All Dogs Don't Go to Heaven
by Pastor Cary Gordon
When my son, Solomon, was about 14 months old, I awoke one Monday to our normal early morning routine. I placed him in his highchair, provided him with some dry Cheerios and a bottle of fresh milk, wheeled him into our bedroom and prepared to return to my bed while he watched “Sesame Street” and ate his breakfast. I switched on the television to find “Super Grover” interviewing what appeared to be a four-year-old little girl. Grover asked, “What is love?” The little girl responded, “What?” Grover asked again, “Umm, what is love?” The little girl fidgeted for a minute and then let out a darling little definition that brought a smile to my face. She said, “Well, love is hugs and kisses and a warm feeling inside.” Grover responded, “Wow, love sounds really nice, doesn’t it?” As I chuckled to myself and pressed back into my pillow, the Lord nudged me about what I had just heard. It was sweet and simple coming from that pre-schooler, yet I knew why the Spirit had nudged me inside. When we become adults, we discover that love is far more than hugs, kisses, and a warm feeling inside. We discover that love is a life-long covenant decision, which supersedes fleeting and unstable emotions. The Spirit of God was saying, “This is fine for a tiny child, but it’s time for the church to grow up!”
Clearly, there are two sides to the person of Jesus Christ. He is not entirely a person of gracious and merciful acceptance without the willingness, when necessary, to show justifiable rejection. On the other hand, He is not entirely a person who reveals justifiable rejection without the willingness, when appropriate, to extend gracious and merciful acceptance. He is love…love in its fullest and most balanced sense. He is the perfect personified balance between rewards and punishment. Not only is He the perfect example of love; He has left us instructions on how to walk in obedience to the law of love, depositing the capability to do so within each of our souls.
Romans 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
When we embrace the truth that the very love of God has been deposited within our hearts through the new birth, we must equally accept that we are capable of accurately walking the line of righteous judgment. It is impossible to walk in obedience to the law of love without an active use of righteous judgment on our parts. I realize that this statement begs for controversy as many have so often misquoted Jesus in the ever-famous verse of Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” It appears in our society that few comprehend the context of this statement so beloved of sinners. I am told that at one time in America the most notable verse of memory was John 3:16. Today, John 3:16 has given way to a new front-runner of biblical memorabilia. This particular passage, Matthew 7:1, has found admiration even among those who claim no affinity with Christianity, other than the occasional misapplied verse of convenience when confronted with their own sin.
Only five verses after Jesus states, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” He says, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” This verse results in the question, “How am I to determine which persons in this world qualify as ‘spiritual dogs’ and ‘spiritual pigs’ if I am not allowed to judge other people?” The answer does not require a PhD in theology; it is actually rather simple. Jesus’ entire message in the seventh chapter of Matthew deals with learning to judge other people. His opening remark, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” is put into context when we recognize that He was referring only to UNRIGHTEOUS judgment.
On the contrary, Jesus goes on to express how righteous judgment should take place between men; and recognizing that some, for fear of making a mistake, might decide to show no judgment at all, He warns that any unwillingness on our part to use righteous judgment will result in our own destruction. In verses 15 and 16 of the same chapter, He says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Again, if what so many have claimed about judgment is true—that we aren’t ever supposed to judge anyone—then it poses the question, “How on earth do we determine who are true and who are false prophets?” Jesus answers this question as He continues, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Having delivered an entire teaching on the subject of righteous judgment and the Christian mandate to use it, Jesus’ sermon crescendos with a beautiful parable where those who use righteous judgment are likened unto a wise man who “built his house upon a rock.”
Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
What a beautiful transition this teaching makes into the subject of spiritual peace—peace from the storm. What is the result of our unwillingness to judge between good and bad thoughts? A sinking boat full of panicked fishermen. Or with regard to corporate peace, in this particular parable of Jesus, the result is a house collapsing under the pressure of rain and wind. Moreover, on a corporate level, Jesus suggests that the unwillingness to judge between good and bad people during the Christian experience will result in wolves, goats, dogs, and pigs—nearly everything except what is supposed to comprise the flock of God…sheep!
