Who will Enter the Pearly Gates of Heaven?

Samuel Smith



You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

In this edition, we continue with our series on Heaven. The topic for this study is: Who will enter the pearly gates of heaven? Right from the time of the patriarchs and prophets of old, the people of God have longed for a home that is better than our world. As the consequences of sin had ruined our planet, many have sought for a better world.

Beloved, from the book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul chronicles the desire of some of the earlier patriarchs and prophets for a home beyond our earth. From Hebrews 11:8-16, we read the following about Abraham and some of the earlier patriarchs and prophets: "11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

11:10 For he looked for a CITY which hath FOUNDATIONS, whose BUILDER and MAKER is God.

11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were STRANGERS and PILGRIMS on the EARTH.

11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a COUNTRY.

11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

11:16 But now they desire a BETTER COUNTRY, that is, an HEAVENLY: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a CITY."

(Hebrews 11:8-16; Capital Emphasis Added) Friends, from the book of Hebrews, we learn from the apostle Paul that these patriarchs and prophets saw themselves as strangers and pilgrims on the earth. We are told that these people actually desired a better country in HEAVEN; and that God has actually prepared a CITY for them.

Beloved, just as the apostle Paul indicated that God has prepared a city for His children in heaven (Hebrews 11), the apostle John also recorded that Christ promised the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them. From John 14:1-3, we read the following promise that Christ made to the disciples: "1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Friends, there are several key words in this promise of Christ that make it clear that the place the Saviour promised the disciples was none other place but heaven. For instance, Christ used the phrase "In my Father's house are many mansions". Beloved, the Bible makes it clear that the Father dwells at none other place but in heaven (Matthew 6:9; Psalm 103:19; Job 22:12; 2 Chronicles 7:14).

Now, despite these clear facts of Scripture above, other Christian groups will still want to teach differently concerning this clear biblical fact. In fact, one passage that a particular Christian denomination has been using to support the teaching that only a few righteous people will go to heaven is the passage in Luke 12:32-33. From this passage, we read the following words of Christ: "32 Fear not, LITTLE FLOCK; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you THE KINGDOM. 33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, A TREASURE IN THE HEAVENS that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth" (Luke 12:32-33; Capital Emphasis Added). Beloved, these believers interpret the phrase 'little flock' in this text to mean that only a few righteous people, specifically the 144,000 (as mentioned in Revelation 7 and 14) are the only ones who will go to heaven. According to this Christian group, the 144,000 that make it to heaven will actually reign over the large majority of the righteous that inherit the earth.

Friends, as I went through one of the articles of this Christian group that explain this topic, I was seriously surprised as to how they have twisted certain Bible texts to come up with this falsehood. You see beloved, in using the phrase 'little flock', Christ was specifically referring to the disciples who were with Him at that time. Besides this point, it is also clear from Scripture that the righteous who will be saved in the end can be described as a 'little flock' if we should compare their number with the number of the wicked that will be lost (Revelation 20:8).

Friends, when we even consider the conversation that ensued between Christ and the centurion in Matthew 8, we come away with the fact that not only a FEW, but rather, MANY people are going to make it into the kingdom of heaven. From Matthew 8:5-11, we read the following story about Jesus and a Roman centurion: "8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

8:6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

8:7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

8:11 And I say unto you, That MANY shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."

(Matthew 8:5-11; Capital Emphasis Added)
Friends, this passage makes it abundantly clear that not a FEW people, but rather MANY people are going to make it into the kingdom of heaven. According to the words of Christ, many people are going to come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (Matthew 8:11). Beloved, besides the passages we have considered so far, there are several other passages in Scripture that teach this same truth. Let's check out some few of such passages:


From the Sermon on the Mount, we gather some clear biblical texts which prove that all the righteous will make it into the kingdom of heaven. Here are some of the key texts that support this position: "5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your REWARD IN HEAVEN: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." "6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 6:20 But lay up for yourselves TREASURES IN HEAVEN, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 5:3, 10, 11, 12 and Matthew 6:19-21; Capital Emphasis Added) Beloved, many of us will agree to the fact that this sermon applied to the earlier disciples as well as to those of us who are living at the final hours of this earth's history. Now if that is the case, can we then actually say that the tough counsels and reproofs in the sermon are meant for everyone, but not the promises? Can we say that all Christians should endure persecution, but that the accompanying reward for those who suffer for righteousness sake is meant for only a few? (Matthew 5:10).

Friends, the truth, as clearly spelt out in Scripture is that the promise of heaven is for everyone who will come to believe in Christ; and actually follow after Him.


Beloved, besides the clear words of Scripture which we have reviewed in the Sermon on the Mount, there are also other testimonies from the apostles that confirm the position that all the righteous will make it into the kingdom of God. Here are few of such clear statements from the apostles:

From Titus 2:13, we read the following: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ".

Now, someone might ask; what is this blessed hope that the apostle Paul talks about? What do believers obtain when Christ appears in the clouds of heaven? Beloved, the answer to these questions is found in Colossians 1:5. The text there reads: "For the hope which is LAID UP FOR YOU IN HEAVEN, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel" (Colossians 1:5; Capital Emphasis Added).

Friends, the text above is clear. The hope of the righteous is laid up for them IN HEAVEN. Just below are some more proofs from the apostles that all the righteous will spend some time with God in heaven:

"For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in HEAVEN a better and an enduring substance" (Hebrews 10:34; Capital Emphasis Added).

