In another difficult question answered, we've been thinking about an answer to 'Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?'
"But what about the good Jew or Muslim? Can't they go to heaven, too?"
Perhaps, like me, you have come across this question before. And, it's a fair question for people to ask. We all have friends, family members or colleagues who are not Christians, yet are loving, kind, generous people - maybe they donate to charity or help the homeless, for example. Surely, such good people should go to heaven too, despite not being Christians?
As Christians, we do not deserve to go to heaven any more than anyone else does -whether that be Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or people of any other worldview - and it is very helpful to make this truth clear when talking with our friends who are not Christians about Jesus. As Christians, the only reason we can be confident of going to heaven is because of the grace God has shown us, not because of any good deeds we have done in our lives (Ephesians 2:8-9).
1. The problem: people are spiritually dead because of sin
The apostle Paul makes it perfectly clear that all people have a sin problem (Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 3:9-18). This means that whether you were raised in a Christian home, a Muslim home, an atheist home, or any other home, whether you help an elderly lady cross the street or volunteer at a soup kitchen, you have a problem that needs to be solved. The problem is so grave that Paul describes people as 'dead in their trespasses and sins,' and are therefore 'children of wrath.' This means that people will be judged for their sin, that is, they will not go to heaven.
2. The solution: Jesus makes spiritually dead people alive
So, if sin is the big problem preventing people from getting into heaven, what solutions do we have? As we saw above, we were dead in our sins (i.e. spiritually dead), which means we can't do anything to reverse our 'deadness' - we cannot raise ourselves to life; we need a miracle: we need to be brought to life, which is exactly what God did for us with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6). So, only a person who has been raised with Christ can get into heaven. How do we know if someone has been spiritually raised from the dead for life in heaven? They have faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8). The absence of faith signals the absence of life-producing grace that leads to heaven.
3. So, Jesus is the only way to heaven
Since heaven is something that is not earned, but rather graciously given by God and received by us through faith, we have to be lovingly honest with those who do not yet know Christ: Yes, Jesus is the only way to heaven. Perhaps they too by God's grace may come to saving faith in Christ, thereby inheriting eternal life in heaven.