If the shepherd’s only job was tending the sheep of God, things would be fantastic. Sheep are distinguished from other barnyard animals in that they are exceptionally peaceful and harmless. But there are other animals that all good shepherds must face. In the fields, there are always wolves, bears, and dogs to deal with, and when the shepherd returns to the barnyard near his home, goats and pigs. Jesus was always painting pictures with His words. When making reference to certain types of people, He compared them to specific animals on more than one occasion.
All Dogs Don’t Go to Heaven
Dogs are symbolic of several types of deviant people throughout scripture. For example, in Deuteronomy 23:18, the word “dogs” is a reference to homosexuals. In Proverbs 26:11, a foolish man who returns to his sin is likened to a dog who returns to eat his own vomit. Isaiah the prophet referred to his false prophet competition as ignorant, dumb, lazy, greedy dogs who couldn’t even bark! (See Isaiah 56:10 & 11.) Then we have a recorded account of Jesus’ personal encounter with one such spiritual dog in the following passage:
Matthew 15:22-28 “And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
This woman met rejection from Jesus until her penitent humility and faith was made evident through her worship and willingness to admit that she was, for all practical purposes, a dog. We glean from this story that there is hope for spiritual dogs if they will come to themselves and realize their need for cleansing from wickedness. However, the scriptures suggest that the account of this dear woman, who found grace in the sight of Jesus, was the exception to the rule. (How rare it is in this life to meet such conscious desperation for God.) While this woman’s desperation gave way to personal humility and worship, in most cases, human desperation births greater evil as man feverishly grasps for relief through the lying pleasures of carnal life. Furthermore, a great warning to all would-be dogs is given in the Book of Revelation, as the final destination of spiritual dogs is revealed. It is here that we discover the frightening truth that all dogs, perhaps most, DON’T go to heaven.
Revelation 22:14-15 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are DOGS, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
Pigs are an interesting symbolism in scripture. An attractive woman who appears to be incapable of making intelligent moral decisions is likened to a pig in Proverbs 11:22. A backslider is called a “sow” in 2 Peter 2:22. You see, Satan will never leave the flock of the local shepherd alone. He will always do whatever he can to deceive and destroy, even if it means dressing up like a sheep and sneaking into the flock. Why? Because Satan is terrified of a church walking in the power of corporate peace.
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
The difficult part of being a good shepherd in these situations is that sheep almost never recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but good shepherds always do. A good shepherd will take his cane and bash a wolf’s head to bits to protect his flock, but when the sheep see this happen, it appears to them that their shepherd has just struck a fellow sheep! Sheep often can’t understand when the shepherd is protecting them and are usually upset by what appears to be brutal and hateful actions. It is important to recognize and appreciate that God has placed pastors in our lives, not only to feed us, but to protect us.
While some spiritual dogs may make heaven by the skin of their teeth through repentance, spiritual wolves won’t. There isn’t a whole lot of difference between a spiritual dog and a spiritual wolf. The most obvious variance is that one is wilder than the other. (Note: In the culture of Jesus, dogs were rarely considered pets. While some were cared for as puppies, they were generally left to fend for themselves as adults. Wolves, on the other hand, were wild and untouched by human hands—much like today.) Satan will stop at nothing to stir up strife, offenses, and rebellion. I suppose that is why I admire God’s pastors so much; they suffer a lot of abuse from people and still love them when the dust settles.
Sheep are such loving and gentle animals, but in the spirit realm, it only takes a moment for a sheep to turn into another animal. For example, if you allow someone in authority to offend you, and you refuse to get over it; you’ll become another spiritual goat wandering on the fringe of the local church flock. “Do you mean to tell me that if I get offended and don’t forbear and forgive that I will become a spiritual goat and go to hell for it?” Well, Jesus warned Peter about this progression in Matthew 18:35. You can be a precious sheep one moment and another animal in the next! Just entertain a deviant thought long enough, and before long, you’ll act on it. If you continue to act on wrong thoughts, you’ll become a dog or a pig. Presumptuously decide that you are called to the five-fold ministry without going through the proper channels, and you’ll become a spiritual wolf who misleads God’s children into peril. (See Matthew 7:15 and Acts 13:2 & 3.)
