Heaven is a free gift. There is nothing we can do to earn or work our way into heaven. The Bible says "for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). Nothing we could ever do would be good enough to get ourselves into heaven.
Because we are all sinners. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". We have all gone a little too fast on the highway or had a bad thought about another person, and that is sin. Sin is also not doing something we're supposed to do, like filing our income tax returns. So, where does God fit into all of this?
God is righteous and holy, and He must judge our sin. When speaking of God, the Bible says in Exodus 34:7, "but who will by no means clear the guilty ...". Imagine we go to the bank, and rob it. Now, we have all this money, so we go to our local discount store to buy some supplies. As we are leaving, the police surround us. When we are brought before the judge, we tell him "We're really sorry we robbed that bank, Your Honor, and we'll give it all back! We didn't spend any of it." Will the judge let us off? Of course not, and neither will God.
While God is righteous and holy, He is also loving. The Bible says in 1 John 4:8 "God is love". God loves us! Isn't it amazing that the Creator of the Universe loves YOU and me? This leaves God with a problem. God is righteous, holy, and hates sin. But He also loves us poor sinners. God solved His problem in the person of Jesus Christ.
Who is Jesus? He is the eternal God-man. He wasn't part God, part man; He was completely God in a human body. The Bible says "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:1,14). God came to earth as a human, and lived a perfect life: Not one bad thought about someone, not even one teeny little lie!
Jesus' reward for His perfect life was death. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He went through terrible agony that we can't even begin to imagine, but the story doesn't end there. Three days later, He came back to life and is still alive today. After His resurrection He appeared to many people, including His followers (called disciples). Among the disciples was a man named Thomas. The first time Jesus appeared to the disciples, Thomas wasn't with them. When they told him what had happened he said, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." Eight days later Jesus again appeared to the disciples, and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and God!" (John 20:24-28). Before Jesus died, He called out "Tetelestai", that's a Greek word that means paid in full. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to buy our place in heaven. He did all the work, and there's only one way we can have our home in heaven. We have to have faith.
There are different kinds of faith. Intellectual faith is believing there is a God. It's like believing Abraham Lincoln was a great president. He was a good man but he's dead; he can't do anything for us now. Just believing that there is a God isn't enough. In James 2:19, the Bible says "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder". Temporal or temporary faith is having just enough faith until we get out of trouble. It could also be called airplane faith. You know, you're up in the air and hit that pocket of turbulence. Your first thought is, "Dear God, please get me out of this airplane, and I'll do anything You ask, honest!" But, as soon as the plane lands, we tend to forget about those hastily whispered, frightened prayers. What kind of faith is the right kind?
Saving faith is when we stop looking to ourselves for answers. It is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. The Bible says in Acts 16:31, ". . . Believe (trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved . . .". Imagine you are sitting in a room with your chair and a couch across the room. That couch looks a whole lot softer than the chair you're sitting on, but will it hold up when you sit on it? You could weigh the pros and cons of moving to that couch all day, but the only way to really know if it will hold you is to get up and go sit on the couch. You're moving your trust from the chair that will hold you to that comfy couch which may or may not hold you. Yes, the couch will hold you. In the same way, now you need to trust that the price Jesus paid on the cross is enough. Just like the couch, though, you won't know for sure until you try.
Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life? It's really very simple. You have to transfer your trust from what you have been doing to what Christ has done for you on the cross. You must repent of your sin of unbelief and believe that Jesus is the only way to God (Romans 10:13; John 14:6). If this is what you want, all you need to do is pray. Praying is just talking to God. You don't have to use any fancy words; you can use the prayer below or just use your own words.
Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and don't deserve eternal life. But, I believe You died and rose from the grave to purchase a place in heaven for me. Please, come into my life; take control of my life; forgive my sins and save me. I repent of my sins and now place my trust in You alone for my salvation. I accept the free gift of eternal life that begins today. Thank you for loving me God. I love you, Lord. Amen.
Once God has given you eternal life, there isn't anything that can take your place in heaven away. The Bible says in Romans 11:29that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.