If you were face to face with God and He asked you why he should let you into Heaven, what would you tell him?
- Would you tell him how much money you gave to charity?
- Would you list all the people you were nice to?
- Would you show him your spotless criminal record?
- Would you remind him of how often you went to church?
If you did all those things, would God let you in? What is God really looking for?
Consider this story Jesus told:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee [a Jewish religious leader] and the other a publican [a tax collector, usually corrupt]. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.'” (Luke 18:10-13).
Which man do you think Jesus would like us to be more like? Consider the very next words he spoke:
“I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
Consider the difference between these two men. The religious leader had many accomplishments that he thought were evidence that he was a righteous man. The tax collector on the other hand had no accomplishments to speak of before God. He wasn’t proud of his righteousness, but was fully aware that his only hope was to beg for mercy from God. Yet, Jesus tells us that the second man is the one who will receive Heaven.
If you ask anyone on the streets what you have to do to make it to Heaven, chances are that they will tell you that you have to be a good person or have some kind of religion. According to them, going to Heaven is difficult and must be earned. But that’s what the Pharisee believed, and he was wrong- going to Heaven is easy.
Just like the publican, you must recognize your need for mercy from God and then simply ask for it.
Getting saved isn’t about the things you do, but the condition of your heart. Don’t trust in your good works to save you. The bible says “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6). Filthy rags. Any good thing we think we do is nothing compared to the list of sins we have accumulated throughout our lifetimes, and the penalty for sin is always death, which means an eternity in Hell. If you wanted to get into Heaven on your own, you would have to live a perfect life, which means your actions, words and even your thoughts must be perfect.
But getting to Heaven is easier than that. You don’t have to live a perfect life because Jesus already did, and when he died on the cross he took the punishment you deserved for you. He did that because he loves you. But he won’t force you to accept him-he wants you to choose him by your own free will.
Consider what the apostles told their jailor when he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
“And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:30-31).
You can be saved too and be sure you are going to Heaven when you die. If you are honest about your need for mercy from God, here is one prayer you can use to ask for it:
“Dear Jesus, I know I am guilty of breaking your laws and need your mercy. Please forgive me of my sins and come into my life and be my savior. Amen.”