For my foreign readers, an “ace in the hole” is a hidden advantage or resource kept in reserve until needed. The word comes from the game of poker where the Ace of Spades is the highest valued card in the deck.
God requires Man to enter heaven based on the law – that is, he must acknowledge his belief in God by faith and through repentance (changing his mind about himself and his condition) and confession of Jesus as Lord he now has access to what evangelists call saved. But as you might suspect, there are many who seem to slip into heaven by some back door.
God is Himself not under a Law
God is not under Law. While He has promised to make good on all His word, He also has some private caveats of His own.
God keeps as His prerogative the choice of whom He will bless. The most well-known of these are the Beatitudes in Matthew which list the many ways God blesses.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, (this refers to those who know they need spiritual infilling)
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, (the meek means those people who do not exert their will on God)
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. This is God’s ace in the hole.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
God also has special blessings for orphans and widows.
Special blessings allow God to by pass His laws
In actual fact many of these blessings, plus others throughout the Bible allow God to step in. The Jews realize that God saves some gentiles and refers to them as “righteous Gentiles” i.e. those whom God has approved but who have lived outside His formal law.
A person who ministers mercy to others is one special category. A passage where this applies can be found in Acts 10 where Cornelius, a man who honored the Jewish God but who was not biologically a Jew, was visited by Peter who brought the baptism in the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his entire household.
The Baptism is the New Testament sign of being under the covenant of Grace. That is, they were taken into the family of God despite their birth status and they received all that God had for them based on this man’s righteous acts.
BUT, what if Cornelius and his household had lived 100 years previously?
There would be no Peter to take the message, and no crucifixion of Jesus to open up the New Testament and His Church. Nevertheless, on the basis of mercy God would have accepted Cornelius and his house. This is why I, as a missionary, did not tell people their relatives were in hell. I don’t know the mind of God on the subject, and the living, not the dead, are my responsibility in any event.
Why ministers say, “May God have mercy on his soul.”
At the end of many a funeral service the minister intones, “May God have mercy on his soul.” This is the minister’s way of pulling up this ace. If this person has not been living right, and the minister may even be a stranger to the dearly departed, he asks God to consider mercy and maybe God will.
But, if you are not walking right, don’t count on it.
Exodus 33:19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
So it all boils down to His will.
See also this post. If God sends no one to hell…