Do I have to be a Christian in order to go to heaven?
Many people confuse the word “Christian” with a person who goes to church, or a person who lives in the west, or a person who owns a Bible. All of these things may be good, but they do not define what a Christian is. A Christian is someone who has come to put his or her faith in Christ for the forgiveness of his or her sins according to the following (and other) verses found in the Bible, which is God’s word:
“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)
If then, we define a “Christian” as being someone who goes to church, or someone who lives in the west, or someone who owns a Bible, then the answer to the question, “Do I have to be a Christian in order to go to heaven?” is “no”. You do not “have” to do those things in order to go to heaven. Because going to heaven is not ritual, but relationship with the living God, who sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on your behalf (paying the penalty for your sins and mine).
Thus, simply “doing things” or “following certain rituals” will by no means assure you a place in heaven. Indeed, there are probably many people who go to church who will not be in heaven. There are many people who live in the west who will not be in heaven. There are many people who own a Bible who will not be in heaven.
But, if we define Christian by our second definition, (“a person who has come to put his or her faith in Christ for the forgiveness of his or her sins”), then, according to the Bible, yes, you *do* need to be a Christian in order to go to heaven when you die. You do need to trust in Christ. And there’s no other way. Here’s why:
Jesus claimed to be the only way to get to heaven. He said, “No person can come to the Father [God], except by me.” (John 14:6). That is a very strong statement to make. Here, he is claiming exclusivity in being the *only* means by which a person can go to heaven. Of course, if he is God, as Christians believe that he is, then he has the right to make a statement like this!
Here are some other claims of Jesus that you might want to consider, concerning him being the only way to be able to get to God. Think about them, and meditate upon them today. As you read them carefully, please ask God to help you to understand them in their proper context, especially if you have not yet come to “that place” in your life where you have been utterly convinced, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ *really is* the one that he says he is: The son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. God bless you as you do!
“1 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. 9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:1-18)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6b)
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25b-26)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21)
Now, what do *you* say about Jesus?
(Some answers to consider…)
“Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'” (Matthew 16:16-17)
“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54)
“And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.'” (Mark 3:11)
“… these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
It’s never too late! If you have never put your faith in Christ for the complete forgiveness of your sins, then do so today! You’ll never be the same!