How do I get to heaven?


Many people think the way to get to heaven is to simply live an absolutely perfect life with no sin and always — without exception — do the right thing. That’s it. But I'm guessing you would you say, “I can’t do that.” And you would be right because you’ve already sinned. This makes things look sort of bleak, right?

Being sinless is hugely impossible, not to mention how difficult it is to do everything absolutely right. Yikes! None of us can do it! However, there is one person who did do it — Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God. He lived an absolutely sinless, perfect life and was sinless at his death. In a great exchange, Christ took imperfect lives and substituted his own perfect one. He took all the sins of his believing people and gave them his own flawless righteousness. Because the penalty for sin is death, he had to die to do this! But he did this willingly because of his great love for his people.

We can’t do enough good works to cancel out all the bad deeds we’ve already done. As a matter a fact, we can’t do good works at all. Many would object to this saying, "What? I may not be a Christian but I gave such and such to Billy. I’m taking care of his mother. She has cancer, you know. And I gave $5000 just this past Monday to his family. I helped the children’s cancer fund as well. See? I’m good!”

No, not really. While these were very kind and generous acts, they aren’t good works by God’s definition. The problem is that unless these good works totally honor God and only him, in God’s eyes they aren’t really good at all. In Romans 8:7-8, Paul says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.“ See, there it is! Without Christ, none of us can please God. Does this sound like another bummer?

But if you don’t have any good works, how then can you make it to heaven? Many would also say that all roads lead to heaven, but they are also wrong. Not everyone will go to heaven. In the end, many will be left behind and go to another place called hell. It’s a real place. Jesus actually said more about hell than he said about heaven. There’s only one road, one way to heaven, and that's through Jesus Christ. We're told in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. "And John 3:36 reads, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

That’s the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. Christians simply believe in Christ. They don’t go to heaven because they are any better than non-Christians. And they sure aren’t sinless. As a matter of fact, many Christians have committed some of the most terrible sins in all of history. Just in the Bible we know about David who committed adultery, and to hide it from his lover’s husband had him killed in a battle. Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, caused the deaths of Christians. Would you say these were good guys? And yet, by the mercy of God, they were enabled to believe.

I hope you understand that there is something more important than heaven. I hope you realize that "something" is actually a "someone," and that Someone's name is Jesus because this is how you get to heaven. He is the gate of enteral life (John 10:9). He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), and it is through him, by faith, that we access God’s grace. (Rom. 5:2).

So, that’s it. That’s how you get into heaven. That’s how you get eternal life, which is, well, eternal. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9), and that life will begin today. The way to get to heaven isn't so bleak after all.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).