism and universalism. After all, we don’t want to rock the boat, insult people’s sensitive little psyches, or be politically incorrect. Besides, it is no fun being a “fool for Christ.”

     Since it is important to understand the meaning of humanism, and Universalism, here are the definitions of both: The definition of humanism is “any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate.” “Philosophy: A variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God.” (dictionary.reference.com). “Universalism is a doctrine that teaches all people will be saved. The main argument for Universalism is that a good and loving God would not condemn people to eternal torment in hell. Some Universalists believe that after a certain cleansing period, God will free the inhabitants of hell and reconcile them to himself. Others say that after death, people will have another opportunity to choose God. For some who adhere to Universalism, the doctrine also implies that there are many ways to get into heaven.” (christianity.about.com)

      Both humanism and Universalism fly in the face of biblical truth, yet people prefer the “feel good” false teachings that they promote. However, truth is truth and it will forever remain truth. Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” Matthew 7:13, 14. The gate, or door, to eternal life is narrow, and not only is it narrow, but it is hard to find. We also know that this narrow gate is the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 assures us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Both humanism and Universalism, along with every other religion and cult in the whole world, point to another gate, or door, that leads to a broad path ending in destruction. Broad paths are easy to find. They appeal to the flesh, and can be satisfying to the emotions. Broad paths are popular to the masses, offering the traditions of men, and the delusions of fallen angels. The gates that stand open to the broad path can be inviting, enticing, beguiling, alluring, compelling, and strangely sensational. The broad path appeals to a person’s pride, worldview and high opinion of self. It also offers a type of spiritualism that is “strange fire” to the Lord, but appeals to a lost soul’s need for “spiritual enlightenment” outside of the narrow boundaries and secure confines of God’s Word. Whichever door we choose to step through in order to pursue our goals in life, spiritually or physically is a decision that God leaves up to us. If we find ourselves on the broad path that leads to destruction, it will be because that is the door we chose to go through.

      In ancient Israel every item in both the Tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon’s temple pointed heavenward. The representations of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, heaven and redemption are found within and without. The magnificent doors in Solomon’s Temple make for a wonderful study. There are five components to the doors: five represents grace. These doors were made of olive wood which is the biblical symbol for Israel. Wood also represents humanity, depicting Jesus as fully man, as He is also fully God. Olive trees and olive oil represent light, divine blessing, peace, holy anointing, and separation to God.

      The doors were beautifully carved with cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers overlaid with pure gold. Cherubim, the second component, stand for mighty, blessing, and represent the righteous government of God, and are the executers of God’s judgment. Thus, Cherubim represent the judgment of God. Their position indicates that God’s judgment upon Israel was averted because of the blood-sprinkled mercy seat. The Cherubim are revealed by Ezekiel in chapter 1:5-10 as four living creatures, each one having four different faces, the face of a man, lion, ox, and eagle. These four faces are symbolic of Christ as the son of man, the lion of Judah, the burden bearer and sacrificial ox, and the One who reveals God’s perspective through the Holy Spirit. The four Gospels are also represented by these four “beasts.” (The lion, king of the wild beasts – Matthew, Jesus as King of kings; the ox, burden bearer and sacrifice – Mark, Jesus as our burden bearer, sacrificed for mankind; the Son of Man – Luke, Jesus, the Son of Man; the eagle, represents heavenly perspective – John, Jesus as the Son of God, Giver of the Holy Spirit.

      Thirdly, there were carved palm trees. Palm trees symbolize victory, triumph, peace, and eternal life. Jesus was victorious over death and the grave, triumphed over His enemies, and brought peace through reconciliation to God, and eternal life. Concerning victory, when He returns we have this powerful promise, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 25:8. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” 1 John 5:4. Concerning triumph, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” 2 Corinthians 2:14. Concerning peace, Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” Colossians 1:20.

      Finally, concerning eternal life, Jesus made plain the way to eternal life when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” John 14:6. The Door to eternal life is in Christ alone. Speaking of His sheep, Jesus said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” John 10:28. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23. “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” 1 John 2:25.

      When Jesus fulfilled prophecy and entered Jerusalem riding upon a colt, the foal of an ass, the people waved palm branches, and laid them before the Lord, knowing that the palm tree represented victory, triumph, peace and eternal life. To quote from www.christiancourier.com: “Some “paved” the road with their garments; others with layers of leaves, at least some of which were from palm trees (Jn. 12:13), hence the expression “Palm Sunday.” Spreading garments before a dignitary was a symbol of submission (see 2 Kgs. 9:13). Palm branches were employed also as token of victory (Suetonius, Caligula, 32). Some Jewish coins from the first century had palm leaf engravings with the accompanying inscription, “the redemption of Zion.” Note the “palm” symbolism that is portrayed in the book of Revelation (7:9). The Jewish disciples doubtless were expressing the hope that Jesus would be the one to lead them to victory over their oppressor (Rome).”

      Open flowers were the fourth subject engraved on the temple doors. Flowers, of course, represent fragrance, beauty, and denote purity, memory, knowledge of truth. Some interesting thoughts on these flowers are as follows: “The open-flower carvings are to show us that Jesus Christ is now our High Priest. Aaron’s rod that budded was physically used to show that Aaron and the House of Levi were chosen to be High Priests. The rod seems to be showing us a living tree, just as Messiah was the living tree in the Garden, the branch that made the water sweet at Marah, or the Tree of Life of Revelation 22:2. In Solomon’s Temple, Aaron’s rodis no longer in the Ark, symbolizing that the Levitical Priesthood would be replaced and that Jesus Christ is now our High Priest under the order of Melchisedek. This is why we also see the same word being used for the gold plate on the High Priest’s garments. It all ties together and points us toward Jesus Christ as our Lord and High Priest.” (http://www.ccg.org/english/c/cb112.html)

      Finally, the doors were overlaid with pure gold. Gold symbolizes Deity, purity, good, wisdom, intelligence, rare, precious, glorious and Holy to God. Job declared, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Jesus said, in Revelation 3:18, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich. . . .” Gold, in order to become pure, must go through a purifying process. If we are to be like Jesus, we will also go through a purifying process, a process that Peter spoke of when he wrote, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” 1 Peter 4:12, 13.

      The door of heaven!—who can truly say that he or she understands all the details of that glorious door? Nevertheless, the Bible makes it clear that there is only one way—a very narrow, hard to find way at that which leads to the door of eternal life; and, that way is only through Jesus Christ. Some may wrongly believe that the door to heaven is forever open to every soul, whether good, bad or indifferent. Some may think that the door to heaven is like a swinging door, easy to access. Others may think that the door to heaven is like a revolving door—all you have to do is step inside and follow whoever seems to be in the lead. However, the Word of God makes it clear that God is the Doorkeeper, the Lord Jesus Christ holds the key, and whatever door He closes, no man can open.

      When God closes the door, or bars an entrance, it is forever closed. We are given three poignant examples of this fact: 1) Genesis 3:23, 24, “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” 2) Genesis 7:13,16, “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; And they went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” 3) Matthew 25:10-13, “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” [Emphasis added.]

      There is a door to heaven, glorious to behold—a celestial gate, a glorious gate, a door of royal gold. Oh! Who can enter through this door—who can be assured—of manifold, blessings, joy and peace—of eternal life procured? There is only One—(the Bible tells us true)—One who is worthy the door to open—the One who died for you. So, tell me friend—what is your choice—it is up to you to choose—enter through the narrow gate—or your soul eternally lose.