The question is related to several others: Does eternal life exist? Is there a God? What is his nature? Are we judged, and how? What evidence exists to support a given view? Depending on the answers, these can be the most important questions of our existence.
What you conclude is a matter of your conscience. Only you can decide for yourself based on the evidence what you can know to be true. Is the Bible is true and reliable? Of all religion texts, it has the most robust set of supporting evidence. Prominent books like the QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, and The Case for Christ present evidence in support biblical reliability. Others like Letter to a Christian Nation and Only a Theory attempt to refute their claims. Aside from books, the TrueU video series and the ICR and CARM web sites also lay out evidence for biblical reliability.
Which arguments hold up? Which are supported only by arbitrary assumptions? Decide for yourself. Is it important to decide? Is it worth your time? What follows is the gospel, the main message of the Bible, so that you know what's at stake.
The Bible says that we will all find God by being face-to-face with Him one day, and we'll each have to give an account for our lives. We don't know when that will be, but suppose it were today. Have you come to the place in your spiritual life that you know for certain that you would go to heaven? Or is that something you would say that you're still working on?
The Bible tells us that we can know for certain. It says, “I write these things to you… that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, ESV).
You may be wondering what the apostle John knew that could make him and his readers so confident. He knew he would someday stand before God. He knew what he would say if God asked him, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” Do you know what you would say?
Christianity differs from other faiths in that it teaches that heaven is a free gift. The Bible says, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Imagine someone gave you a Rolex watch as a gift. If you decided to offer that person $20 for giving you such an expensive gift, what would that watch no longer be? It would no longer be a gift. You just got a great deal on a Rolex watch! The same is true with heaven. We can't earn it. No amount of personal effort, good works, or religious deeds can earn a place in heaven for you.
The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Why can't someone earn his way into heaven? Because man is a sinner. The Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is transgressing God's law and includes such things as lying, lust, cheating, deceit, evil thoughts, and immoral behavior. Just think: if I were to sin just 3 times a day, in one year I'd have over 1000 sins. If I lived to be 72, I'd have over 72,000 sins. Imagine walking into a court trial with 72,000 speeding tickets. The judge would quickly lock me up.
Because man is a sinner, he cannot save himself. If you wanted to save yourself by good deeds, do you know how good you would have to be? The Bible says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). That's a tough standard. Even if we're 99.9% good and only 0.1% bad, God still cannot let us into His heaven.
Think of it in terms of an omelet. Let's say you were having company over and decided to make an omelet. You used 6 good eggs, but the 7th was rotten. You couldn't serve that omelet to your guests even though most of it is good, and just like that omelet, we can't serve our life up to God. Do you see why it is impossible for anyone to earn his way into heaven by being a mostly good person?
In spite of our sin, God is merciful and therefore doesn't want to punish us. The Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). But the same Bible that tells us that God is love also tells us that God is just and therefore must punish sin. God says he “will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7), and “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).
There would seem to be a problem: God loves us and doesn't want to punish us, but at the same time, God is just and must punish our sin.
This didn't catch God off guard. He solved this “problem” in the person of…
The Bible says He's the infinite God-man: fully God and fully man. It says, “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1,14) Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life.
While on earth, Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave to purchase a place for us in heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
If sin is not dealt with, it separates us from God. Thankfully, the Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. ” (Isaiah 53:6). With my sin laid on Jesus, God sees me as righteous and invites me into His heaven. Jesus Christ bore our sin on the cross and now offers you eternal life (heaven) as a free gift.
This gift is received by faith. Faith is the key that opens the door to heaven.
Just as a person can't open a door with the wrong key, no matter how sincere he may be in trying, there is no substitute for genuine saving faith. Many people mistake two things for saving faith.
Saving faith is resting upon Christ alone and what He has done rather than in what you or I have done to try to get us into heaven. The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
You have just read the greatest story ever told about the greatest offer ever made by the greatest person who ever lived, Jesus Christ. The question God is asking you now is if you'd like to receive the gift of eternal life. This involves transferring your trust from what you have been doing to what Christ has done for you on the cross and making Him your Lord and savior. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
When you trust Jesus as your savior, the Holy Spirit will begin transforming you to give Christ the “driver's seat” (not the back seat) of your life, leading you to repent of sin and turn from anything that is not pleasing to Him.
These are the claims of the Bible—the gospel of Jesus Christ and its impact on eternity. This is what is at stake regarding the big questions of our reality and what you believe about them. Jesus put it this way: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47)