How To Get to Heaven
According to the Christian Bible
One popular religion teaches, or at least many of
its adherents teach, that a quick and guaranteed way to reach
that religion’s concept of heaven is to commit suicide
or otherwise die in such
a way as to cause the death of a maximum number of Jews. Another,
less popular religion guarantees its version of heaven to those
who successfully traverse one million years of successive, sufficiently
spiritual reincarnations. The Christian Bible, the Old Testament
of which is the Jewish Bible, teaches a uniquely different method
of attaining heaven, a method of which vast numbers even of
people who consider themselves to be Christians are entirely
ignorant. This paper cites the King James translation to describe
the Biblical method. Italics in the
quotations indicate words that do not occur in the original languages:
the translators added them to satisfy English-language exigencies.
The Bible offers
two places to spend eternity:
Many of them that sleep in the dust of
the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and
some to everlasting shame
and contempt [Daniel 12:2].
Although some people have other ideas, the two
Biblical destinations are heaven (“everlasting life”)
and hell (“everlasting shame
and contempt”). Would you like to
know that you have done precisely what the
Bible requires to be among those who “shall awake …
to everlasting life”?
Everyone has sinned.
A single, universal problem causes many people to doubt that they will go to
heaven: “For there is no man that sinneth not”
(1 Kings 8:46). The problem is that everyone has sinned,
including me, unfortunately; and if you are not the unique
exception, you have the same problem! So what happens to
us sinners? Do we go to heaven anyway?
Sin brings the death penalty.
Sinners do not obtain everlasting life and go to heaven; instead,
“Every man shall be put to death for his own sin”
(Deuteronomy 24:16). This penalty is
spiritual death: “The wicked shall
be turned into hell” (Psalms 9:17).
Since everyone including me has sinned, and since sinners deserve
hell, do we therefore have no choice but to go to hell?
The Koran (Quran, Qur’an)
provision seems fair. According to the Koran
(Quran, Qur’an) (vii, 8, 9; xxi, 47),
Allah compares our good works with our bad works by
weighing them on a set of balance scales. If the good works
outweigh the bad, we go to heaven; if the bad works outweigh
the good, we “are firewood for hell”
(lxxii, 15, Pickthall translation)! This method might seem
logical, but it has at least three problems:
1 Pity the poor fellow who has
only one or two more sins than good works. While he screams,
“Please! Let me have just one more little chance!”
Allah stokes the fires of hell with him!
2 You might think
and hope that you have more good works than sins, but you can never
be completely certain that you have enough good works to
ensure that you will go to heaven.
3 If you have only
a few sins and could take them to heaven with you, those sins would make
heaven no better than earth!
The Biblical standard is very strict.
The God of the Bible is so holy that he cannot abide even
one sin in heaven, since by its very nature
sin separates him from us: “Your iniquities have separated
between you and your God, and your sins have hid
his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2).
So if vast quantities of good works outnumber my sins, I would
still deserve hell; only with
zero sins can I go to heaven. So if Sarah
is shot through the head with one bullet and Samuel with 24
bullets, they are both equally dead; Samuel is not
“deader” than Sarah! Or if one glass of water contains
a single typhoid bacillus and another contains one million, you
wouldn’t want to drink either one unless
all of the bacilli were removed. Sin is like
that: the first sin killed me spiritually and the next million
did not make me any more separated from God. Since everyone has
committed at least one sin, the problem is that no one deserves
to go to heaven—and God would seem to be very lonely!
Only if he takes away
all of my sins—and yours, too—can we
go to heaven! But is God prepared actually to take away our sins?
The Solution I: God’s Provision
Someone takes away our sins. In fact, God
has provided a substitute to take away our sins from us:
“The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us
all” (Isaiah 53:6); “he bare the sin of many”
(verse 12). The substitute then pays the death penalty
which God demands for our sins: “He
was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities”
(Isaiah 53:5) as an “offering for sin” (verse 10). But
who is this substitute willing to take upon
himself both our sins and also the punishment for them?
The substitute is Jesus.
