Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, was asked if those who died in the explosions of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but had not confessed Christ as Savior would go to heaven. She replied:
In my little book Heaven: My Father’s House, I tell about people who want to visit my father’s home in western North Carolina. They drive up the long drive and come to the gate. They knock on the gate and say, “Billy Graham, let us in. We’ve read your books, we’ve watched you on TV, we’ve written to you, and we want to come to your house.”
And my father says, “Depart from me, I don’t know you. You’re not a member of my family, and you’ve not made any arrangements to come.”
But when I drive up that same driveway and knock on the gate, I say, “Daddy, this is Anne, and I’ve come home.” The gate is thrown right open, and I go inside, because I’m the father’s child.
Because heaven is God’s house, He has the right to decide who comes in and who stays out. He says He will welcome anyone inside his home, but they have to be born again into his family through faith in Jesus Christ.
That gives us a wonderful hope that when the time comes – whether death comes as a thief in the night, as it did for those in the [World Trade Center] towers, or as an angel of mercy after a long illness – we can be assured that at the end of the journey, we’ll step right into our Father’s arms. We’ll be welcomed there because we are our Father’s children.
– Anne Graham Lotz, “Finding Meaning in September 11”