You would think the answer to the question posed in today’s message title would be a resounding, “NO! Of course not!” However, considering that we are all sinners from birth, I (for one) am hoping that the answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.
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We all know that God gave us commandments through Moses which he wants us to obey. These commandments are fairly simple for us to understand: there are some just for women, some just for the members of the Priesthood (whether Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor, Chaplain, or whatever), and the rest are for everyone. Traditional Christian teaching has reduced the number of these commandments significantly, in that it has identified some laws which they classify as only for Jews, others as “ceremonial”, and then there are the ones they agree they should obey which they label as “moral” laws.
Overall, pretty much everyone agrees that we are sinners and that iniquity (the innate desire to sin) exists within us from birth. Even within Judaism, we have the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination we are born with) and the Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination), which doesn’t come to fruition within us until we are old enough to study and understand the Torah and the Talmud.
Understanding this, let’s go back to the original question: “Can sinners go to heaven?” Sorry to say, the answer is still “No!”
However, God has made salvation available to us through the sacrificial system, which allows us to be forgiven of our sins. And the ultimate sacrifice, the last one which provides forgiveness throughout all time, is the sacrifice of Yeshua ha Maschiach (Yeshua the Messiah), which is available to us despite the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem (the place where the sin sacrifice must be presented) no longer exists.
So, when we take into consideration the sacrifice of Yeshua, the answer to our title question changes to, “Yes- sinners can go to heaven, so long as they have been forgiven through their acceptance of Yeshua as their Messiah.”
But wait a minute!! There is a missing piece to the puzzle we haven’t discussed, but it is the keystone for salvation: acceptance of Yeshua is necessary, asking forgiveness for each and every sin is necessary (there is no such thing as Once Forgiven, Always Forgiven- I have written about that a few times), but none of this works without true repentance.
Repentance is an absolute necessity for forgiveness. Without repentance, why would God forgive us? If someone stole from you and asked forgiveness, but never said they were sorry for what they did and that they would do it again if given the chance, would you think them worthy of forgiveness?
I hope not! If so, then you aren’t forgiving- you’re a fool.
Repentance, true repentance, is is the first step on the path to salvation which God has provided. . If someone sins and doesn’t repent of that sin, God is not a fool. He knows the heart of everyone, and if someone sins, likes to sin, and intends to continue to sin, they can repeat the “Sinners Prayer” until they are red in the face, and God will ignore them.
The final answer to the question, “Can sinners go to heaven?” is this: repentant sinners who ask forgiveness through the Messiah Yeshua can be forgiven of their sins, and by means of that forgiveness they will be in God’s presence forever.
In reality, no one goes to heaven, we stay on the new Earth- read the Prophets and Revelation.
I have said many times and will continue to do so, that before I was saved, I was a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins. And it is only because of that regret, that repentance and constantly, daily, hourly asking God to forgive me through Yeshua’s sacrifice, that I know I will be able to spend eternity in the presence of the Almighty.
We all know people who profess to believe in God and Messiah, and who have been taught that once they say the “Sinners Prayer” they are forgiven and so long as they are a “good” person, they will go to heaven. Some even say that they know they do wrong, but the Bible says God loves them and is forgiving, so they know that he will let them into heaven.
Sorry to bust your rose-colored bubble, but that ain’t how it works.
When we sin we need to ask forgiveness, each and every time, and we need to ask with genuine repentance. I still sin, and there are sins I know I do and have not overcome, and every day I ask forgiveness and strength to overcome sin in the future. Because of this attitude of repentance and humility, I believe that I will be in God’s presence, a forgiven sinner, in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.)
Let me end this with a statement that I believe we all should live by: We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!