What must a person do to go to heaven? The answer is quite obvious in the Bible. God has put a semi-truck load of verses there with the answer.
Yet when I talk to pastors or go to church, they do not mention God's semi-truck. Instead they exploit one or two verses to conjure up their own little toy truck and insist it is the way to heaven.
Some of the more popular toy trucks are: ask Jesus to come into your heart; keep the sacraments; accept Jesus as your personal Savior; and make Jesus Lord of your life. There are many more.
What does God's semi-truck say?
First, the Bible clearly states four times that those who believe are saved and those who do not believe are not saved (Mk 16:16; Jn 3:18, 36; 1 Jn 5:10). I don't know how much clearer it can be than that.
In Acts 16:30-31 the Philippian jailor asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Is that not also clear?
Jesus stated this same thing many times. All of the prophets, John the Baptist, the apostles, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, James, and John also said it. In fact, at least 81 times in the New Testament alone believing and/or faith is linked with salvation (Mk 1:15; 16:16; Lk 7:50; 8:12; 18:42; Jn 1:7, 12; 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:29, 35, 40, 47; 7:38, 39; 8:24, 30; 11:25, 26; 12:36, 46; 20:31; Acts 8:12, 13, 37; 9:42; 10:43; 13:39, 48; 15:9; 16:31; 26:18; Rom 1:16; 3:22, 25, 26, 28, 30; 4:5, 24; 5:1; 9:30; 10:4, 9, 10, 14; 1 Cor 1:21; 3:5; 15:11, 17; Gal 2:16; 3:6, 7, 8, 11, 22, 24, 26; 5:5, 6; Eph 2:8; Phl 1:27; 3:9; 1 Th 4:14; 2 Th 2:13; 1 Tim 1:16; 2 Tim 3:15; Heb 4:2; 6:12; 10:39; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:5, 9; 1 Jn 5:1, 4, 5, 10, 13).
In addition to this, 50 times Christians are called those who believe or those who are in the faith (Mt 18:6; Mk 9:42; 16:17; Jn 4:39, 41, 42; 8:31; 10:26; 16:27; 17:20; 20:29; Acts 2:44; 4:4, 32; 5:14; 11:17, 21; 13:12; 14:1, 23; 15:5, 7; 17:12, 34; 18:8, 27; 19:2, 4, 18; 21:20, 25; 22:19; 24:24; 1 Cor 14:22; Gal 6:10; Eph 1:19; 4:5; Phl 1:29; 1 Th 1:7; 2:10, 13; 2 Th 1:10; 1 Tim 4:1; Tit 1:1, 4, 13; 3:8, 15; Heb 4:3; 1 Peter 2:6).
When you total it all up, over 131 verses in the New Testament tell that a person is saved by believing or by faith. That is a very strong statement.
Does your toy truck have that kind of support? Not even close.
Hiding a Semi-truck
But with such strong and clear proof of what salvation is, why are so few mentioning it? I find this unbelievable and unconscionable. How can anyone, let alone a pastor or a church, ignore God's semi-truck and replace it with a toy truck?
One problem is the word, "believe". Many people refuse to accept (and rightly so) that everyone who believes that Jesus was a real person will go to heaven. Wicked people believe in Jesus. Even people who hate God believe that Jesus existed. They are not saved. Yet that is what God's semi-truck seems to say.
Many Christians react to this by looking the other way when the b-word is used. It's as if the b-word does not exist. When they read the b-word in the Bible, they rush by it. When they talk about salvation they ignore the b-word and insert their toy truck.
But instead of ignoring it, why not try to figure out what the Bible means by "believe" and "faith" and follow God's way?
Believe and Faith
The b-word first showed up in the English Bible in 1395 when John Wycliffe translated the Bible from Latin to English. In Latin the word used for the b-word is translated "trust" or "rely on". Back in those days "trust" was a new word and "believe" meant trust. So John Wycliffe used the word, "believe". Most English Bible versions since then have followed suit. But English has changed since then. "Believe" is seldom used that way today.
The Bible was first written in Greek and Hebrew. The Greek words used for "believe" and "faith" are from the same Greek root. "Believe" is the verb form and "faith" is the noun form. They are better translated "trust".
When you read the Bible and come across the b-word (believe), it will make more sense if you replace it with the word, "trust". The Bible teaches that a person is saved by trusting Jesus. God wants us to trust Him and His Son.
God's semi-truck looks like this. For thousands of years God promised His people that He would send a Messiah to rescue and restore them. Not only did He come, He also died for our sins, came back to life, and is present today to help us. Those who trust this invisible Rescuer, the very son of God, will be saved. Those who don't won't.
What must a person do to go to heaven? Trust in Jesus.
The Bible says this over and over again. Why would you say anything else? Don't let the little toy trucks hide God's semi.