It is often helpful in learning about a topic to not only find out what it is, but what it is not. So let’s ask the question this way:
“How do we NOT get out of this predicament?”
First of all, we cannot pay off God or earn our way out of it.
One of the biggest misconceptions about getting to heaven is that we must DO something. But it couldn’t be further from the truth.
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. (Ephesians. 2:8-9)
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven… Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)
Notice: what was the main thing that these people were trusting in to get them to heaven?
What was the main thing that did NOT get them to heaven?
W O R K S !
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:21)
That means that no amount of good deeds, giving to charity, helping the poor, or being a “good person” will get you to heaven. These things are good to do, but will not earn a person a place in eternity.
Furthermore it is not by baptism. Water can wash dirt away but how can it wash sin away? Sin is a condition of the soul.
Being a member of a particular denomination, or part of “the one true church” cannot take a person to heaven. This also includes taking communion, doing sacraments, confessing sins, or repeating certain prayers, or giving money.
Not by work of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us… (Titus 3:5a)
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight… (Romans 3:20)
It is not the good things that we do that get us to heaven, but the sins we commit that keep us out. To be more specific, it is because of our sin nature (that dead spiritual condition).
In John 1:13, God lists all inclusively, the things that cannot get one to heaven.
1) not of blood – cannot inherit salvation from your parents.
2) nor of the will of the flesh. Nothing you can do (your works, baptism, church membership, or even your willpower. You may want with all your heart to go to heaven, but YOUR desire does not get you there). Basically, there is nothing you can do to impress God in order for Him to take you to heaven.
3) nor of the will of man. This speaks of the will or power of another attempting to get you to heaven. I may desire that you go, but there is nothing I can do to get you to heaven. I cannot baptize you into heaven or pray you into heaven (God will hear my prayer for you, but it must be your choice). A physical man can do nothing to get you to heaven (other than tell you how).
Only God (with your permission) can bring about this spiritual birth.
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (God is the only one who is able to produce this new birth). (John 1:13)
So we see that mankind’s ability to rescue himself out of this predicament is hopeless. For man to go to heaven, it would be necessary for someone else to rescue him. Only God Himself could do that.
So God came looking for man…