How to Go to Heaven — Sincere, but Wrong
Two ladies walked up the driveway. They handed me a small, tri-folded brochure that contained the service times of their church group. It advertised the religious group as being “independent of any denomination, Bible-based in every part of ministry, soul-winning and missions minded, and distinctively Christian.” The tract claimed that the religious body is “an old fashioned, independent, Baptist Church that believes, preaches, and practices the Bible.”
Their claims to being Bible-based, however, are negated in that section of the tract titled, “How to have a home in Heaven.” Four points are designed that, supposedly, guide one to salvation. Unfortunately, the teaching is hardly “independent of any denomination ... and distinctively Christian.”
Some may object to this review, saying that it is neither friendly nor loving. But Paul asked on one occasion, “So then am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16).
The loving thing to do is to tell the truth. We must not judge people superficially or hypocritically (Mt. 7:1), but we are required by God to evaluate what we hear, “handling aright the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The truth will set us free; error will cause us to be lost (Jn. 8:32; 2 Tim. 2:18).
So what does the tract say about “How to have a home in Heaven”? Here are the points and scriptures that are discussed — just as they appear in the tract.
- All have sinned. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
- The penalty for sin is death and hell. “For the wages of sin is death....” “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:14).
- Jesus died to pay for our sins. “But God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
- Trust Jesus as your Savior and your only hope for Heaven. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
After making these four points, the following conclusion was given:
“Pray a simple prayer to God, from your heart, such as the following: ‘Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. If I were to die today, I would deserve to go to hell to pay for my sins. I believe that you came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died on a cross to pay for my sins. I believe that you arose from the grave, and I ask you to forgive my sins. I am trusting only You to take me to heaven. Thank you for saving me, Jesus. Amen.’”
A Kindly Response
Like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, let us examine the Scriptures to see whether these things are so.
- While allegedly pointing people to heaven, there is nothing said about repentance. But Jesus said, “Except you repent you shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). And Paul declared that God commands men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30). If God commands it, can we ignore it, and still be faithful teachers of his Word?
- There is no mention of baptism in this section. But Paul was urged to arise, be baptized, and wash away his sins, “calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Peter preached, “Repent ye, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, unto [to obtain] the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). The apostles taught that baptism is essential for salvation because Jesus had said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Can we teach less than what Jesus taught?
- There is not a single example in the New Testament where the non-Christian was instructed to pray for salvation. There are many examples, however, when believers were baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Error is often mixed with truth. The devil himself quoted the Scriptures (cf. Mt. 4:6). There are a number of truths within this tract. Every verse is true, because they are quotations from the Bible. But one must consider all that the Bible says about salvation if he is going to obtain a home in heaven.
“The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever” (Psalms 119:160).