How does someone get to heaven?
There are seemingly endless opinions about how to answer this question. Most connect it to something we need to do. On the scale of difficulty, it ranges quite a bit. On the one side, it seems relatively easy: all you must do to go to heaven is die. And on the other, it appears hopelessly out of reach: you must be good enough that God will accept you.
What do you think? How would you answer this important question?
Only the Blameless Are Welcomed
King David asked and answered this question when he wrote the 15th Psalm. In the introductory verse, he asks, “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” (Ps. 15:1) This is about who gets the privilege of being in God’s presence. Who is welcomed to come and stay in the happiest place imaginable?
What’s the answer? David writes, “He who walks blamelessly and does what is right…” (Ps. 15:2). Reading these words could take the air out of the room. Is David saying that only the blameless are welcomed to stay?
Yes, that’s what he’s saying. He goes on to explain in the subsequent verses what this looks like in their character (2), relationships (3), values (4a), integrity (4b), and money (5). The one who is welcomed into God’s presence is the one who loves God and their neighbor. They are the one who keeps God’s law.
What if I’m not Blameless?
How do we measure up? If we’re honest, we don’t. Who among us could wear Psalm 15:2 as our life verse, “I walk blamelessly, do what is right and speak truth in my heart”? If we are tempted to raise our hand and say, “me!” We’re undone by the third clause concerning speaking truth in our hearts.
So what do we do about this?
If you’re a professing Christian, you might read this and be discouraged and confused. How can I go to heaven if I’m not blameless? At the same time, you read through this list, and you see the virtues that you desire. And what’s more, you’ve noticed them growing in your life. You find yourself living more in line with God’s Word, protecting the reputation of others, speaking to give grace to those who hear, keeping your word (even when it’s costly), and valuing people more than money.
Should this noticeable but imperfect reflection of God’s Word discourage you? On the contrary, the emerging buds of godly character should encourage you. The presence of fruit in your life is indicative of the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is actively working in your life to conform you to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). The evidence of this is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23).
This could also be confusing. How does God accept imperfect reflection of his Word? Did God somehow lower the standard? Is he grading this exam on a curve? Not at all. The basis for how God could accept you and me–imperfect people–is because Jesus Christ lived perfectly in our place. He kept God’s law and was treated like a lawbreaker on the cross so that God could treat people like us (lawbreakers) as law-fulfillers (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus lived obediently to God’s law and died sacrificially to pay its demands. He did this for us. This is how imperfect people can be regarded as blameless. And it’s why all who put their trust in Christ will never be moved (v.5).
Christ Took the Mountain
It is true; only the blameless are welcomed to stay in God’s presence. Only those who do what’s right are permitted to dwell on his holy hill. And this happens because our Lord Jesus Christ took the mountain for us. He marched up the hill of difficulty to win our passport to heaven. He defanged Satan and defeated death. He earned our everlasting righteousness and paid our everlasting debt. Our sin is removed and our passage to glory secured. Jesus Christ “swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Ps. 15:5). He keeps his word, even when it’s costly and difficult.
This realization prods us to humility (because God loved us when we were unlovely), gratitude (because Christ died for lawbreakers like us), and holiness (because we see the Holy Spirit working in us).