“Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.” Psalm 119:2, 3
Understand the most basic requirement of heaven, the deciding factor of entrance into heaven.
If I am seeking something with my whole heart, it must be something that I value above all other things. It is something that I love. Why is this so important in whether I am seen fit to gain entrance into heaven? I believe that answer to this question is stated very succinctly, in fact in three words: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8, first part). This is not speaking of human love, but divine love as is defined in the preceding verses.
Let’s think about this for a moment. If I am motivated to do something from any other motive than pure, true principled love, I believe that it is a given that sooner or later that motive would change, and as the motive changes, the action also changes. However, God never changes. His character is love, the basis of His government is love, His law is love, and we are told that He never changes.
If our lives, our words and actions are based on love, divine love, true love based on principle, will we ever change? No, so if my motivating factor is love, then I am safe to be in the kingdom of glory restored. If I live, speak, act, make decisions based on God’s principle of love, I will be a safe citizen of that heavenly realm. If the motive power for my obedience is not love of the purity, holiness, righteousness of God’s government, law, kingdom, I will not be a safe subject for that kingdom.
The universe has endured over 6,000 years of sin, of rebellion, of spurious, self-centered love. It can be unequivocally stated that God will not allow it a second time. And as He is not a God of force, the only option He has is to restrict entrance to only those who are motivated by the unchanging principle of divine love. Because as the Bible says “love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13 elaborates on this: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (verses 1–3 NASB).
God says it doesn’t matter how great the deed, how wonderful the gift or talent, how mighty the power. If it is not motivated by love, it profits me nothing. Why? It is because of those three words we read earlier from 1 Corinthians 13:8 – “Love never fails.” That is the only motive that is sure. That is the only motive power that is safe. All other motives will eventually fail.
Immediately after these words “it profits me nothing” follows a description of true love. In our world today, basically what we know and see is Satan’s counterfeit for God’s true principle of love. So we need to be educated as to what true love is. 1 Corinthians gives a definition of true love, principled love. It is this divine, principled love that is expressed in the Ten Commandments. It is this love that is the basis of the government of God. It is His very character.
This principled love is the basic requirement of entrance into heaven. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 NASB also sheds some light as to why this is the case. It says, “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” The love of God and of Christ are steadfast.
What does steadfast mean? Here is the first definition from Merriam-Webster: “firmly fixed in place; immovable.” Does that sound like something based on that love would be secure? Something based on that kind of “steadfast love” will not be changed.
Two more scriptures among many state clearly God’s requirement for those who would be citizens of His kingdom of glory.
Mark 12:30: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 10:12 NASB: “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
The most basic problem of the human race is whether or not I sin. I would like to propose to you that love is involved in the motive of everything I do or choose. It is either self-love or love of God. Think about that for a moment. When man sinned he lost the natural goodness, the propensity for good, that total lack of propensity to do evil which was the condition in which he was created by God. He lost the ability to do good and became wholly depraved, evil, wicked. The Bible teaches that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? As a result of that first sin, mankind is now under the power that is the exact opposite of love, the epitome of hatred, evil and death. There is one power alone that is stronger than death – love, pure, divine love. Therefore, there is only one power that is stronger than sin. In other words, there is one power alone that gives us the power to overcome sin – love.
“If God has given His only begotten Son to die, the just for the unjust, He wants every voice to proclaim it; for this is the truth that is to work counter to the lies of Satan. Christ’s death for man shows that his compassion and love are without a parallel. Christ’s resurrection proves that He has power over death and the grave. He is willing and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.” The Review and Herald, August 13, 1889.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).
These are wonderful attributes – wonderful ability of speech, prophecy, understanding all mysteries and knowledge, faith even so strong as to move mountains, giving all you have to give to others, and even martyrdom. But God says all these are worth nothing without the motivating power of love.
There is another Scripture in the Bible that gives this exact same principle, but stated in the negative rather than in the positive, and in another setting. You all know these famous words of Christ. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21–23 KJV).
Again we have a description of someone doing wonderful things in Jesus’ name. But Jesus says, “I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” What? Doing all these wonderful and good things, and Jesus says, “I never knew you?”
The problem here is one of motive. The issue is self-love, rather than love of God and the principles of His kingdom.
Inspiration says it this way: “No matter how high the profession, he whose heart is not filled with love for God and his fellow men is not a true disciple of Christ. Though he should possess great faith and have power even to work miracles, yet without love his faith would be worthless. He might display great liberality; but should he, from some other motive than genuine love, bestow all his goods to feed the poor, the act would not commend him to the favor of God. In his zeal he might even meet a martyr’s death, yet if not actuated by love, he would be regarded by God as a deluded enthusiast or an ambitious hypocrite.” The Acts of the Apostles, 318, 319.
Why? Why is this attribute of love so important? The crux of the matter is stated in these few words of Jesus recorded by John the Beloved. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NASB). God does not say if you are afraid of Me, or if you know I exist, or if you obey because you have to, and the list could go on. Satan has myriads of counterfeit reasons. God says, “If you love Me.” Period.
Let’s think about this in a logical way for a moment. Would you want to be in heaven if heaven is like this earth? Of course not. In that case, you and I must change. Think of this from the perspective of God. Think of the extreme cost of putting into effect the wonderful plan of salvation by which alone you and I have hope of eternity. Will God allow sin to rear its head again? Never. If we are to be in that kingdom of glory restored, we must have the attributes that would make us safe to be there—for eternity. That means obedience from that most basic principle – love for God and for the principles of His kingdom.
Do you have that kind of love? How do we get that kind of love? The answer is very simple.
The inspired writer says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV). What is that glory of the Lord? It is self-sacrificing love.
“It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which ‘seeketh not her own’ has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.” The Desire of Ages, 20.
“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NASB).
All quotes NKJV unless otherwise noted.
Brenda Douay is a staff member at Steps to Life. She may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.