Have you ever heard people say, "I could never be good enough to get into heaven; I've messed up too many times"?
Well, they're exactly right! On our own, we can do nothing to get into heaven. Even if someone is "righteous" in many people's eyes, the Bible tells us that our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
So how can we get into heaven since we are sinful and God is sinless? Sinful people aren't allowed into heaven, are they? No, but forgiven people are! God, in the most sacrificial act in the history of the world, sent his sinless, perfect, only Son to die on our behalf--even though we are sinners--so we can spend eternity with him.
Life in heaven is a free gift!
The Bible calls what God did an act of grace. The word "grace" means gift. Salvation from our sins is freely provided by a God who loves us despite our sinfulness. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
You cannot earn, learn, or deserve salvation. It is not a goal to achieve, but a gift to receive. Salvation is rooted in the mercy of God, not the merit of mankind. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But there is a problem...
We are all sinners.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Every person has broken God's commandments. Though you may be a "good person" in the eyes of others, you know in your heart there is something wrong. We often fail to do the things we really should, and we do the very things we shouldn't. We "fall short" of God's high standard, which is perfection. Jesus said, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
But no one is perfect! We have all sinned and therefore cannot save ourselves by simply living a good life. The very best we can do is not enough.
Because God is holy, he must punish sin.
God cares about you to the extent that he is expressing his love to you right now. But he is holy, totally unique, and without sin. It's our sin that separates us from God's love. His righteousness demands that something be done about our sin problem, for God says that he "will by no means clear the guilty" (Exodus 34:7).
God cannot simply dismiss sin or admit sinners into heaven because that would violate his own holiness and break his own law. So, God had a dilemma. How could he love us and at the same time judge our sin?
The answer is the greatest news ever shared.
God solved the dilemma in the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is God's unique Son who came from heaven to earth to reveal the love of God for you. He is more than just a man, though he was fully human. Jesus was not merely a man of God, but was the God-man--100% God and 100% man.
The Bible declares that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1, 14).
The ultimate demonstration of Jesus' deity is the cross and resurrection. In that great act of love by dying on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sins and purchased a place in heaven for us that he now offers as a free gift. He took our place of judgment, and the wrath of God that burns against sin fell on him: "For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God"(2 Corinthians 5:21).
What does all this mean?
Man can receive God's forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
The Bible boldly declares, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). Only by belief--faith--can we know God's love and forgiveness.
Saving faith involves a choice to turn from whatever you may have hoped would save you and instead place your complete dependence only upon Christ Jesus to save you from the consequences of your sin. Faith means that you trust in Christ--nothing more, nothing less, nothing else--for your salvation.
If you've never considered yourself good enough for heaven, all you have to do is accept God's gift of grace that he gives through the sacrificial death of his Son. Then let Jesus' righteousness pay for all your sins in full!
Are you trusting in Christ alone for your salvation? If you desire to have this certainty of salvation, you can receive Jesus Christ right now by expressing your faith through a prayer like this:
Jesus, I am a sinner and I need to be saved by your grace. I turn from trusting in myself, and I look to you who alone can forgive and save me. I know that you died on the cross for my sin, that you were buried, and that you rose again so I can have everlasting life. Come into my life, Christ Jesus, and make me the person you want me to be. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
Did you really mean what you just said? If so, let's see what Jesus says about what you have just done: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has everlasting life" (John 6:47).