Who goes to Heaven?

9Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Dear RZIM community,

I had some thoughts about Heaven running around in my mind, and wanted to know if I might bounce some things off you all. I wonder if the right question is not Who is to be present in Heaven as much as it is What is to be present in Heaven? The Bible tells us that God desires all to be saved, but that in the end, few will be. I believe that the verse I pasted above begins to explain this. Lives full of pride, envy, hatred, wrath etc have no place in Heaven. It does not matter if someone has said the sinner’s prayer or done all the right religious deeds, if the fruit of their life is carnal, they don’t really know God, and thus no place can be found for them there. I imagine I am rather orthodox in what I have stated so far. But I am beginning to wonder if the converse could be true. Could someone who has never darkened the door of a church, or said the right prayer, yet whose life demonstrates the Fruit of the Spirit be saved? I think somewhere in Scripture there is something about walking in the light that we have. Even those outside what we would understand to be Christian, if they demonstrate by their life that they know God, are they not also salved?


Of course, dealing with the eternal destination of people’s souls is a delicate topic. I appreciate the gravity of your question.

To your first point, I believe there is some truth and some issues with the position:

On the one hand, we are not saved by our deeds. If we are not saved by our deeds, it is difficult to say that our deeds could take away, undo, and overpower Christ’s salvific work. Having said that, we should see the fruit of our salvation. We are called to good works. We demonstrate our faith by our works.

I do not think we could judge either way. I think there are some we would question their salvation who are absolutely born again. And there are those we wouldn’t doubt for a second, that may not see heaven. Not pronouncing who is saved and who is not saved is how I interpret Christ’s commandment to judge not lest we be judged. Determining who is in and who is out is the prerogative of God alone.

That being said, there are those who will say to Christ “Lord, Lord” and will do great works in his name, who he will cast out because he does not know them, relationship being a key aspect of salvation.

I do not know if we can tell externally who is in and who is out. We might view somone struggling with things of which we do not know and may misjudge their fruit. We simply pray for them, encourage them, and move on.

When it comes to those who live properly, I do think Romans leaves the door open to those who are judged by their own conscience, being judged by the law written on their heart. I do not believe, however, this would apply to someone who has heard and rejected the Gospel. Would I stake my salvation on that point, I do not think I would. Again, it is not for me to determine who is in and who is out. I can only do my best to interpret what I believe God has revealed in His Word.


My husband and I were contemplating a similar question and that is could a person who does not know Jesus but follows God’s law written on their hearts be saved through Christ? We were thinking of it kind of in the way Abraham’s Faith was credited him as righteousness. It was just an idea we tossed around but we can never really know. I believe that God will make a way for everyone who would desire to follow Him to find Him. That’s not based on any particular scripture though. Just some thoughts.


Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 5:33 You sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
Joh 5:34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that you might be saved.
Joh 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Act 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

According to the above scriptures, no one can be saved except through Christ. The world is full of folks who indeed appear to have all of the qualities of a righteous person and folks that follow certain religions/denominations have the appearance of righteousness but deny the power thereof.
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, un thankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Only through the shed blood of Christ can anyone be saved. Which means in order to receive true salvation one has to know Christ and to be in an intimate relationship with Christ before they can receive the prize at the end of the race.
When scripture tells us “You shall not judge” it is not talking about judging whether someone is committing sin or not, it talking about judging whether someone is going to heaven or not. The judgment is reserved for God only.


Over 164 times in the NT alone it says salvation (eternal life) come by believing in Christ as savior. No where does it link eternal life salvation with deeds of the individual.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NAS): For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

John is very good about using the word BELIEVE when he is referring to salvation, which is a gift. When John is talking about the Christian life or discipleship (how you would actually grow and therefore know Christ) he uses the word ABIDE. Having believed and therefore saved by the promise and power of Christ has nothing to do with whether you know Him. Consider the thief on the cross. He did not know Christ yet by his belief he would be with Christ in paradise that day.

Here is another example. If you gave birth to a child and immediately gave it up for adoption and never saw that child again does that child know you? Do you know that child? No. But it is still your child. It always will be. You cannot change it.

Yes we were created for good works. But if by being saved we would automatically grow in our knowledge of Christ and live rightly then why is 90% of the NT writings to churches (I.E. BELIEVERS) in regards to HOW you should live as believers? Paul himself in Romans chapter 7 says

Romans 7:15–21 (NAS): 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.

Being saved does not take away the natural bent to sin. You are still flesh. You must, as Paul says, surrender to the spirit. IF you do that you will bear much fruit

John 15:5 (NAS): 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.


