Have you heard the joke about the man who died and went to heaven and met St Peter at the Pearly Gates?
St. Peter asked: "Joe, if you can answer one question, I'll let you into heaven."
Joe: "Sounds easy enough."
St. Peter: "Ok, who is with you always?"
Joe: "Oh, that's easy: Andy!"
St. Peter: "Andy?"
Joe: "Yeah, haven't you heard that hymn 'Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me?'"1
Even if you have never been in a church and don't know much about Christianity, you might be familiar with this idea of having to give an account of yourself at the gates of heaven in order to earn your way in. There are lots of jokes and cartoons about it.
Would you be surprised to know that that will never happen to anyone and is not a biblical concept at all?
First of all, the Apostle Peter being the gatekeeper of heaven is just a pious fiction.
However, the Bible does talk about heaven having twelve gates each made of a single pearl, so the "pearly gates" are there. Also, the Bible says the streets are made of gold.2
There is also a book – the Bible calls it the Lamb's Book of Life, but it doesn't record all your sins, it just records your name.3 If you have accepted the free grace of God [the undeserved gift of salvation and right-standing with God], your name is in the book.
People who accept Jesus as Lord of their lives and become Christians will never have to convince God of why they should gain admission into Glory. Their names are in the Lamb's Book of Life, their wrongdoings are washed away 4, and the Lord has prepared a place for them 5. They are a shoo-in, not because of what they have done, but because of what Jesus did for them.
Christians will never have to give an account of their sins. Their sins are separated from them as far as the east is from the west 6, and God remembers them no more 7.
The followers of God will, however, have their works judged with fire at the end of the age to determine their rewards 8. The Bible says that not the smallest act of kindness will go unrewarded in heaven 9.
On the other hand, those who have not accepted the invitation of God and the payment for their sins, will never get anywhere near the Pearly Gates.
At death their spirits go down to the fiery pit and at the end of the age they will stand before the God at the Great White throne judgement, and the Book of Life and another book, a record of their lives, will be opened. Then the dead whose names are not in the Book of Life will be judged according to their works and be punished for each and every sin they have ever committed 10. None of the good they have done will be able to save them because no sin, however small, can be allowed to pollute heaven. They will spend all eternity in hell.
Now that is no joking matter.•