Posted by Richard on February 23, 2009
An anonymous reader asks:
What do we, as people, have to do to be able to go to heaven?
First, a little warm up. God is perfect (Psalm 18:30, Deut 34:2, Matthew 5:48). God is holy (Psalm 77:13). There are many other attributes of God, but we’ll focus on these two. Sin is unholy. Sin is the opposite of perfect. To be in heaven is to dwell with God. Needless to say, that God does not permit anything sinful in his presence (Revelation 20:10). In order to be permitted into God’s presence, we would need to be sinless.
This, for humans, is impossible. Ever since original sin, the very nature of man has been sinful. Even sinful thoughts in our minds are sin (Deut 15:9). The consequence of this sin is death, or more precisely spiritual separation from God. There is an unbridgable chasm in sin separating us from God.
In short, there is nothing we, as people, can do (of ourselves) to get to heaven. (Romans 3:23)
Fortunately for us, God provided a proxy (that is, someone else to take our place in the punishment due to us) in Jesus. Jesus died to pay the necessary penalty for our sin, that by accepting and embracing his gift to us, we might have eternal life in heaven.
Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24, ESV)