Your important, necessary, asked by many as to who will be in Heaven. So many have pondered that perplexing question. I would like to share a few passages. Let me first say this, His ways are higher than ours. I believe i will be astonished at who I will meet or not meet in Heaven. Only He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart.

But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Luke 18:16‭-‬17 NKJV

And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Luke 18:24‭-‬30 NKJV

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NKJV

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
James 1:19‭-‬22 NLT

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 NKJV

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
John 8:12 NLT

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
I John 1:7 NKJV

These plus many others show us what we should be and do.
Be a child
Forsake all
Love Him and our neighbor
Do not just say
Bear much fruit
Walk in the light

The thief on the cross had no time to do/live this, yet, Jesus said today you will be with Me in Paradise.

Again may I say only God and I know who sits upon the throne in my life.

In another thread I said if Hitler repented He will be there also. I cant know what I cant know about others I only know what i know.about me.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9 NKJV

Trust I made things clear.
Gods gracious kindness to you


You cannot know if someone else is saved for certain, however, I believe if you believe the Nicene creed to be true, you will be saved.

Amen. Only God knows

Certainly I agree that no one can be saved except through Christ. However, just how does Christ save? What of those who lived before the Cross? How are they saved?What of those who would never have heard of Him because they lived in a place where there was no church? I believe they are saved the same way Abraham was: By faith, which comes by hearing, which comes from the Word of God.

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Over 164 times in the New Testament it says salvation comes by faith alone in Christ. Ephesians 2:8–9 (NAS): For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Salvation is a gift for believing. Read John 3:16. All the passages you have listed are talking about discipleship

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For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
I Peter 3:18‭-‬20 NKJV

Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Matthew 27:51‭-‬53 NKJV

Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
Ephesians 4:8‭-‬10 NKJV
Partial prophecy from Psalm 68

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
John 5:24‭-‬29 NKJV
A personal prophecy from Jesus

Hope this helped


In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is spoken of as “resting” upon someone or came upon someone and there are a few examples where the Bible speaks of someone being filled with the Spirit of God but for a specific reason like craftsmanship with gold in Exo. 31:3
Exo 31:3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.
We also know that the promise of Eternal life was never given in the Old Testament so folks died and went to the lower reaches of the earth. Proof of that comes from the story of King Saul. I desperation Saul went to a medium (The witch of Endore) and ask her to bring Samuel up.
1Sa 28:8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.
We should take notice here that Saul asked the Diviner/Medium to bring UP Samuel. Which is proof that when Samuel died his soul went down into the Lower reaches of the earth and did not die but slept because according to other scripture our body goes back to the dust from which it came.
Likewise we should take notice that when Samuel was brought UP, and when Samuel was brought up he was (I think) irritated and asked Saul “Why have you disturbed me?” (The word Disquieted means Disturbed)
1Sa 28:15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me UP? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
We know from Ecc 9:5 that dead folks know nothing which tells us that when folks in the Old Testament died they were not aware of anything that was taking place or happening in the world of the living.
Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
So when Samuel was “brought up” by the witch of Endor, he was brought Up from a state of rest/sleep/peace and didn’t like being brought back up to the living.
So what happens to those who died in the old Testament??? The answer is located in the book of Revelation at the Great White Throne Judgment.
Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (We should take notice that there is only ONE book of life spoken of in this verse but there were many other books that were opened as well. Is Samuel’s name written in the Lambs book of Life??? The answer is that we don’t know because at this point the Resurrection has already taken place and we who will have died in Christ would have been judged by now so Why would the Lambs book of life need to read from?? We do know that the dead from every where who have not been judged are raised from the grave to be judged and this would include Samuel and David, all of the Prophets and any other Old Testament “Saint”.
Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
As for those who would have never heard of the Gospel before their death I can not say because that judgment would be reserved for God only. But I can say that God is merciful and I am sure that He would take into account the fact that they had never heard of the Gospel and were never given the chance turn from their wicked ways.
Abraham can not be compared to those who had never heard of the Gospel before death because unlike those who had not heard of the Gospel, Abraham had a very intimate relationship with God who actually appeared to Abraham in the form of three men in the desert of Mamre.

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Excellent Word.

Hello, @manbooks! Has your actual question been answered to your satisfaction? You seem to be interested in the process of salvation. That is, can Christ save those who have never had the opportunity in this life to hear of him?

