Most people believe they are going to go to heaven because they’re a good person. While they may in fact be a nice, friendly and kind person overall, Christianity doesn’t define heaven as a place we get to by being good.
In Christianity, going to heaven is defined as a gift of God’s grace to those people who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Not because of what they did or what type of person they were.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)
What do you have to do to go to heaven? The answer is to believe in Jesus Christ. But there’s a catch. What exactly does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?
When I was younger, I thought that I was going to go to heaven because I believed in the existence of Jesus Christ. However, that belief was comparable to my belief that Pelican’s exist. For me, it was nothing more than a tidbit of information that I accepted to be true and it had no impact on my life. I certainly did not have a relationship, at that time, with Jesus.
In Christianity we often say that it has to move from your head to your heart. Christians refer to this as faith.
“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:21-27)
The above verse shows that merely accepting His existence as a fact is not enough. Those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom of heaven. What is the will of the Father? It is to have faith in Jesus. It is to Love Jesus.
(photo credit: flickr creative commons, Lake Tahoe Emerald Bay by Donna & Andew)