Many people think they will go to heaven because they have lived a good life. Perhaps, they treat all of their neighbors fairly. Maybe they volunteer for charity work and have never broken the law. Maybe they were even baptized or go to church regularly. But the Bible, God's Word, says that no one can live up to God's standard of righteousness.
Romans 3:10 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one ...."
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God ...."
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Salvation cannot be earned. Everyone is a sinner and deserves death, but God gives eternal life. So how can we receive God's gift of eternal life?
Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ...."
To be saved, we must believe the gospel. The word "gospel" means "good news". But before we can believe the good news, we have to know what it is.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel ... that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures ...."
This is the gospel which we must believe in order to be saved. Now, how does believing this gospel save us?
Romans 5:8-9 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."
Romans 3:22-26 "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (appeasing sacrifice) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
We can be saved from the wrath of God, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins and rose from the dead. He paid the price for us, and we are justified in God's eyes through our faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast."
There will be no boasting in heaven. We cannot be saved by our own righteousness, but only by God's grace, through faith.
Ephesians 1:13-14 "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
Once we believe the gospel, we are sealed with God's Holy Spirit. This is God's deposit, that guarantees he will redeem us, whom our Lord Jesus Christ "purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
Studying the Bible is an essential part of the growth of every believer. New believers should begin by reading the letters of our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13), starting with Romans and then continuing through all of Paul's letters.