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Who Gets Into Heaven



The longing inside of every human heart is to grow in intimacy with God and belong to His family. But how can that happen? In this talk, Ben Stuart looks at two different encounters Jesus has in Mark 10 and shows us what He says about who will enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Key Takeaway

There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn our way into the Kingdom of God. The only way we enter is through empty hands and a renovated heart, which only Jesus can do. He went before and died for us so that we may live forever with Him.

If others know God and are embraced by Him into the Kingdom of Heaven, how do you get that?

Today, we will see two different people who paint a picture for us of the answer to this question.

Mark 10:13- The context of this verse is Jesus is debating with the religious elite who had spiritual and political power over people. While He is doing this, parents are trying to get their children to Jesus. The disciples are annoyed, trying to keep them from Him, and rebuked them. Babies, or children small enough to be taken up into your arms, in that culture were considered insignificant because they don't contribute. They were nothing but need.

Mark 10:14- When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. There's a major tension. Jesus upholds the dignity and value of children. We are all made in the image of God. Therefore, we have dignity regardless of your capacity or what you can contribute. He then goes on to make an object lesson out of the babies. Everyone had been questioning who gets to inherit the Kingdom of God, who gets to be a truly spiritual person, and who gets to be ok with God. Jesus points to the children and says, "For such belongs the Kingdom of God.

Mark 10:15- He pushes further and tells the disciples they should look like them in order to get in. So in what way are we to look like babies? It's not in our behavior or thinking. He's not blessing ignorance. We are called to be wise. He says to RECEIVE the Kingdom. How do children receive? Kids don't try and pay; they know they're dependent. They receive with empty hands. They bring nothing but need. Jesus says He brings into the Kingdom those who have nothing with them. Entrance to the Kingdom requires reception.

Mark 10:16- Jesus lays hands on the children and blesses them.

Mark 10:17- The guy that enters is the guy everyone wants to be: young, wealthy, and powerful. He has what we all want, but he still has a lack and emptiness that he can't shake. He comes earnestly. He asks what he needs to do to enter the Kingdom.

Mark 10:18- Jesus answers back with what seems like a weird question, "Why do you call me good?" We are culturally missing pieces that help this make sense. The response of Jesus isn't weird, the guy's question is weird.

  • He called Jesus "teacher" or "rabbi". In Chapter 8, we see that Jesus is the Messiah, the centerpiece of everything. This guy doesn't think Jesus is anything more than a man who can teach him something.
  • He called Jesus "good," and culturally, no one would ever call someone this. God is the standard of good, so when he says what he says, he is saying that he believes man can be good.
  • He asked what he had to do to be at the level of good like Jesus.

The presuppositions under his question are so great that Jesus has to address them before answering his question. Jesus lets him know that he has a fundamental misunderstanding of the word "good." In a religious context, when someone says they are a good person, the question back should be by what metric and standard? Only God is good, and man is not. See Psalm 14:3.

The term "good" isn't one of morality in the Bible. It's a term of intimacy about your relationship with God.

Mark 10:19- Jesus quotes back to him the commandments of how we relate to others. The guy should have said, "I can't keep the law. I need help."

Mark 10:20- Instead, he states that he has kept all of those commandments and proves that he misunderstands the law. The law is meant to lead you to Christ because you can't live up to it. It's an x-ray to reveal you are broken. No one can keep it, but this guy thinks he is fine. If your view of God is you do good things to get acceptance, you will have no peace because you'll never know if it was enough. You're trying to earn His smile, and it's not for sale.

Mark 10:21- The guy is spiritually blind, but Jesus isn't mad at him. He loves him. Out of love, He tells him that he lacks one thing and gives him a task. Why?

  • To get him out of an earning mentality. You have to repent of wrongly using the things He gave you to bring Him glory to make yourself feel good about yourself. We make things functional saviors. They are good gifts but bad gods.
  • To shift the conversation out of moral action to heart affection. What do you love? Jesus tells him to sell all of those things that are stealing his heart's affection and follow Him.

So what is the one thing he lacks? Preference. Look at all the world has to offer, and then look at Jesus. Jesus wants you to prefer Him and love Him with your heart, mind, and soul.

What does it take to enter the Kingdom of God? Empty hands and a whole heart that loves God. It is not about what you do or what you know. Demons have a better theology than most. They were present and saw creation take place, they understand how God moves. So why aren't they in Heaven if they have an intellectual knowledge of God? They don't think it's lovely or love Him.

Jesus is being kind to this guy. He's not asking to do what we don't want from other people. We want to be preferred. Jesus knows the young man is gripping things that will fade and forsake. Release the transient things and grip true life.

Mark 10:22- The guy rejects Jesus. He chose the money over the One who could give give what his soul needs.

Mark 10:23- Jesus speaks of how difficult it will be for the wealthy to inherit the Kingdom of God.

Mark 10:24- The disciples are amazed. In their minds, wealth meant you were blessed by God. If you're blessed, you're close to God. So, it doesn't make sense that children are going to inherit the Kingdom of God and the rich man wouldn't, but Jesus doubles down on it.

Mark 10:25- Jesus says that the biggest animal they can conceive of at the time would have an easier time getting through the smallest hole they know of than for the the rich to inherit the Kingdom.

Mark 10:26- The disciples are exceedingly astonished. They know that's impossible.

Mark 10:27- That's the point. With man, it is impossible, but not with God. With God, all things are possible. We have to have a renovated heart, and we cannot do that on our own. We are powerless here. We can change our actions, but we can't change our loves. We cannot get into Heaven on our own, and that's the point. We have to come with empty hands, call out to our Father like a child, and let Him change us.

Mark 10:28-34- Jesus went first for us. He doesn't ask us to do for Him what He has not done for us already. He took on death so that we may have life eternally with Him.

So, what does it take to get into Heaven?

  1. Empty Hands: We're not trying to earn approval. We can't do it. It's impossible.
  2. A Whole Heart: We love Jesus more than we love our things. We want Him more than we want the things He gives us. That's the heart that God can trust.
  3. Requirement: God's grace. He has to do for us what we can't do for ourselves.
  4. Good News: Jesus already has done the impossible. Hold onto Him and He will lead you into the Kingdom.


"If your view of God is you do good things to get acceptance, you will have no peace because you'll never know if it was enough. You're trying to earn His smile, and it's not for sale."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Mark 10:13-34
  • Psalm 14:3
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.