If you want to be forgiven of all of your sins and know God personally than this article is for you. The length of this article is simply for clarity of meaning so as not to confuse the reader. The extensive quoting from Scripture is given in order to show clearly what the Scriptures teach - i.e. what God says about how a person is “saved” (from sin and its consequences).
What does God want us to be saved from?
God wants you to repent and turn away from of your sin. The just penalty that you deserve for breaking God’s Law is physical and spiritual death. God wants you to be spared from the divine justice that your sins deserve. God wants to spare you from death and save you from the coming judgment upon unbelieving, unrepentant sinners.
God also wants you to be saved from spending eternity apart from Him in a real place called hell. Hell was created for the devil and the fallen angels who rebelled against God. God does not want you to go to hell. God has provided a way of salvation!
Here is the Good News!
God sent His one and only unique Son, Jesus Christ, to be a sinless Substitute to die in your place. He did this so that you would not have to suffer the just wrath of God. Yes, we all deserve to die physically and spiritually because we have all broken God’s Law. But the Good News is that Jesus Christ can save us from eternal separation from God.
If you want God to give you His gift of eternal life and the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die, please keep reading and find out what you must believe. God is willing to save you no matter how many sins you have committed – but you must come to Him on HIS terms, not your own.
What must we believe in order to go to heaven?
God’s way of salvation is called the Gospel – or the good news. There are some things in the Gospel you must know about and believe.
1. You must believe Jesus is God the Son.
Simply put, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the Eternal God of the Universe. The Bible teaches that those who want to be saved from their sins must believe not only what the Scriptures say about Jesus, but you must believe in Jesus.
Jesus said: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he [Eternal God], ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24). The Apostle Paul said about Jesus: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men…” (Philippians 2:6-7).
Jesus speaking to Philip, “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” (John 14:9).
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, [Truly, truly] I say to you, Before Abraham was [ever sprang into existence], I am [Eternal God]” (John 8:58). Here, Jesus was referring back to Exodus 3, verses 10-15, where Moses was standing before God at the burning bush. Moses asked God for His name, “And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you....And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.’”
In John 8:58 Jesus was claiming to be the “I Am”, the Eternal God who brought Moses and Israel out of Egypt.
Jesus Christ will one day come and judge of all mankind. In Matthew 25:31-34, Jesus claimed that He alone will come back at the end of the world and be the Judge of all mankind: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...”
For a man to be excluded from Heaven on the last day, all that will be needed is for Jesus to say, “I never knew you.” Sadly, many people who have professed to be Christians, perhaps because of good works, good church attendance, or being ‘a good person’, will be banished from God for all eternity. It is not enough to know ‘about’ Jesus, a person must know Jesus personally.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and my Father are One.” In the Greek language, “one” is neuter – not one person, or one in thinking, but one in essence or nature]. “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:30-33).
John 1:1-3; 14 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made....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 1:18 says: “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
Mark 14:61, 62: “But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the Blessed [God the Son]? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.’”
Jesus Christ is God manifest in human flesh and He, who is God, is able to forgive sins. Consider Mark 2:5, 10, 11: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.’... But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
Again, Jesus is the Eternal God who has come to deal with our sins and to save us! Matthew 20:28 says: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” And Acts 16:31 says: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
2. No matter how good you think you are, you have still sinned and broken the Law of God. You must be willing to admit that your sin has separated us from God.
Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10 says: “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one.” Isaiah 53:6 says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death [spiritual separation from God now and eternally]; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Bible makes it clear that not one human being is able to live up to God’s standard. Only Jesus Christ could do this. He was able to do this because He is God. None of us, no matter how hard we try, are able to live up to God’s requirements of total perfection. For this reason, we are all found guilty before God and are desperately in need of forgiveness.
3. Are you good enough to get into Heaven? The Bible says we need to be perfect…but we have all sinned!
God expects nothing less than absolute perfection… total 100% perfection. God alone is Holy! Jesus said, “I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Although the Pharisees did much more than others to live righteous lives, they still sinned against God.
A few verses later, Jesus went further and said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Are you perfect? None of us is perfect! Therefore we die like those who have gone before us. So how do we get into heaven?
4. People and demonic spirit beings who say there is no judgment are liars. When we die, the Bible says we will be judged by God.
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…” [Not reincarnation, soul sleep, absorption, transmigration or extinction]” (Hebrews 9:27).
“For not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified [declared to be without sin]” (Romans 2:13).
5. If we’re going to be judged according to how we have obeyed God’s Law, how are you doing? Have you lived a perfect life?
