For many years I pictured God sitting up in heaven keeping a behavioral scorecard on me. “Good! Jim gave money to the poor. That's worth at least 5 points on the goodness scale, but on the other hand he wasn't nice to that checkout clerk. That's clearly minus 2 points.” My idea was that if somehow I did enough good or more good than bad I would get into heaven. Many believe the same thing; that's it's all up to how much good we do in our lives. Unfortunately no one can tell you how much good you need to do. I once had a sincere (but misguided) priest tell me that you just do the best you can and hope for the best.
I was probably 35 years old or so before I heard (or recognized) the truth: Going to heaven is not based on what I do or have done, but rather on what
what Jesus did on the cross and my faith and trust in him. Ephesians 2:8 says “we are saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Jesus Christ]”. I still remember how I utterly shocked I was when this visiting priest said that eternal life was not based on what we did, but on faith in Jesus Christ. For someone trying to earn his way into heaven this really rocked my world. But when I read the Bible it was clear: no matter what I did I would never be able to earn my way into heaven As I grow in my Christian life this becomes more clear to me every day.
You see, we can never do enough good to justify ourselves to a holy, perfect God. When the prophet Isaiah (whom we would consider a very good man based on human standards) found himself standing in front of the living God he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) When Isaiah was confronted with the perfect holiness of Almighty God he was “undone”. He recognized his utterly sinful state in comparison to the complete purity of God and he was beside himself. He saw that he could do absolutely nothing to make himself acceptable to God.
Because we have all sinned there is nothing we can do to restore our place with God. We have all sinned and fallen short of his standards (Romans 3:23). But by trusting in Jesus Christ and his sinless life and his death on the cross bearing our punishment we will have eternal life. That too is why Jesus is the only way. He was the only one to ever live that perfect life and the only one that we can trust in for our salvation.
You don't have to wonder if you're going to heaven. The Bible tells us, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) You can be ASSURED of everlasting life if you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You don't have to wonder! You don't have to do the best you can and hope for it all works out. Eternal life is as easy as turning away from your past life (repenting) and giving your heart to Jesus Christ. Don't wait! Do it now!