The true, original way to heaven is described in the words of Jesus Christ and his apostles as recorded in the Bible. Jesus said:
“…whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26).
It almost sounds too simple doesn’t it? But it is simple. It’s the gospel proclaimed throughout the New Testament, and prophesied in the Old Testament. You can use this statement as a measure of all statements by organizations, churches, groups and missionaries today. Remember that Jesus did NOT say:
“whoever believes in me and joins church X and keeps all the commandments and all of our rules will never die…”
They may tell you that they are the only ones who can teach you how to live and how to follow Jesus: this is intended to draw you into their control. Please note that I am not saying it’s wrong to join a church, but that it is wrong to join a church which piles burdens onto you, or which teaches a different version of the gospel.
Certain statements made by Jesus have been mistakenly taught to prove that we must keep all the commandments in order to earn eternal life. However, these statements were made to people who were following the law of Moses, and not the gospel of Christ as preached in the New Testament.
Again, Jesus said:
“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” (John 3:16).
Heaven is a free gift from God to everyone who will accept his Son.
Paul, one of the apostles of Christ who “turned the world upside down”, wrote these words:
“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).
So the Biblical “good news” which describes what we are to believe in order to gain eternal life in heaven is this:
1 Christ-the Son of God-died for our sins, as prophesied for hundreds of years in Old Testament scriptures. We can be forgiven for all our sin because of Christ’s death on the cross;
2 He was buried;
3 He was raised from the dead on the third day;
4 He appeared alive to his disciples after his resurrection.
Contrary to the common view on the street, as promoted by Hollywood and by certain writers, the gospel, the scriptures and the essential Christian doctrines were not all invented hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth. The original gospel, as stated by Paul above, can be dated to the first century. For information documenting this, see my post “What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”
Those of us who believe that salvation comes by believing in Jesus, or to put it another way, that we are saved by faith alone, are often accused of thinking that we have a “license to sin”, meaning that we think we can live in rebellion against God as long as we just claim to believe. However, many of us know that Jesus said;
“If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15).
“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands” (I John 2:3).
We are saved from our sin and given eternal life when we put our faith in Jesus. We demonstrate and show that we have put our faith in him when we obey his commands. It is faith which saves us, because it is impossible, no matter how hard we try, to be perfect as God requires for us to live with him. God sent his perfect son into the world to be punished in our place. By accepting God’s son and living in him, we are associating ourselves with the one who has paid the penalty for our sin, and for that reason alone, God accepts us and gives us eternal life.
Jesus said “you must be born again” (John 3). By this he meant that we have to be born spiritually. When we take the step of putting our faith and trust in him, we are born spiritually into his kingdom. He comes to live in us and with us. You can take this step with a simple prayer, as long as you mean it. Tell God that you believe the gospel of his Son as stated above, and that you want to belong to him. Tell him that you want to turn from your sin and live in him. Read what God requires of you in the Bible. Then, if you notice in following days and weeks that you are really changing in the way you live and think, you will know that you are “believing and living in him”.