MapQuest® is an ingenious website that many have probably used at one time or another. Simply type in where you live and where you want to go and, voila! It gives you step-by-step directions to your final destination. Of course, it cannot give you directions on How to Get to Heaven from Your Current Location. Only the Word of God can give us these instructions.
The year leading up to the conversion of George Whitefield, the famous English Evangelist, is a good example of how God will have nothing to do with good works or acts of self-denial for the salvation of a lost soul. Both are repulsive in His sight. Shortly after entering his third year at Oxford, young Whitefield underwent a spiritual crisis. It was said of him:
“The life of God in his own soul was what he craved and must have—but how to obtain it! The thought of his sins caused him to sweat and groan. He shunned all company, wandering the fields and woods, deep in prayer—sometimes lying all night upon the freezing ground. He wore the shabbiest of clothing; his only fare [meals], dry bread and tea. In time even his prayers seemed to become sinful.” (George Whitefield and the Great Evangelical Awakening by Anthony Beaurepaire, The Protestant Truth Society, London, England, Pg. 13).
It wasn’t until Mr. Whitefield came to the end of himself that he began to reflect on his reading of Christian literature, how it was “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” With the burden of his sin greater than he could bear, he turned to Christ, the great Sin-Bearer, and was gloriously saved by the grace of God. In his own words, he gave this touching account of his conversion:
“God was pleased at length to remove the heavy load, to enable me to lay hold on His dear Son by living faith…Oh, with what joy, joy unspeakable, even joy that was full of, and great with glory, and my soul was filled when the weight of sin went off, and an abiding sense of the pardoning love of God and a full assurance of faith broke upon my disconsolate soul!”
Perhaps you are like Mr. Whitefield prior to his conversion, trying to find acceptance with God apart from Christ. Your defense may be, “I’m not so bad. After all, I’ve never murdered anyone,” as if God will accept you because you never committed the act of murder. But which sin is worse, murder or lying? According to Proverbs 6:16,17, lying is the greater violation of the two in the sight of God—because lying leads to murder! We need to remember and remember well, all sin has eternal consequences for those who reject Christ as their Savior.
Perhaps your pursuit of God has taken you down the path of religious rituals. Surely here you will find favor with God! Interestingly, it is in this area that Satan has done his most effective work to blind men to the light of the glorious gospel. He uses religion! If men think their religious service will gain them acceptance with God, he has accomplished his purpose to keep them eternally damned.
Here is a short list of religious practices that men do, hoping to earn their way to heaven: church attendance, water baptism, first communion, confirmation, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, responsive readings, doing the sign of the Cross, confessing and receiving forgiveness of their sins from a priest, etc. Before his conversion to Christ, Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran Church, visited Rome, where he climbed the steps of Scala Santa on his knees. The Scala Santa is believed to be the stairway the Lord ascended to reach Pilate’s Judgment Hall on the day of His crucifixion. The Catholic Church supposedly had it brought from Jerusalem to Rome.
As a Roman Catholic, at the time, Luther believed such acts of self-sacrifice would increase his chances of entering heaven. But it wasn’t long thereafter, in a monastery at Wittenberg, he saw things in a whole new light. As Luther was reading Romans 1:17, where it states, “The just shall live by faith,” he paused a moment, and then it suddenly dawned on him that salvation was by faith. Up to that point he had tried to earn his salvation through religious observances, but never felt he had done enough. Now, for the first time, he saw that a lost soul is declared eternally righteous by God through faith on the basis of the finished work of Christ. He was delivered from the bondage of his sins and indescribable joy flooded his heart. So dramatic was the change in his life that Luther went on to be the spark that ignited the great Reformation.
If you would like to get to heaven from your current location, simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We want you to know that God loves you and Christ died for your sins (Rom. 5:8). You see, the day Christ died at Calvary, He wasn’t dying for His sins. He knew no sin. Instead, He was dying for the sins of the world—my sins and your sins. God has made a provision for all, but to receive the benefit of this provision you must believe that Christ died personally for you and rose again (I Cor. 15:3,4; I Thes. 4:14). Salvation is in a person, and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ! He alone can save you from your sins! source