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What Does It Take To Get Into Heaven – Part 1

A Biblical Christian Worldview

There is an illustration I have used numerous times, likely originated by Francis Chan. It involves unwinding a long string across a room and marking the last inch with a black marker. The illustration focuses on the difference between our life on this earth (black mark), and the reality that we are immortal beings. We are destined to live for eternity in either Heaven or Hell (represented by the rest of the unmarked string). 

As an adult, we will make an average of 35k decisions per day (a child makes 3k). That’s nearly a billion in an average lifetime. Most of those decisions are small and inconsequential. Some have more impact on our future lives, such as our education, our job, buying a house, etc. However, of all the decisions we might make in a lifetime, there is only one that will impact where we go at the end of our lives on this earth (Matt. 25:46). The reality is that our time on this earth is but a brief moment, a flash, compared to eternity (James 4:14). Therefore, the biggest decision we will ever make in life is “What Does It Take To Get Into Heaven”?

Will we spend eternity in Heaven or Hell?

Relative to its size, the Bible does not focus on this question. Nor does it provide a very detailed picture of Heaven. Scripture is more of a book on Christian history and a manual for living the Christian life on this earth. However, chapters 20-22 from the book of Revelation do provide a brief picture of what it will be like on the other side of the grave. While steering clear of as many eschatological minefields as possible, it can be summarized as follows:

  • 20:1-6 The thousand-year reign of Christ (Rev 20:2).
  • 20:7-10 Satan defeated and thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10).
  • 20:11-15 The Great White Throne of Judgement (Rev 20:12, 15).
  • 21:1-27 The New Heaven and the New Earth – New Jerusalem (Rev 21:3-4).
  • 22:1-21 Jesus is Coming, to be forever with us (Rev 22:30).

So, of the one billion decisions made in our lifetime, there is only one that will determine our life on the eternal part of the string… The last verse in Matthew sums it up well…

  • Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Righteousness comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or being “Saved” or “Born-Again” (John 3:3).

Salvation

Given its eternal importance, the Bible does speak clearly and consistently to the question of how one can obtain eternal life with God in Heaven. Scripture also speaks to the impact of a relationship with God while we remain on this earth. 

The American Heritage dictionary defines Salvation as – eternal, deliverance from peril (the penalty of sin), redemption. 

There are four major outcomes from being saved.

  1. We have a greater ability to discern right from wrong (Rom. 2:15).
  2. We have a higher capacity to show love and resist sin.
  3. We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor. 1:22).
  4. We will spend eternity in Heaven.

How Does One Get Saved?

The traditional answer to that question is often taken from Romans 10:9-10. 

  • Romans 10:9-10 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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Seems so simple, doesn’t it? We acknowledge Jesus Christ is both Lord (in control) of our lives, and that His work on the cross (death and resurrection) has paid the penalty for all our sins, regardless of how bad they were. 

We say a short prayer, perhaps go to church, do some good deeds, maybe share our newfound beliefs with someone, and we have a ticket to Heaven for eternity, right?

Does that feel right? Is all that enough? 

The Bible talks about the few that will truly find eternal life in Heaven. 

  • Matthew 7:13-14 Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Also found in Luke 13:23-25.

And then the Bible predicts that there will be many who say they are Christians but will be rejected by God. 

  • Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Also, a similar statement is made in Luke 13:26-28.

Finally, Scripture states that Biblical Christians should KNOW and have an assurance that they are saved.

  • 1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

It all boils down to our faith and our belief in who God is and what His son did for us on the cross. Our eternal life hinges on our faith and belief. 

How Much Faith and Belief Do We Need and EXACTLY in What?

This is a profound question that Christians are not supposed to ask. We are supposed to pray a prayer and then live a life of love and submission to God. We are assumed to have the Holy Spirit living within us, and trust that we are going to Heaven simply because we acknowledged we were sinners at some point in our lives, and consequently needed God’s forgiveness. “Part 2 -How Much Faith Do We Need” of this short series will cover the reality of the Christian life and offer some guidelines on what saving faith really looks like on the outside and feels like on the inside. 

Jeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org

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