You cannot get to heaven by willing yourself there, working yourself there, or being a good person. A co-worker said, "I'm going to heaven because I'm a good person; I help people, I go to church, and I try to do the right thing." Unfortunately, he's going to hell and doesn't realize it, and he interrupts me when I try to share the true gospel with him. I'll keep trying, but I can't proselytize at work. I must wait for him to ask me direct questions because I do have the right to provide direct answers to his questions. This reality is true in every vocation in the United States. For instance, if a child at school asks a teacher who Jesus is, she can thoroughly answer that child. She cannot bring the subject up herself because it could be construed as proselytizing. In the following paragraphs, I'll explain how people attempt to get to heaven and the real way to heaven.
I Am Going to Heaven Because I ___.
I statements do not correlate well with salvation. For instance, I am a good person. The Bible says, "There is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6. We are not good. Scripture says we are sinful from our conception. Psalm 51:5. So, we, in and of ourselves, can never be good enough to enter heaven. Even the best person on earth, who's perpetually kind, generous, honest, trustworthy, and good, will burn in hell if they remain in their current state. There will be millions of good people that will be and are currently burning in hell. You cannot get to heaven by being good.
Works, Church, and Sacraments
But I go to church, I've been Baptized, I teach Sunday School, I've helped set up the fellowship hall for a discipleship program, and even taught one of the classes; I'm a Deacon or Elder, so I'm surely going to heaven. No, you're not. All of these wonderful things should come as a result of your salvation. None of these things will get you to heaven.
Speaking in tongues will not get you to heaven. Tithing will not get you to heaven. Fully funding an orphanage in Myanmar will not get you to heaven. Ephesians 2:9-10 says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." So, again, our good works are nothing without first being saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
We receive salvation by God's grace (unmerited favor) through our faith in the virgin birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Grace alone, by our faith, in Christ alone. We are to believe in the Biblical Jesus Christ as clearly described in scripture. We are to accept the free gift of salvation by accepting Christ as our savior. There are no requirements from us except belief and acceptance. Jesus Christ is the only path to heaven. Acts 4:12, John 3:16, John 3:36, John 14:6, Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9, and many other verses clearly state that only Jesus Christ can get you to heaven. After being saved and born-again as new creatures, filled with the Holy Spirit, we feel compelled to learn more about our Lord and God. We are compelled to do good works by the Holy Spirit. We focus our results on honoring and glorifying our Lord, not our accomplishments, generosity, and kindness. It wasn't my accomplishment, charity, or kindness, but Christ using me to accomplish His will and He gets the praise, honor, and glory. A genuine Christian suppresses their own will and accepts God's will by knowing and obeying the Bible.
I Am Going to Heaven Because I ___. The Unfortunate Reality. No, You Are Not
Many professing Christians choose their own will over God's will most of the time. They rely on their own righteousness and deeds. This reality being true, are they indeed Christians? I think not. I say this knowing that I don't know their hearts, and I don't know their relationship with God. I can see or hear what they do and say in public. I've listened to horrible, filthy thoughts and language defecating from the mouths of professing Christians. No one is perfect, but if this filth is the norm rather than the exception, something is wrong. If they can act like this, what is their relationship with God? I'm probably right about them not being Christians if their relationship is about feelings instead of obedience to God's Holy Word. I can only see their faith and obedience with my eyes. God sees their heart, soul, and mind, so He alone judges their salvation. Just remember, it's not about feelings; it's about believing by faith and obedience.