It is absolutely vital to know how to get to heaven and I can say emphatically that it is NOT by anything WE DO, but rather by believing in what CHRIST DID for us. On the cross “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1st Peter 3:18…NKJV). In this verse we see that Christ became a SUBSTITUTE FOR SINNERS; that is, He took our place on the cross to pay our debt of sin. In Romans 6:23 we read, “For the wages of sin is DEATH” and in Hebrews 9:27 it says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the JUDGMENT.” Death and judgment are what we deserve because of sin! Yet in love for us Jesus Christ took our place (“the just for the unjust”) by going through God’s judgment and death for us. Why did He do this? We saw it was “that He might bring us to God.” If we accept what He did for us on the cross “He will bring us to heaven!”

We have just seen that we do not go to heaven by any works of our own and this is illustrated perfectly in the conversion of the penitent thief who turned to Jesus Christ on “his deathbed” and accepted Him as his Savior. Let’s read Luke 23:39-43, “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him (Jesus), saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” One criminal refused to believe in Jesus as the Christ (the “Savior”) but the other criminal did what we all must do to get to heaven; he repented of his sinful condition and turned to the Savior of sinners for salvation. His faith was rewarded by that precious promise, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Again, he didn’t go to heaven by anything he did (for he was an ungodly sinner who deserved DEATH and JUDGMENT), but because of his faith in the One who was taking his place in death and judgment he entered into heaven with the Lord Jesus that day.

Before we close this short meditation, let’s also read Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but HE WHO DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Notice, Jesus speaks in this passage of those “who do the will of My Father in heaven” being the only ones fit for entering the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps this is the verse you were thinking of in your question. On the surface this may sound like we do go to heaven based on WHAT WE DO, but this would contradict what we saw earlier. The fact is those whom the Lord is addressing were doing that very thing; they were counting on WHAT THEY DID to get them to heaven. Yet the Lord says to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” They were NOT “doing the Father’s will”; they were “doing their own will!”

You may be thinking, “But Jesus still said we must do the will of His Father to enter into the kingdom of heaven, so what does that mean?” That answer is given back in verses 13-14 where Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” What is the “narrow gate?” The answer to that is found in John 10:9 and 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am THE DOOR, by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved….I am THE WAY, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The “will of the Father” is to BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST to be saved, and not by trusting in our so-called good works to get us to heaven. “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all he has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39-40).  (397.1)  (DO)