The question of how one gets into heaven (i.e. paradise) has dominated discussion in philosophical and religious circles since the dawn of time. Over the years, a number of ideas have developed, some of them spawning entirely new religious systems with hundreds of thousands or even millions of devotees. The adherents of these divergent perspectives are each convinced of the truth of their chosen belief system. But given their contradictory positions, it’s impossible for each and every one of these ideas to be correct.
While any number of textual sources claim to know the exclusive means by which people can enter heaven, only the bible has the authority to make a credible claim. Why? Because the bible is the only text in the world peppered with hundreds upon hundreds of fulfilled prophecies. These prophecies span multiple centuries and are attributed to numerous authors of varying backgrounds, circumstances, and writing styles. And yet, they all share one thing in common – an uncanny knack for precisely foretelling future events. No other text in human history can make this claim.
One of these prophecies, recorded in the Book of Revelation, states that nothing unholy will ever enter heaven:
“Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27 (NLT)
Given the bible’s track record, it’s safe to assume this is true. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter heaven, and only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will ever enter. If you die tomorrow, are you confident your name will be in the Lamb’s Book?
The overwhelming majority of people believe they will be welcomed into heaven simply for “being good.” The prevailing view is that if a person lives “a good life,” then God would have to be unjust in order to prevent that person’s entrance into heaven. But several major flaws exist in this presumption. For instance, what constitutes a “good life”? And by what standard is a “good life” judged? Are we to be judged relative to others’ lives or some unwavering standard?
The bible says that the standard for leading a “good life” is 100% righteousness. If this is the case, then most people should be less than confident in their ability to meet this standard. In fact, the bible clearly states that no human can meet this impossible standard on his own:
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)
Despite personal attempts to convince ourselves that we are righteous, the reality of the matter is that every one of us has sinned:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 (NLT)
And the bible is also clear that the penalty for our actions is nothing less than death, not eternal life in a heavenly realm:
“For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23 (NLT)
Every human being is a sinner, and the sentence for our sin is eternal separation from God Almighty. By this measure, all of humanity is destined for hell.
How Then, Can Anyone Be Saved?
The bible says that a person can not enter heaven no matter how momentous or numerous their good deeds, no matter how righteous they are in their own eyes or the eyes of the world. Jesus’ disciples were shocked to learn this news:
“The disciples were astounded. ‘Then who in the world can be saved?’ they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.’ Then Peter began to speak up. ‘We’ve given up everything to follow you,’ he said. ‘Yes,’ Jesus replied, ‘and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property – along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.’” Mark 10:26-31 (NLT)
As Jesus states, with God anything is possible. A person can have eternal life if he gives up this worldly life for the sake of Jesus and the Good News of His coming. Jesus Himself provided us with the perfect example of sacrificing one’s own will in this world in support of God’s will for us:
“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” John 10:17-18 (NLT)
But what does this have to do with eternal life and entrance into heaven?
This is where the bible’s prophecies take on new meaning. Not only do they validate the divine authority of the bible itself, due to the statistically significant number of them fulfilled throughout human history, but they also point to a savior capable of lifting mankind from its pit of despair. One such prophecy was recorded by Isaiah over 600 years before its fulfillment:
“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins.” Isaiah 59:20 (NLT)
If one who is blameless accepts the penalty and punishment for the sins of mankind, then it stands to reason that God will forgive us our debts and allow us to enter heaven. In fact, as we will soon see, this is exactly what happened.
Isaiah recorded a number of additional prophecies detailing the circumstances of mankind’s redemption by a single individual, a Savior from God:
“Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!” Isaiah 53:4 (NLT)
Isaiah prophesied the Redeemer would be weighed down with sorrow, because He would carry the burden of our sins.
“Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.” Isaiah 53:8 (NLT)
Isaiah also prophesied the Redeemer would be unjustly condemned, murdered for the sinful rebellion of God’s people.
“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)
The Redeemer is a man who will be pierced, crushed, beaten, and whipped in order to pay the penalty for mankind’s sinful rebellion. Amazingly, Isaiah recorded these prophecies more than 600 years before the Redeemer arrived in the flesh. He came as a light in Galilee, and He fulfilled His purpose as the Savior of all mankind, washing away the sin of all who believe in Him and making it possible for them to enter into God’s heavenly kingdom!
The Lamb of God
Each of the aforementioned prophecies reached fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus loved the human race so much, He laid down His own life as a sacrifice for ours. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul explicitly says so:
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
And Paul reiterated this truth in his letter to the Romans:
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)
Blameless is the eyes of God, Christ shed His blood as payment for the sins of mankind. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness:
“In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)
As a result, the reconciliation of God and man is only possible by means of this blood payment of sins. No number of good deeds can cover up the slightest violation of God’s law, so those who rely on living a “good life” for entrance into heaven are basing their entire life on a false premise. The only way to purify ourselves and become righteous children in the presence of God is through the blood of Jesus Christ:
“For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Colossians 1:19-22 (NLT)
Here, Paul decisively states that the blood of Christ makes us holy and blameless as we stand before God. As we learned earlier, nothing evil will be allowed to enter heaven. This includes all of mankind. However, a person can enter heaven if his name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The lamb is none other than Jesus Christ Himself, and all that’s required to inscribe your name in His Book is personal belief in Him:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)
Of all the knowledge in the world, none is more valuable or of greater importance than this.
Only One Path To Heaven
Innumerable starting points exist for those who will one day dwell in heaven, but in the end, there is only one path. The future citizens of heaven are the picture of diversity, coming from any number of backgrounds, religions, upbringings, races, “good and bad people,” and on and on. While the world may tell us that certain requirements must be met, or a specific path taken, in order to enter heaven, the bible reveals that only one path to heaven exists: the person of Jesus Christ.
Many paths can be taken, but all must converge on the blood of Jesus Christ before entering into heaven. Christ Himself affirmed this concept:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NLT)
If Christ is the only path to heaven, then how does a person get there? This same question was asked of Paul and Silas nearly 2,000 years ago:
“‘Then he brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.’” Acts 16:30-31 (NLT)
This is all that is required in order to receive salvation. However, the belief must be pure and from the heart. It can’t be a pretend belief merely acknowledged by the outside world. The Lord, who can read all hearts and minds, gives His gift freely, but in order to receive it, a person must be sincere.
“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.” Romans 10:9 (NLT)
For those who are sincere, God promises the right to become the children of God:
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NLT)
And everyone who trusts in Him will not be disappointed:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 (NLT)
The great question of your life is very simple. Either you’re for Christ or you’re against Him. There is no in between and no gray area:
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 (NLT)
His Love Is Fulfilled Prophecy
Christ fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Savior when He chose to give His life to redeem a fallen mankind. Because of Christ, we can have life:
“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” Ephesians 1:7 (NLT)
In fulfilling this promise, Jesus issued another. One day, both the Father and the Son will dwell with those who love Him:
“All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24 (NLT)
Where will they dwell? They will make a home with us in heaven, and the only gate of entrance is the blood of Jesus Christ:
“But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.” Isaiah 53:10-12 (NLT)
The fulfillment of this prophecy introduced the world to the glory of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you’re searching for the truth of how a person gets into heaven, then you’ve found the answer. Jesus Christ is the way.
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32 (NLT)
Have you acknowledged Christ here on earth? If not, why don’t you do so today by inviting Him into your life? You’ll be amazed at what happens next.
“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)