A Scriptural Analysis of What it Takes to Get Into Heaven
Most people believe in life after death, and they earnestly hope to go to heaven when they die. Heaven has been described as a place of peace and serenity, and it has captured the imaginations of people worldwide. I have a friend who is always talking about going to heaven. On numerous occasions, he has told me that all good people go to heaven when they die. One day my friend was boasting about all of the good things he has done and how good of a person he is. As he boasted of his good deeds on this particular day, I abruptly interrupted him and asked, "If God were to ask you 'Why should I let you into heaven,' what would your answer be?" My friend was apparently taken by surprise by the question. It was the first time I had ever seen him speechless. He paused momentarily before giving me a list of all the reasons why he believed God should let him into heaven.
"If God were to ask me why He should let me into heaven," he said, "I would begin by telling Him that I'm really not a bad guy. I know people who are a lot worse than I am. I love my family, I never cheated on my wife, I try to treat everybody right, I go to church regularly, and I try to keep all the commandments."
"That's impossible," I said. "No one can keep all of the commandments."
"You're right! But at least I try," he said proudly.
I interrupted, "Do you honestly believe that because you do these things is reason enough for God to let you into heaven?"
"Of course I do," he replied. "Why wouldn't God let me into heaven? You just have to be a good person to go to heaven, right?"
"Not exactly," I answered. "I think you have to do a little more than just be good. I want you to think about this for a minute: In the Book of Matthew, chapter 27, and the 38th verse the Bible says that Jesus was crucified between two thieves, one at His right, and the other at His left. I'm sure you would agree that both of these men were 'bad' men because the Bibe says that they were both thieves. So if all a person has to do to go to heaven is be good, neither of these men has a chance to get to heaven.
"One of the thieves makes fun of Jesus as He is hanging on the cross, saying, 'If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.' But the other thief rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? We receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.' (Luke 23:39-43).
"Let me ask you, If being a good person will get people into heaven, why would Jesus tell a bad guy like the thief on the cross, that he would be with Him in heaven?"
"I can't answer that," said my friend. "Okay, what's your point?"
"My point is this: people have been hoodwinked into believing things that just aren't true. If we are going to know the truth about God and heaven, we've got to read the Bible for ourselves and stop believing the opinionated views of people who deliver what has come to be known as 'alternative facts.'"
God's Word versus Speculation
Like many people, there was a time when I believed that I would go to heaven if I was good. But that was before I started reading the Bible and studying the scriptures in their original Hebrew and Greek language. The Bible teaches that no one will go to heaven based on their goodness alone, but that a person "is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).
Too often we take the Bible out of context, interpreting from scripture things that are not really there, causing us to speculate or believe something other than what God said. In order to go to heaven, one must first attain eternal life. So what does the Bible say about attaining eternal life? The Bibe specifically says that the only way you can eternal life (be saved/go to heaven) is to "confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). It does not say that if you are a good person that live by the Ten Commandments and go to church regularly, you will be saved (go to heaven).
To be specific and straightforward, the Bible says "He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18), and again, "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).
The thief on the cross was not a good person, but before he died he chose to believe that Jesus was who He said He was, and just because he believed, he received the gift of salvation. The truth is, if you believe anything other than what God says, here's a news flash: heaven is not in your future.
The Answer that Will Get You into Heaven
The Bible gives us a glimpse into the future on that fateful day when God will ask every person who ever lived, "Why should I let you into heaven?"
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness' (Matthew 7:22-23).
One day God will ask you "Why should I let you Into heaven?" There is but one answer that will guarantee you access into heaven. If you are wise your answer should be: "You shouldn't, except that, I have placed all of my hope, all of my trust, and I have committed my life wholeheartedly to serving Your Son, and He said You would let me in."