In the book of Acts, there is an interesting event that happened. Peter was going up to pray and he fell into a trance. He had a vision of all kinds of animals, and God told him to rise, kill, and eat the animals. Peter refused at first, but then God reveal to him that He had cleansed the animals and that Peter could eat them. God had prepared Peter, along with other men, to meet a man named Cornelius, whose heart God was also preparing for receiving salvation. Cornelius was an outsider, a Gentile, whom Peter was not supposed to have anything to do with, but like the wild animals that God had cleansed, Cornelius was one who God was preparing for salvation.
"At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa."*
What was interesting was that Cornelius was a man of prayer and also a man who was charitable. What he did actually reached heaven! His prayers and alms ascended as a memorial before God. Yet, this man was not yet a believer in Jesus Christ.
I was reading a book called 'Revealing Heaven' by Kat Kerr. First, I do not have a final evaluation of this book. She claims to have seen heaven in visions and describes what she saw. Secondly, as I read through the book, everything she wrote in this book points to the Lord, and seems very Biblically based. She covers the Gospel clearly, so I am not going to criticize this book. I will continue to evaluate it in my mind, but at this point in time, I do not have a final opinion on it.
In this book, she covers many things that she saw while she was having these visions. One was very interesting. She saw memorials of people who did wonderful things for God, but they were not in heaven themselves. They never came to know the Lord. They were missing from heaven, but the memorial of their work was in heaven.
Kat Kerr brought up the story of Cornelius in this part of the book. The point I would like to make with all this is simply that we can be very moral people, and even prayer warriors, but we could still miss salvation because we have not repented of our sins and turned to the Lord.
There were a lot of God fearing people who were the founders of our nation, but it is hard to say if they actually knew the Lord. We pray that during their lifetimes, the connection was made. But many of them did not have the kind of fruit we would expect from a true believer in Jesus Christ. I wonder if there will be memorials in heaven with their names on them, but with their presence missing in heaven?
I am sure many people have a level of the 'fear of the Lord' but perhaps they don't know Him yet. We need to check our own hearts and see where we are at in our relationships with God. It would be very sad for any of us to have a memorial in heaven recognizing our work, yet still be missing from heaven.
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* Acts 10:1-8 ESV