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Hey Dean (and the other great thinkers on this post)

This topic is actually covered quite well by Paul in his articulation of the gospel (Romans 1-8).
Hopefully I’m not sounding too much like a “smarty pants” or a “know-it-all” by assuming the bible actually covers the explanation to this question… I just personally believe Paul’s letter to the Romans does a great job of covering it… And here’s how, as I see it, nearly all of the comments on this page can be fully and completely reconciled:

In theory (and in theory only) those who continually, patiently, and consistently do the right thing (not sinning) would be granted eternal life and would not require the payment of Jesus on their behalf. This is the point Paul is making in the entire context surrounding Romans 2: 7.

Hope that helps…

I think it was Watchman New who said that our sactification is Romans 5 to 8 over and over again.

I agree that it may not be possible for us to tell on the. Outside who is in the Kingdom. We are not judge in the sense of condemn, but we must discern. If the tree has no apples, it might not be an apple tree. But it also may not be the season 4 apples!

Yes thanks, had not seen that

I believe the passage from John answers it. Jesus preached to the dead, and those who heard were resurrected. Perhaps the same will be true for those who never had a chance to hear.

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Related topic: Age of accountability.
What of children who die before they had a chance to believe?

Wow, @manbooks, you’ve had quite a conversation going on these last few weeks – interesting stuff! Although I’m late to the game, I’ll be glad to share a few thoughts.

I believe your original question was about whether someone who lived a righteous life could be saved without being a Christian.

That’s actually a hypothetical case that is, sadly, unrealistic. To live righteously enough to enter the presence of God without being consumed by His holiness would require that one be as absolutely holy as God Himself. Even Moses could not have done that in his mortal life (Exodus 33:20).

In fact, the angels who stand in His immediate Presence have two wings to hover in place on the surge of energy that flows ever outward from the throne, two wings to cover their feet against the burning coals that flow from beneath it, and two wings to cover their faces from the consuming glory of His holiness (Isaiah 6:1-7).

Someone being good enough to enter that Presence? It would take a miracle! (But hold that thought!)

Then you asked how people were saved before the cross. By faith, Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (Hebrews 11:4ff). In fact, Hebrews 11 recounts many exploits that OT characters did by faith – and verse 13 says that they hadn’t received the promises (of the Messiah) in their day, but they saw them afar off by faith. So OT believers were saved by faith looking forward to the fulfilment of the gospel promise, just as we’re saved by faith looking back to it.

Ever since the fall, God had promised those first generations that a Seed would come of the woman (Genesis 3:15), Who would bruise the serpent’s head (a mortal blow) though it would bruise His heel in the process (a comparatively minor blow).

And God showed Adam and Eve an object lesson of how that would work by slaying innocent animals to take their death sentence (Genesis 3:21) – establishing the principle that for a guilty sinner to live, an innocent substitute must die. And God clothed them in the skins of those substitutes so that when He looked at them, He saw the innocence of the one who had died in their place. (I’m guessing those were sheep, based on what they themselves apparently taught Cain and Abel to do in chapter 4.)

Now, that was a very dim preview of the gospel of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world – but it was all those first generations needed to respond in faith as Abel did in the next scene – and Cain refused to do. Those who believe are given the righteousness of the Lamb Who died in their place – the impossible, miraculous righteousness of God we mentioned at the start!

From that age to this, God has only required men to believe in whatever level of light He has entrusted to the world at that time. But the more gospel He reveals, the more He holds us accountable for.

He would later reveal to Abraham that the Promised Seed would be a descendant of his, and all the world would be blessed through Him. Abraham believed God and He counted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

Of course, God has revealed much more gospel light by now, and all men are accountable to believe what’s been given – Acts 4:10-12. But you are right that in every age faith has come by hearing the word of God revealed to that generation.

You also asked about those who had never heard of Him. But even they have received light from God, and they’re accountable for the light they’re given. Romans 1:18-20 says that the light of creation clearly shows the reality of a Creator so that they are without excuse before Him.

Romans 2:14-15 says that the light of conscience likewise makes them accountable for the wrongs they’ve done. But verse 12 says that men are judged by the law they had, not by the law they didn’t. And Jesus said it would be more tolerable for those who violated less light than for those who violated greater – Matthew 11:20-24.

Your last question was about children who die before having a chance to believe. What we’ve said about the level of light applies here as well. Greater light, greater accountability; less light, less accountability; no light, no accountability. Infants would be those with no light whatsoever – not from the gospel, the creation or the conscience. Romans 4:15 says, where no law is, there is no transgression. Romans 5:13 says that sin is not imputed when there is no law. Such children would essentially be in a state of innocence no different from Adam and Eve before the fall. They’re not “lost” yet.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you!

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