Although thousands of individuals have founded religions, only
one has ever even claimed to die in order to take away your
sins and mine. The New Testament reveals his name:
“The next day John [the Baptist] seeth Jesus coming
unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). So the substitute
who “bare our sins in his own body on the tree”
(1 Peter 2:24) is Jesus (Hebrew
Yeshua; some people mistakenly call
him “Yeshu”). No one else took our sins upon
himself and died for them: Jesus has no competitor! God’s
requirement is a single death for our sins, either Jesus’
or ours; he does not accept two deaths for one person’s
sins. So if Jesus had your sins on him when he died, you cannot
die spiritually and go to hell. But if he did not have your
sins on him when he died, you still have them and you therefore
will have to go to hell to pay for them. You decide if you
want Jesus’ death to substitute for yours. If that is
what you want, and you do not want to die spiritually and to
go to hell for your own sins, then you need to know how to
allow Jesus to take them away!
The Solution II: Our Response
Jesus takes away our sins as a free gift.
It surprises a great many people who think that they believe
in Jesus, to learn that Jesus takes away our sins as a
free gift: “For the wages of sin
is death; but the gift of God
is eternal life through Jesus Christ
our Lord” (Romans 6:23). By definition, a free gift
cannot be obtained by working for it: “For by grace are
ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God: not of works,
lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). You obtain
this gift by the same method that you receive every gift: by
taking it! But although you have already experienced receiving
gifts like coffee and maybe even money, you have never before
received the gift of everlasting life in heaven; if you want
that gift, you need to know how to receive it.
The gift is Jesus himself.
The gift is actually Jesus himself: “This is the record,
that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life;
and he that hath not the Son
of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11,12). You
therefore receive the gift by receiving Jesus: “As
many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his
name” (John 1:12). Jesus said, “I am the way,
the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but
by me” (John 14:6). But how do we go about receiving Jesus?
We receive Jesus by inviting him to come into
our life. Jesus himself tells us how to receive him:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear
my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him”
(Revelation 3:20). You ask him to enter your life precisely
the way you ask someone to enter your house: you invite him
in! It suffices to bow your head and to close your eyes
(you don’t actually have to bow your head and close your
eyes, but it helps), and to say to him something like the following:
Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and that I
deserve to die for my sins. Thank you for dying in order to
take them away from me, and for offering me that benefit as
a free gift. I now accept that gift and invite you to come
into my heart to take away my sins. Thank you for just now
entering my heart, taking away my sins, and giving to me the
free gift of eternal life. Amen.
We now know that we will go to
heaven when we die. If you invited Jesus to come into your
life, he has kept his promise and has come in, and the first part
of 1 John 5:12 applies to you: “He that hath the Son
hath life.” The next verse also applies to you:
“These things have I written unto you that believe on
the name of the Son of God, that ye may
know that ye
have eternal life” (verse 13).
You now know (not wish, hope, doubt, think, wait)
that you have (not might have, could have, would
have, might get, will get) eternal life! By the way, if you
did not receive Jesus into your life but have read this far
anyway, then the second half of 1 John 5:12, a verse that
divides the entire human race into two groups, applies to you:
“He that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
The gift is permanent; we can receive Jesus
only once. If you received Jesus, you might want to
know, When will he leave me? The Bible records Jesus’
answer: “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus
never leaves you; you cannot send him
away! So you need only once to invite
him to come into your life. When you talk to him in prayer,
you never ask him again to come into your heart; instead, as
you bring your requests to him with thanksgiving, you can
thank him for having already come in.
Receiving Jesus gives us another birthday.
When you received Jesus you obtained eternal life. The obtaining
of life, or entering into life, is called
birth. Since you already obtained physical
life when you were born from your mother, obtaining this new,
spiritual life is thus a second birth. Jesus told Nicodemus,
a religious Jew, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except
a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”
(John 3:3), and added, “Marvel not that I said unto thee,
Ye must be born again” (verse 7). You therefore
ought to remember the date when you invited Jesus
into your heart, because that date is your new, spiritual
birthday in Jesus; one year later you will be one year old in
Jesus! You now have two birthdays every year—unless you
received Jesus on the date of your physical birthday!
Jesus wants us to tell someone! Jesus
does not want us to be ashamed of him and of what he has done
for us; he said, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and
of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed”
(Luke 9:26). And the Apostle Paul practically equates verbal
confession with heart belief: “If thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart
that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with
the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9,10).
God wants you now to describe to someone else how he can share your
experience of receiving eternal life!