There are books written about heaven. Movies have been made about it. Is it a real place? Some people just assume that everyone goes there. At funerals we usually hear it said that the deceased is in a better place. John 14:3 says that when Jesus ascended from his earthly existence he was going to prepare a place for us. Revelation 21-22 describes a utopian paradise of everlasting existence with God. There are a few individuals who have died and come back to tell about it. Some of their stories fit the description. How does one get to heaven? Are there conditions?
First of all, we must address the false beliefs that some have. People do not make it to heaven by doing good works, going to church, following some religious rituals, or even by helping the poor and needy. One cannot earn his or her salvation, even though some religions teach that. Getting to heaven is not based on activity but rather on a person’s attitude toward God.
A person must have an attitude of humble repentance and recognize God’s place in their life. Giving God his rightful place and accepting his Son, Jesus Christ, as the way, the truth, and the life, is a prerequisite. This is not popular today, but Jesus himself said it, and since he would not lie it has to be true. I John 5:11-13 makes it very clear. “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
You see, readers, it is all about Jesus, not religion, church denomination, or living a good life. And it is not just believing that Jesus existed. I John 4:2 and 15 say that we must confess that Jesus is the Son of God in the flesh. This is the starting point for eternal salvation and for discerning truth from error as is stated in verses 1-3. It says in these verses that anyone who does not believe this has been deceived. That means they have a false hope of going to heaven.
From this point comes open confession as stated in Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.” It must become personal. Recognize that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead for you, even if you were the only one living. Jesus, by the way, was the only religious leader in all of history who rose from the dead. Salvation and going to heaven come from having a personal relationship with Jesus. This is where a lot of religious people miss it. They don’t see the distinction. Those who have a relationship with Christ are religious, but not all those who are religious have a relationship.
Going to heaven is not universal nor automatic. Sorry, folks, there is a narrow way we are told in Matthew 7:14, and few there are who find it. Be one of the few.