Assume there’s a college you’d like to attend. Which of the approaches below do you think could aid in your gaining admission?
1) You study hard, then submit your transcript to the college. The college responds, and asks you to take care of some deficiency; you do that, and reapply. You're accepted and sent a letter of admission with all necessary information. The day college starts, you show up at your assigned dorm, and the rest is history!
2) You study hard, wait until the day college starts, then show up at the admission office with your luggage and transcript in hand and the ‘HOPE’ that your transcript will be good enough for you to be allowed into college. The admissions officer tells you face-to-face that your transcript is not good enough, and besides, admission is closed until the following year.
Which of these two approaches was wise? Clearly, option one was the wise one, but why? Because the student in option one planned ahead, and actually had an admission letter that confirmed his acceptance to his school of choice.
The student in option two left his admission to chance; he was hoping, but had nothing concrete on which to base that hope. As you can see, he missed his opportunity to attend the college of his choice; what a tragedy!
In the same way, as important as going to heaven is to most people, some of these same people do not make the necessary preparations. They leave everything to chance. They make statements like, "I hope my good outweighs my bad." Who said anything about weighing, anyway? Heaven is God's dwelling place, and He decides the rules of admission. So, just as prospective students have to follow the requirements for admission to the college of their choice, people who want to get in to heaven have to follow God's laid-out process.
So what are God's requirements for gaining admission to heaven? God's requirements are stated in the Bible, the only authentic Word of God. In it, we learn that we're all sinners, and that sin has made a separation between God and man. In order to bridge the gap, the Bible says, there's only one Mediator between God and man--the Man Christ Jesus (see 1 Timothy 2:5-6). Also, it tells us, by grace we've been saved through faith, not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast (see Ephesians 2:5-9). In other words, man cannot do anything to merit forgiveness from God. Forgiveness is based strictly on God's grace; it cannot be earned. All that's required is for man to admit guilt and ask for forgiveness through Christ Jesus. That's all it takes to enter heaven.
To those who take this step, the Bible offers this assurance: “I have written this 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 NLT). So you don't have to wait until you die to find out if you made it. If you wait that long, it will be too late to fulfill the requirements, and like that second student, you'll miss the opportunity to enter heaven. How tragic!