I know of a Bible college instructor who submitted his cat’s name on an ordination application to a mail-order “ministry” and got his feline “ordained” as a preacher just to make a point to his class. The teacher certainly got his point across. That cat was no more a minister than some people I know who are running around calling themselves “apostles” and “prophets.” The Bible refers to these types as spiritual wolves. Ordination comes from God, just like the institution of marriage comes from God. For example, until a proven minister in the local church sanctions a marriage and pronounces you man and wife (down here on earth), even God WILL NOT recognize your marriage. I’ve heard people say, “God destined for us to be man and wife before we even met each other!” Hey, that is really wonderful! But if you fornicate before the preacher DOWN HERE ON EARTH pronounces you man and wife, the same God that destined for you to have been joined in marriage before you were even born, will judge you in your sin.
The same is true of entering the ministry. Ordination comes from God; and until a proven, seasoned minister in the local church recognizes your calling and publicly lays hands on you in the church to release you, even God will not sanction your ministry. If you sidestep your local pastor and go to some institution or mail-order catalog to get “ordained,” the Lord will judge you in your rebellion against delegated authority, as surely as He will judge the usurping ministry that aided and abetted you. I’m talking about folks with a valid calling, too.
There are far too many ministerial organizations and para-church ministries in our day that do not show proper honor to the local church. They ordain men and women THEY HARDLY KNOW into the ministry, who may or may not have a valid five-fold calling from the Lord. It’s a disgrace. Jesus is building STRONG LOCAL CHURCHES! (See Matthew 16:18.) He is NOT building ministries that unilaterally exist OUTSIDE the local church and undermine local church authority!
As I studied the scriptures concerning those who are called “goats,” I discovered two frightening truths about them:
#1) You must first be a BELIEVER to be qualified as a spiritual goat.
#2) Spiritual goats will go to hell.
Jesus said, concerning BELIEVERS who live stubborn, rebellious lives:
Matthew 25:29-34, 4 “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the UNPROFITABLE SERVANT into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, AS A SHEPHERD DIVIDETH HIS SHEEP FROM THE GOATS AND HE SHALL SET THE SHEEP ON HIS RIGHT HAND, BUT THE GOATS ON THE LEFT. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
In reference to this passage, Finis Dake writes, “Sheep and goats were allowed to feed together by day but were separated at night.”1 I believe every church, even the best church in the world, has goats that marble their congregation. The important thing, child of God, is that you make sure you are not one of them; because goats don’t go to heaven! Consider Jesus’ prediction of spiritual goats (believers) being cast into the lake of fire in the light of what He said in the seventh chapter of Matthew:
Matthew 7:21-23 “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.”
James, the brother of Jesus, writes concerning “goat” believers:
James 2:19-20 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
Jesus preached repentance. It was the first message to be uttered from His lips. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (See Matthew 4:17.) The word “repent” that Jesus used in His first public sermon was from the Greek word “metanoeo,” which literally means, “to change your attitude and actions concerning sin.” It denotes the idea of taking on the same attitude toward sin as God Himself. This opens up the very can of worms that needs to be opened in the sight of the church today; because there is a prominent teaching that, by its very nature, has made obedience to this command of Jesus next to impossible. How? You see, if Jesus has commanded us to view sin with the same perspective that God has toward it, then we are rendered incapable of true repentance if we are taught things about sin that are untrue. There is a common belief that literally makes it impossible for us to see sin like God sees it. It is the teaching that says, “Sin is sin is sin. One sin is just the same to God as any other sin.” Not only is this teaching completely false, it is spiritually crippling to believe. Why?