“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”James 2:19
How does someone get to heaven? What is the requirement for admission into the Streets of Gold? What has to happen in order to bridge the gap between a human and God? Many religions claim to know. Many religions (particularly Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) claim that the relationship between humanity and God has been severed and needs to be reset, but what do they say must take place in order for that to be completed?
See, almost all religion can be summed up in one sentence: humans, through grit, inner-strength, and self-righteousness attempt to earn their way or prove themselves to god (or to gods). This statement, however, stands in shady contrast to the method of salvation found within the Christian Scriptures. Shown numerous times throughout both the Old and New Testament, the way someone goes about mending their relationship with God isn’t by stirring their inner-good-person to follow the rules. The situation described by the Bible is one where all people, everywhere, are absolutely incapable of “earning” anything in the sight of God. Hence, “When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). There are many calls to obey and submit, yes, but is submission and obedience the same as “following the rules” and “sticking to the books”? Not according to the text. The Word describes all people as in a helpless position, in the sense that, no matter how hard someone tries, they cannot do anything to make God love them more or do anything that makes God indebted to them.
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.Romans 3:20
So, how does someone get to Heaven then? Or, here’s a better question, how does someone get to personally know God, the Creator of the Cosmos? It seems now that no one has hope, so is there any?
Amazingly, there is. The main focus of the whole Bible is on this one Person, this one Figure who seemingly changes everything about the lives of each human that comes into contact with Him, whose Name is Jesus. The Bible makes it clear (in John 1, read it!) that this same Jesus is the man-image, the exact manifestation of God Himself. Jesus is God, who has come to set people free from their sins and set them free from their terrible footing in the sight of the Father. Through His death on the cross, when He took the sins of everyone, the payment He made with His blood, and His resurrection on the third day following His death, everybody who has faith in Him “may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.Romans 3:23-25
So it is clear, by the Bible, that it is not by our human works, deeds, actions, or words that get us a right relationship with God. It’s not our religiosity or rule-following that get us a gold star on our spiritual report card, but it is by having faith in the Lord, Jesus.
What does it mean, though, to have faith? Is faith simply believing God is real? Is it believing the facts about the Bible, that there was a historical figure named Jesus who was highly influential? Is it nodding your head to the religion of your parents?
What does it mean to “have faith?”
Well, to have faith means (in plain terms) to believe what God says in the Bible. It means to believe that God is good, that He came to the earth as a human and died a sinners death, paying for the sins of the world, and He will judge each one of us on judgment day. These are truths which, when actually believed, will spur the believer on to live according to those beliefs, i.e. to have faith. For example, if when Susan reads and understands “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16) and there is no shift in attitude towards God and herself, she isn’t truly believing God’s statement about her, and therefore does not have faith. This goes with all Scripture. One does not have faith when they selectively choose the verses they wish to “believe.” That is not faith, that is cherry picking, and it does not lead to a fully satisfying relationship with the Lord, but instead, a half-hearted acknowledgment to a veiled being one refers to as “God.”
So, faith is the only “requirement” (according to the Lord Himself!) needed for a personal relationship with God. How wonderful is this! How amazing it is that the Great King hasn’t loaded tons of weight onto the backs of his followers, making them try to “be good,” which eventually leads to arrogance, despair, (and eventually death) but has openly requested that all we need do is lay our lives at his feet and trust in His Name. That is the Good News!
I pray the Lord Jesus may bless you through these wonderful truths.