Thinking of Home: What is Heaven? 1

“When you die and go to heaven, do they take you there in a school bus?” “No, they pick you up in a golden chariot … silver if you come in second.”

International evangelist and Bible teacher John Blanchard shares this delightful dialogue from a Peanuts cartoon. It reflects the wit of the late Charles Schultz. Rev. Blanchard believes it also touches a beating pulse—the rampant universalism that pervades our Western culture. He cites in a recent survey that seventy-eight percent of those interviewed thought they had a “good or excellent” chance of getting to heaven, while only four percent thought they would probably go to hell. Per our culture’s perspective, truth is determined by popularity in the polls and not reality.

However, Blanchard indicates that Scripture is not nearly so optimistic. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus laid down one particularly clear sign: “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). Blanchard concludes that taking the last phrase at its face value, the obvious conclusion is that only a small minority of people will get to heaven.

Scripture also indicates that on another occasion Jesus told His followers, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), which seems to imply that those bound for heaven would always be in a minority—as does His statement elsewhere that “many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The conclusion is this picture is totally at odds with today’s popular religious opinion.

Blanchard says the Bible’s teaching is that this world’s achievers are the least likely to get to heaven. He cites that when a wealthy young man refused to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, Jesus told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). Blanchard warns us that temporal possessions tend to divert men’s attention from eternal realities; it also makes a nonsense of the so-called “prosperity gospel.”

The Apostle Paul illustrated how this principle worked out in his day when he reminded Christians at Corinth, “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26). In the earliest days of Christianity, it could already be witnessed that earthly possessions and positions made getting into heaven more difficult, not easier.