"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN for you," (1 Peter 1:3-4; Capital Emphasis Added).

"20 For our CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself" (Philippians 3:20-21; Capital Emphasis Added).

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).

Friends, these words of hope were sent by the apostles to entire congregations. Sometimes the apostles even commanded that their letters should be read to other congregations in other places as well (Colossians 4:16). The point I want to make here is that the counsels, warnings and promises in these epistles were meant for the entire congregation of the saints who lived at the time of the apostles; as well as for those of us who are living at the final hours of this earth's history (1 Corinthians 10:11). Thus friends, if we consider the fact that the promise of heaven has been given to different classes of people who lived at different time periods in the history of our world, then it is very clear that the number of people who will enter the kingdom of God in heaven will not just be some few 144,000 people, but rather, the entire congregation of the righteous.

Beloved, the Bible makes it clear that all the saints will be rewarded with a better and an enduring substance in heaven (Hebrews 10:34). In fact, we gather from 2 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Revelation 20:4 and 6 that all the saints will actually spend a thousand years with Christ in heaven. The Bible teaches that after the saints have spent a thousand years with Christ in heaven, they will then descend with Christ to the earth in the beloved city; the New Jerusalem.

The apostle John clearly records that he saw the holy city descending out of heaven as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2, 10). Friends, this text clearly teach that the righteous will enjoy the treasures of the beloved city, the New Jerusalem, in the kingdom of heaven before they descend with the city to inherit a brand new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3:13; Matthew 5:5).

Beloved, the New Jerusalem is the heavenly city that Abraham and the earlier patriarchs had looked forward to. This is the place Christ promised the disciples. For we read from the last book of the Bible that this city has twelve foundations; and on these foundations are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14). Friends, this is the same city that you and l are looking forward to enter its pearly gates; for we are told by the beloved apostle that the city has got twelve gates which are made of pearl. Twelve angels stand at the twelve gates ready to welcome the saints of God. Moreover, on the twelve gates are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (Revelation 21:12, 21).

Beloved, the fact that the city has got twelve gates is very significant. You see, in ancient times, cities were often built with few gates. Most often, there was only one main gate. The purpose was to keep people, particularly, the enemy out from entering the city. But friends, in the New Jerusalem, God has provided as many as twelve gates. The message here is very simple: God is saying to you and I that everyone is welcome into the New Jerusalem. From Revelation 22:17, we read the following from the beloved apostle: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Friends, it does not matter what you've done in the past, or where you are coming from, if you only accept the invitation of Christ as recorded in the text above, you'll have access into the New Jerusalem. Just look at the names on the twelve gates. Friends, these are the names of the twelve sons of Jacob. These were terrible sinners just like you and l. Check out their stories in the Old Testament and you will be amazed at some of the terrible things they did. They all hated their brother Joseph to the point that most of them wanted to kill him (Genesis 37:18-20). Reuben slept with his father's concubine (Genesis 35:22; Genesis 49:3-4). Simeon and Levi were cruel and brutal, that in their anger they could slay all the men of an entire city in revenge for their sister's defilement (Genesis 34; Genesis 49:5-7). Judah slept with someone he thought was a prostitute (Genesis 38:15-18). We can go on and on. But friends, the fact I don't want you to miss is this; at a point in their lives, they decided to accept the free gift of salvation as expressed in the Lamb of God that was slain from the foundation if the world (Revelation 5:6; Revelation 13:8).

Friends, these sons of Jacob changed their evil ways to obey the commandments of God. And now, they have their names written on the pearly gates of heaven. Beloved, this is an amazing grace! If Christ could do it for them, He can do it for us too. It does not matter what you've done in the past, the invitation is still the same: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). Beloved, salvation is a free gift. It was because of you and I that Jesus died on Calvary's cross. Christ paid for our sins in full on the cross (John 1:29; Philippians 2:5-8).

Beloved, the only reason why you will be denied access to this city of God in heaven is not because you were not part of the 144,000; but because (just like Dan whose name was replaced with Manasseh on the pearly gates of heaven; see Revelation 7:4-8), you cherished some evil deed so much that you found it too hard to let go this sin so you could accept the free gift of salvation as found in the Person of Jesus Christ. Beloved, it is not some particular group of people who are going to make it into the pearly gates of heaven, but rather, all those who exercise such a faith in Jesus that is so strong that they will rather die than disobey their Lord (Revelation 14:12; Revelation 12:11).

Now friends, from Revelation 22:14, we read an important condition that you and I will have to fulfill if we want to enter the city of God. This text reads: "Blessed are they that do HIS COMMANDMENTS, that they may have right to the TREE OF LIFE, and may enter in through the GATES into the CITY" (Revelation 22:14; Capital Emphasis Added). Thus beloved, as I bring this study to a close, I want to reiterate the fact that it is not some particular number of people (that is some 144,000) that will make it into the heavenly city, but rather, anyone who decides to obey the commandments of God in a loving response to what Christ has already done for him or her on the cross of Calvary (John 3:16; John 14:15).

Exhortation: "21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:21-27).

In our next study, we will consider the topic: Who are the 144,000 people mentioned in Revelation 7 and 14? The Bible study references for this study are Revelation 6:12-17, Revelation 7:1-17 and Revelation 14:1-5. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.

Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.


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