In Exodus 20:3, we find the Ten Commandments. God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Anything you put before God makes you an idolater, anything! All people have at one time or another been idolaters, except Jesus of course.
God said, “Thou shalt not kill [murder].” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus said, if you hate someone in your heart, you’ve broken that Law. God said, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16). When was the last time you told a lie? Little lie or big lie…a lie is a lie. One little lie is enough to keep you out of heaven for eternity.
Coveting can be described as an intense desire to have what someone else has. God said, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass [donkey], nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” (Exodus 20:17).
“Jesus said unto him, ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.’” (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Matt 22:37; Deut 6:5). Have you broken this commandment? Every human being has except for Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul declared: “Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law” (Romans 3:20).
6. Can’t I try to make up for your sins?
No you can’t! Even if you lived perfect from here on out, you have still broken God’s holy law. The penalty must be paid and your good works won’t erase the sin! “It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy Christ saved us” (Titus 3:5). “By the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20).
7. All humans have broken God’s Law’s and thus are guilty of sinning. How then can we get into heaven when we are so guilty? How could God allow me into Heaven?
The Apostle Paul says: “But now a righteousness from God [a righteousness we need and don’t have] apart from law [apart from our keeping the Law], has been made known,...this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21, 22).
Another way to ask question 7 is: How can I become as perfect as God in order to get into Heaven? You can’t do it by yourself! The Good News is that God Himself made the way. Jesus has provided the way of salvation through His own life, His blood atoning sacrifice for sins, and His death, burial and resurrection from the dead. He did so by doing two things:
1.He provided a Substitute to pay the penalty for all of our sins. Along with this, God provides the righteousness we need as a gift, the moment we believe in Christ.
2.The Substitute God provided to pay the penalty for our sins was through Jesus’s death on the cross. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Jesus was the “righteous” One. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He paid for the sins of the unrighteous [you and me] to bring us to God. Every sin we have ever sinned, all of your sins and mine, were legally imputed to Christ’s account on our behalf. Jesus took our place on the cross and satisfied God’s wrath in our place. “God made him who knew no sin to be sin [a substitutionary offering for sin] on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Notice the great exchange –God imputes our sin to Christ’s account - and at the same time imputes Christ’s righteousness to our account.
Jesus knew no sin –that is, He never committed any sin of His own. Jesus died in our place so that we might be credited the righteousness of God “in Him.”
Isaiah 53:5-9 declares: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
And read what Isaiah 53:10-11 declares: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
God’s wrath was put upon Jesus in order that we might go free!
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17).
8. But how will God credit Christ’s righteousness to me, a sinner?
The moment you trust wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ to save you, the perfect righteousness provided by God Himself will be given to you. Romans 4:5 says: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted [reckoned, credited, counted] for righteousness.”
Understand this clearly! God justifies [declares righteous] ungodly [the ‘unsaved’ are considered wicked before God] people who place their faith in Christ alone for salvation. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of [in] Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference...” (Romans 3:22). This is Good News indeed!
9. But what about the blood of Jesus Christ?
The Bible says, “And almost all things are by the law purged [cleansed] with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins].” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus Christ shed His very own blood in order to cleanse us of our sins: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6).
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:12). And, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” (Hebrews 13:12).
“But God commendeth [demonstrates] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10).
Simply put, it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from our sins.
10. This all sounds too simple?
This seems too simple and too good to be true. Do you mean to say that I don’t have to do anything? I just have to put my trust in Christ and believe that He will save me, forgive me, and give me eternal life? The answer is yes! Obviously one must make the willing, conscious choice to repent of sin and believe in Christ, but it is through trusting in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ alone that saves us. We cannot add to God’s grace by our own works of righteousness. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved from God’s wrath, our own sin, and an eternity in hell separated from God. According to Ephesians 2:8, 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
Biblical grace is God’s unmerited favor given to sinners who don’t deserve it. The Greek word for grace, which is charis, can be described as “Absolute freeness of the loving-kindness of God to men, finding its only motive in the bounty and freeheartedness of the giver.” In this case God is the Giver and we are the receivers. We receive God’s grace, we do not work for it. For if we worked for it, it would not be called grace, it would be called works. Sadly, many people try to add to God’s provision.
Again, a person is saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Anything else is a false Gospel because salvation would then be a human works oriented Gospel.
11. And what about the Resurrection?
The resurrection is part of human history. Jesus Christ rose from the grave. He conquered sin and death and is living today! You must believe that He is risen and that He lives!
