Two Ways to Get to Heaven
Did you know there are two ways to get to heaven? That’s right. Believe it or not, the Bible actually gives us two options, or two different paths to heaven. I will describe them both here and let you decide which one is right for you.
The first is the way of the law. We find it in places like Leviticus 18:5, where God says, “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” When God says, “He shall live by them,” he means this is the path to life. You can find eternal life with God by keeping his commandments. Sounds great, doesn’t it? No gray areas to worry about. You even have a list you can go by… you know, all the laws and commands in the Bible. It’s really quite simple: keep God’s commandments and you’re in. As long as you don’t mess up, you’re good.
Oh, and by that I mean you can’t mess up at all. Not even once. Galatians 3:10 says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law.” And, as long as we’re on that topic, I must also tell you that James says when you break just one of God’s laws you’re guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10). Not to mention the fact that sin is not just doing things God told you not to do, but also failing to do the good God commanded (James 4:17). Oh yeah, and Jesus says you can sin in your mind even if you never carry out the action (Matthew 5:27-28). And I guess I should also tell you that if you’ve broken God’s commands even once you can’t really climb out of that hole. His standard is perfection.
So, anyway… that’s the first way. Good luck with that one, if that’s what you choose.
But there is a second. For those of us who know we’re in a deep hole we can’t climb out of… for those of us who feel hopeless and undeserving of God’s love… there is the way of grace. In this path God gives you salvation for free, as a gift! You don’t have to earn it. In fact, you couldn’t earn it even if you tried (you know, because you’ve already messed that up). All you have to do is receive it the way God asks you to receive it: by trusting in his son Jesus for your salvation, repenting of your sins, confessing Jesus as your Lord before others, and being baptized. And no, those aren’t ways of earning salvation. They are simply conditions God has required for receiving his free gift.
You see, the way of grace works the exact opposite the way of the law works. In the law path the idea is this:
THE WAY OF THE LAW:
Keep the commandments, escape the punishment.
Break the commandments, suffer the punishment.
Unfortunately only one person has ever made it to that top category. His name is Jesus. He’s the only one that has ever gotten to heaven by the way of the law. But you see the way of grace is the exact opposite. It’s flipped completely upside down. Or is it right-side up?
THE WAY OF GRACE:
Break the commandments, escape the punishment.
Keep the commandments, suffer the punishment.
In the way of grace, that first category refers to every one of us. None of us could get to heaven by the law path. We have all already messed that up beyond repair. We’re in a hole we can’t get out of. But with God’s grace, lawbreakers receive the eternal reward they do not deserve. “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, ESV)
But what about that second category? Keep the commandment, suffer the punishment? That doesn't sound right. It sounds unfair and unjust. You’re right. It is. And again, only one is in that category. His name is Jesus.
So there are two paths. Make your choice.