Questions. The are simple questions, dumb questions that don't really need an answer, and some that are of utmost importance. For instance, take these questions:
Is there a heaven? If so, is there a hell?
If there is a heaven, am I good enough to be let in? Am I bad enough to be shut out?
If sin determines what place I go to, how can I have hope if I am a sinner?
Although these questions might seem uncomfortable, they are important because they can determine someone’s eternity. So, they need to be asked and answered.
Is there a heaven? And if so, is there a hell?
Some would say there is no way to have answers to questions like this. And, only using what we know about this world, they are right. Take this question – is there a heaven and hell – for example. It is easy to prove the existence of a place on earth. We can prove the Eiffel Tower exists because we can go there, talk to people who have, or seen pictures of it. Heaven, however, is not on earth. It isn’t even in this universe; therefore, the principles found in this realm won’t work to prove or disprove its existence.
But, God knows. He created the spiritual realm — heaven and hell — so He knows about them. And, He has given us answers to the most important questions about these in the Bible.
The Bible tells us that heaven and hell do exist. Revelation 20:11-15 tells us about the last judgment and describes hell as being a lake of fire. Then the last two chapters of the Bible, Revelation chapters 21 and 22 describe what heaven will be like. There will be streets of gold, the river of life, and gates of pearl. But, the most important thing about heaven is that it is eternal and that God will be there.
More importantly, the Bible also tells us how we can be sure to go to heaven and not hell. This brings us to our next question.
Am I good enough to be let in to heaven? Am I bad enough to be shut out?
The answer to this question isn’t found in how “good” or “bad” a person is. “Good” and “bad” is relative to whom or what a person is comparing themselves. For example, a person might be a good prison inmate while another might be a bad member of an honor society. Measuring up to a standard is why some people are considered good and others bad, and standards vary from person to person and place to place.
God, however, doesn’t vary and neither do His standards. His standard is perfection because He is perfect.
Since He is perfect, He is holy. And, since He is holy, heaven is also. To get into heaven, the standard that a person must reach is God’s, and that standard is to be perfectly holy. In Revelation 21:8, we see the standard that it takes to get into heaven by describing who will not be there:
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars —their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
God and heaven are holy. People, on the other hand, are not. We might consider ourselves good while comparing ourselves to each other, but God looks at the heart and finds sin in everyone’s. Look at what the Bible has to say:
“For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
“Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?" (Proverbs 20:9)
Think about it. Everyone sins – big sins, little sins, sins of the heart, sins on accident, sins on purpose – the fact of the matter is that everyone sins. Everyone can do good things, but the point is that everyone also sins. This is a problem because heaven is a perfect place, and any sin keeps someone out. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And, this brings us to the next question.
If sin determines where I go, how can I have hope if I am a sinner?
Can a person have hope? Yes! This is where Jesus comes in! Jesus was God’s Son who willingly died on the cross to take our sin. As Jesus took our sin, He gives forgiveness. And, since Jesus has wiped out our sins with forgiveness, we can now be considered righteous to get into heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says,
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus takes our sin, and we take His righteousness. No, it isn’t a fair trade, but it was something that God was willing to do because He loved us.
The Biggest Question
Now here’s the big question. It is a wonderful thought that God loves us enough to forgive anyone of any sin and give them eternal life in heaven. But, that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to go. What if someone just didn’t want to go? Would it be fair to force them? What about someone who hates God and refuses to be forgiven. Would sending them to experience the same rewards as others be just? Of course not. The biggest question is this: how can I have forgiveness and eternal life?
God has provided everyone with the chance to have eternal salvation, but it is up to every person to decide if they will accept it. Jesus said:
“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 3:17-18)
So, how does someone accept Jesus? Let’s go back to the Bible:
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Being saved, or going to heaven, is not about being good or being religious. From the verse above, it is about three things:
Realizing we need God’s forgiveness because we are sinners,
Believing (wholeheartedly) that Jesus died and rose to provide that forgiveness,
Confessing our sins to God to be forgiven.
It is our hope that you have believed that Jesus died and rose again, and that you have confessed your sins to Him. If you haven’t, it is our hope that you would. If God loves you enough to send His Son to die on your behalf, He surely has enough love to listen to your prayer and save you. You can even pray and believe as you are reading this.
We would really love to hear from you if you have any questions. We will do our best to answer them from the Bible because it is the only way we can answer spiritual questions. We also would like for you to join us as we learn and go together, especially if you have recently accepted Jesus. So, let us hear from you!
Your friends at Friends in Faith!