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter,and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 14:1-8)
12. So why would God want to provide this gift of grace for me?
Simple, God loves you! God’s desire is that people would be saved from their sins and the consequences of sinning. It is because of God’s great love that He sent Jesus to die in our place so that we the guilty could go free. And Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death so that we too might live through Him. Jesus is our Savior and The Only Savior of mankind.
“But God commendeth [demonstrates] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). “For the wages of sin is death [spiritual separation from God for all eternity]; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. (Romans 6:23). “For He [God] chose us in Him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).
13. How many ways of salvation are there? Has God provided only one way of salvation?
There is only one way to receive the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] by the Spirit…” (1 Peter 3:18). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).
“As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:9).
14. How can I receive Christ into my life?
You can receive Christ into your life by personally trusting in Him and being born of His Spirit. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Jesus also said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:10). And Paul the Apostle said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
You must simply turn away from your own sin and cry out to God in prayer, believing like a little child that God is able to save you and forgive you.
15. You must believe wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ and trust in Him. You must believe what the Bible says He has done for us. Jesus saves us and delivers us in His righteousness.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40).
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:29).
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2).
16. Is faith a feeling? How much faith do I need?
Faith is not a feeling. And trusting Christ is not about how much faith you have, but whether or not you have faith in the Great God of the Bible who is able to save to the uttermost. Little children believe their parents with childlike faith. We need to believe God and trust what His Word says. His Word says to trust in Christ.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him [Jesus], seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25).
17. What is saving faith?
Saving faith is belief that is true belief. You belief the Bible is true and you act on it. Meaning, you trust in Christ and do what He says and what the Bible says. Jesus said:” Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24).
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40).
We are saved because we are persuaded that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the God-Man, and that He paid our debt by His shed blood on the cross. Simply put, if we are not persuaded that Christ has paid our debt, there can be no assurance of saving faith; and no assurance of eternal salvation.
18. You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Prayer is talking to God with true sincerity of heart.
God knows our heart and is concerned with the attitude of our heart. The following is a suggested prayer, not some formula to be spoken by rote, but rather, something to seriously consider and take to God in prayer in the privacy of your own will.
You can ask God from the sincerity of your own heart to forgive you, save you and fill you with His Holy Spirit. We have simply put the following ‘sample prayer’ here so that you can acknowledge and clearly understand how a person can pray to God and ask for salvation. This is not some formula that is just to be glibly spoke by rote. Again, it is a 'sample prayer.'
Jesus, I believe that You are fully God and fully man. I know that I have sinned against you. I know that I have sinned by my own choice and that I alone am responsible for my sin. I know that I cannot save myself. I also know that I deserve to be punished by You because I have broken you holy law. I understand that the fair punishment for sinning against you would be physical death and eternal separation from You, from your life giving Spirit, and from heaven for all eternity. I understand that to not receive you as my God and Savior would result in me being banished to hell forever.
Lord Jesus, I believe that You satisfied the righteous requirements of God’s Holy Law in my place. I believe that you satisfied the justice of God by paying the complete penalty for all my sins, past present and future. I believe that You shed your blood in order to cleanse me of my sins and purge my guilty conscience. I believe that you are the propitiation for my sins - that you satisfied God’s wrath in my place. In doing so, I believe that You died as my substitute on the cross, that your were buried, and that You rose from the dead on the third day. I want to reject all of my own ideas and the world's ideas that say I can help or assist in my salvation. I also want to reject the idea of trying to ‘forgive myself’.
Jesus, I believe that You died in my place according to the Scriptures, that were buried, and that on the third day You rose from the dead according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). I believe that you conquered sin, death and the Devil. I want to repent of all my sins and my own way of life and I want to receive You Jesus Christ as my own Lord, God, and Savior. I want to be saved by Your grace alone through faith alone in You, Your life, death and resurrection. I want to cease trusting in anything else for my salvation. I want to become a child of God just like the Bible says and to receive the FREE gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life, just as You promised in your Word. Please cleanse my guilty conscience and allow the Person of Holy Spirit to come and live in and through me. Lord Jesus, please show me how to live this life in a way that is right and pleasing to You and please also give me a burning desire to read Your Holy Word. Thank You God for Your forgiveness and for saving me from myself and from my sins! I ask this in your Name Jesus, Amen!”
19. How do I know that Jesus Christ is in my life?
If you have fully entrusted yourself to Jesus Christ and have believed in Him to forgive you and save you, the Scripture says that you have eternal life. The Apostle John wrote: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13).
Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup [dine] with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20).
If Christ is in your life, know that He will never leave you nor forsake you. “… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name…” (John 1:12).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
[The text on this page has been adapted and slightly reworked, by permission, from the Ankerberg Theological Institute.]