This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4
My story begins with a lady who died and found herself on the outside of the pearly gates of paradise.
Through the bars she could see a beautiful banquet buffet and, at the banquet table, many of her beloved and believing friends and family members who had gone on before her. Wanting to join them she asked St. Peter, "What do I have to do to gain admittance?"
St. Peter replied: "All you have to do is spell the word 'love.'"
Very slowly and carefully, Virginia spelled "L-O-V-E." (Although Christians know it is only through the merit and blood of Jesus that we get into heaven, in this story the doors slowly opened, and she went in.)
Sometime later Virginia was asked to serve at that same gate while St. Peter went to a meeting. That's when her rapscallion of an earthly husband showed up. She politely asked how his life had been going.
He told her, "Well, actually, things have been going famously. Honey, do you recall that attractive nurse who was taking care of you before you died? Well, we fell in love and got married shortly after you passed away. Right after that I won a $75 million lottery. We sold our dump of a home, moved into a mansion, and toured the world." After answering Virginia's question, the ex-husband asked, "Tell me, how do I get in?"
Virginia said, "All you have to do is spell one word ... and that one word is 'Czechoslovakia.'"
Now, having told that story, there are a number of things I am obliged to say:
* First, you aren't getting to heaven by anything you do. The only way to heaven is by having faith in Jesus who has redeemed you, bought you back from sin, death and devil.
* I also don't want you to think God lets angels or anybody else determine who's coming into paradise. That power He reserves for Himself.
* Finally, I don't want you to think there is going to be a test when you die. No, the time to be given faith is while you are here on earth.
So what's the point of the story?
Simply this: if you and I were the gatekeepers to heaven, there might be someone whom we, like Virginia, might not want to see walk through those pearly gates. Think about it for a minute. Isn't there somebody you know to whom you wouldn't give a mansion in heaven? Maybe you know a bunch of somebodies whom you think ought to be kept on the other side of the pearly gates.
Well, if you can think of such a person that is because you and I are not as all-gracious as is the God of grace. Our love is not as far-reaching and all-encompassing as is that of the Lord of life. Scripture is clear: God would have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. There are no exceptions to God's grace. There is no race so unredeemable, no nation so malicious and malevolent, no people so pitiful, no individual so immoral and mean -- as to fall outside the loop of the Lord's love.
God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God has no trick questions, no hidden clauses, no fine print, nor does He practice any kind of bait and switch. God is straightforward. He wants everybody in heaven. To get everybody there is why He sent His only Son into this world to save them. What I'm trying to say is this: you can be certain God would have all men to be saved.
And you and I are included in that word, "all."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that because of Jesus there is a home in heaven for me and all the other sinners like me. In Jesus I give thanks. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries