What about professing Christians who have never been born again? Will they be going to Heaven?
What I have in mind are what I prefer to call "Cultural Christians." These are people who claim to be Christians because they profess to believe in Jesus, but they have no personal relationship with Him. Many of these are people who attend church regularly. Some are elders, deacons, teachers, and even pastors. Can they get to Heaven through church membership or by participating in Christian rites like baptism or communion?
The answer of the Bible is a clear "No!" Jesus Himself said that no man can see the kingdom of God unless he be "born again" (John 3:3). That means a person must put his faith in Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. It is not sufficient to simply believe that Jesus lived. The Bible says that even "the demons believe and shudder" (James 2:19). But they have rejected Jesus as their Lord.
Going to church or participating in Christian rituals is not another road to Heaven. Our churches are filled with unsaved people who are trusting in their works to get them to Heaven. But the Bible says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith... not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In an interview I conducted recently with Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, he pointed out that two words sum up one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and all other religions in the world. Those words are "do" and "done." Regarding access to Heaven, all the false religions of the world say, "DO!" Christianity, in stark contrast, proclaims "DONE!"1 In other words, Christianity declares that Jesus did everything necessary for our salvation through His death on the cross. There is nothing we can add to that.
False expressions of Christianity require you to earn your salvation by doing works that they require. True Christianity says there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation because it is a free gift of God through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. In this sense, true Christianity is really not a religion; rather, it is a relationship. Jesus made this clear at the last supper with His disciples when He prayed to God, saying, "...this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3).
In this regard I feel compelled to state, respectfully, that this is an area where Billy Graham seems to have strayed from the Gospel. I say this because he has made it very clear in his writings and his public statements that he believes the Catholic Church is a true expression of Christianity.2
This is unfortunate because his endorsement of Catholicism has made many Catholics feel comfortable and safe in their faith. And although I am sure there are some Catholics who have truly placed their faith in Jesus, the vast majority have not because the Catholic Church has always taught salvation by works — which makes the religion of Catholicism a false form of Christianity.3
In the final Part 7 of this series "Are there many roads to God?", we'll get to the bottom line in answering this much asked question.
1) Two video interviews with Dr. Jeffress have been published as a video album by Lamb & Lion Ministries. The album is titled, "Absolute Truth" and can be ordered from our Online Resource Center.
2) John Ashbrook, "Billy Graham's Catholic Connection". This is just one of many examinations on the Internet of Graham's endorsement of Catholicism. There are also video interviews of him endorsing the Catholic faith.
3) Graham takes this position because he says "Catholics believe in Jesus." But, again, do they simply believe he existed (as do Muslims), or do they believe in the sense of trusting Him, and Him alone, for their salvation? If their trust is truly in Jesus, then why are they instructed to pray to Mary? A great source for unbiblical Catholic beliefs is pro-gospel.org/x2.