This article is based on what the Bible says - still the world's best-selling book (Google it and see). Check for yourself the scriptures quoted here. The Bible tells us where we came from, what we should do whilst in this world, and how we get to heaven.
So, what are these five commonly-held but mistaken beliefs on getting to heaven?
1. "I'M A GOOD PERSON"
Without the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ we are never good enough. Outside of Jesus there is no way to heaven, even for the most diligent worker for charity. Ephesians 1:7 says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” [underlining mine]
A person with Jesus’ salvation will be motivated to do good works; but anyone doing good works without faith in Christ will not be saved and enter heaven.
We need salvation because we are all sinners. The Bible says it in Romans 3:23: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We cannot be righteous before God and be forgiven except by faith and trust in Jesus. He said: "I am the way, the truth and the life; No-one comes to the Father except by Me." (John 14:6). Jesus shed His blood on the cross to take our sins. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace… (Ephesians 1:7)
As we trust and believe in Jesus, decide to follow Him, our sins are forgiven.
2. "I WAS CHRISTENED AS A BABY"
Some churches christen babies but it will not save the child. It is a non-biblical practice. A person has to be old enough to understand the gospel and respond to it. Obviously a baby cannot do that.
An infant can be dedicated to God in church in the belief he/she will be brought up with Christian principles by the parents. However, the baby has to decide when he/she grows older whether to accept or reject Jesus' salvation.
3. "MY FATHER WAS A BAPTIST, PRESBYTERIAN, METHODIST . . .”
“That makes me a Christian,” some may say. We do not inherit salvation. Everyone individually has to decide what to do about Jesus. We can believe, accept His great salvation, have sins forgiven and have eternal life - or disbelieve and have the wrath of God upon us (John 3:36). The Bible has a warning: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation." (Hebrews 2:3).
4. "I'VE GOT MY RELIGION"
Only faith in Jesus can save. He said it. Church attendance alone or belonging to a religious group will not save us. Only Jesus can. It was He who went to the cross and bled to save us. Jesus is much more than religion. He is the one who will judge us all at the end of our time in this world (Hebrews 9:27). Eternal life or death is in His hands.
5. "I'VE NEVER DONE ANY HARM"
Maybe, but it doesn't bring salvation. You probably aren't a thief, prostitute, murderer, but as we read in item 1 we are all sinners. "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6) That is, until we receive salvation through Jesus.
The following is a suggested prayer (it must be from the heart) "Lord Jesus, I admit I am a sinner. I repent now of my past. I believe you shed your blood to save me, to forgive my sins and give me eternal life. I believe you are risen from the dead. I ask you to be my Lord and Saviour. I decide now to love and serve you."
Then read the Bible to know who Jesus is and what He says. Start with "John" in the New Testament.
Find a church where Christ is foremost, then seek God's guidance as to how you can get involved there.