Most people seem to think God grades on a curve. If you try to be a good person and don’t make too many serious mistakes, you’ll probably be given an average or above average grade when you die, pass the course of life, and go to Heaven; if you’re below average, you fail, and, well …
That might sound like a fair enough arrangement, especially if you consider yourself a better-than-average person, but according to the Bible, it doesn’t work that way.
None of us deserve to go to Heaven. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) Anyone who thinks they’re good enough to make it to Heaven on their own is only kidding themselves—and they will miss out on God’s greatest gift. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
You can’t be good enough. You can’t earn salvation or work your way to Heaven. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:5)
So who needs it? Everyone!
What’s it going to cost me?
“Surely there’s a catch,” you’re probably thinking. “Surely I have to give up something, work hard, or do something to deserve salvation.” No, you don’t—and that’s the beautiful thing about salvation! “It is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) When have you ever had to earn or pay for a gift someone gave you? A gift is a gift. If you had to earn or pay for it, it wouldn’t be a gift.
Salvation is not a reward for good works. Your good works can’t get you into Heaven any more than your bad deeds can damn you to Hell once you’ve asked for and received God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice. You’re saved purely by faith in Jesus. You just have to accept the fact that you couldn’t possibly pay enough to buy your way into Heaven, and then humbly accept God’s gift. It’s as simple as that.
Are there any sins too bad for God to forgive?
God wants to freely forgive everyone for every wrong they have ever committed. He says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon,” (Isaiah 55:7) and, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17) He wants to forgive everyone, and the way to experience His forgiveness is to believe in Jesus. (Acts 16:31) “He who believes in [Jesus] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
When people hear the truth—God’s plan of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice, explained in terms that they can understand—the Holy Spirit speaks directly to their hearts and brings them to the point of decision. If they believe and accept Jesus as their Savior, their sins are forgiven; but if they willfully refuse His forgiveness, God’s hands are tied. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19) This deliberate rejection is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which God cannot forgive. (Mark 3:28–29) God has given every person the majesty of free choice, and He will not override their decision to reject His offer.
Of course, just because someone rejects the truth the first time they hear it doesn’t mean they’ll never be given another opportunity to make the right choice. Many people get more than one chance. Still, the Bible tells us, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) “For you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)
How much faith does it take?
You’d be surprised how little faith it takes to receive God’s gift of salvation! God doesn’t expect you to have great faith in something you know so little about and understand even less, and it’s impossible to understand or appreciate salvation, really, until you’ve experienced it. All it takes is enough faith to concede that Jesus could possibly be the way to salvation, and a sincere desire to let Him prove Himself to you. If you only have enough faith to pray, “Jesus, if You really are real, and if You really are the way to salvation, show me,” He will! If you’re convinced enough by what you’ve heard about salvation to give it a try, He’s given you all the faith you need to be saved.
“Why must I ask Jesus into my heart?” you may ask. “Why do I have to use that name? Why can’t I just pray to God and find salvation that way, through His name?”
Because Jesus is the only One who came to earth and gave His life for you. Jesus said, “I am the door”—into His Father’s house, the kingdom of God. “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” (John 10:9) So if you want to get to Heaven, you have to walk through Jesus, the open Door.
Jesus is also the only door. “There is no other name”—no name but Jesus—“under Heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5) And Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) That’s just the way it is!
Then what about the adherents of all the other religions in the world? Can’t they be saved? Yes, they can all get saved, regardless of their religion. Even if they don’t have any religion, they can still be saved—but only through Jesus.
Romans 3:10 (ESV) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Hebrews 12:6 (ESV) For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”