In a recent interview, billionaire and long time atheist Ted Turner, said, “I don’t want to go to Hell.” The soon to be 75 year old, still considers himself to be an agnostic, but now he is open to the possibility that “somebody is out there.” And to show that he is serious about avoiding eternal damnation, he has, in his latter years, focused on doing good. He has been very generous with his wealth and has become an advocate and supporter of many worthwhile causes. But is all his good deeds enough to get him into Heaven? Jane Fonda, an openly Christian women, who also happens to be Turner’s former wife says, when it comes to Heaven, Ted Turner is a “shoo-in.” Why is she so sure about his eternal security? Here is an excerpt from the article:Fonda said she believes Turner’s childhood traumas left him so protective of himself that he had trouble opening up emotionally. But, she said, he does want to get into Heaven. And, she said, he’s a shoo-in. “Given his childhood,” Fonda said, “he should’ve become a dictator. He should’ve become a not nice person. The miracle is that he became what he is. A man who will go to Heaven, and there’ll be a lot of animals up there welcoming him, animals that have been brought back from the edge of extinction because of Ted. He’s turned out to be a good guy. And he says he’s not religious. But he, the whole time I was with him, every speech — and he likes to give speeches — he always ends his speech with ‘God bless.’ And he’ll get into Heaven. He’s a miracle.”
The interviewer then summed up the article this way:The old Ted Turner — the one who made billions and won the America’s Cup and the World Series and launched CNN — probably would have tried to buy his way in. But the do-gooder Ted is earning his way in by saving bison and other endangered species and fighting for the oceans and preserving 2 million acres of ranch land and standing up for women and supporting causes near and dear to the United Nations. That Ted Turner gets into Heaven, by Jane Fonda’s accounting.
Now, I am sure Jane Fonda was just trying to be nice. And maybe she plans on having many more salvation conversations with her still-good-friend Ted Turner. But if the CNN article is an accurate description of her beliefs, then sadly she is not only keeping Ted from Heaven, but inadvertently leading Ted to Hell.
To be fair it is hard for any Christian not to think that somehow the good deeds of their non believing friends or family might get them into Heaven. But the Bible is clear, no amount of good works gets any person into Heaven.
Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Titus 3:5 [God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
How then does one go to Heaven?
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
There is only one way to Heaven:
Repent of your sins, confess Jesus as Lord of your life, and thereby receive God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness.
Matt Chandler once wrote, ““the idolatry that exists in a man’s heart always wants to lead him away from his Savior and back to self-reliance” Our good works are often just a veiled form of self-reliance. But the good news of Jesus Christ is that we no longer have to rely on ourselves (especially for salvation), instead we are now able to rely solely on the grace of God. We were made to be God-dependent, not independent.
On the cross, Jesus did all the good work necessary for you and me to go to Heaven. There is nothing we can or need to add to that.
So for all of us who, like Ms. Fonda, have friends and family like Ted who don’t want to go to Hell, let us not give them false hope in their good works. Instead, let us lead them to the One True Hope, Jesus Christ, because their good works can’t get them into Heaven, but they can lead them into Hell.