I hear a lot of non-Christians say something along the lines of, “Why do I have to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven? You mean the only thing that sends someone to hell is not believing in Jesus? And then most typical Christians answer, “Well, yes!” And, I hate that! While technically true, kind of, at it’s heart it doesn’t communicate the whole truth in a sound way.
You see, when Christians say one “one must believe in Jesus,” what they really mean is “You have to admit and acknowledge who Jesus is and what He did.” Here’s what I mean. Now, it’s going to take a bit to get back here. But hang in there and try to enjoy the ride.
Think about the brokenness of the world: war, human trafficking, child pornography, rape, murder, the list goes on and on. It’s not hard to see, and to feel, that something is terribly wrong with the world. We instinctively know that something is broken, that this is not the way things were meant to be. And we’re right. Jesus said the problem is “sin” (evil deeds); that sin that has literally broken the universe. It’s human sin that causes war, slavery, gender violence, and all the rest. And again, there’s something inside us that agrees vehemently with this idea. But here is the rub. We also sin. And our sin is part of the problem.
Sin is like a cancer, or a virus. It has affected the whole world and since we are part of the world it has affected us too. We hate, we lie, we cheat, we steal. We add to the sickness of the universe and contribute to the infection of sin. And we know it. Yeah, we always rationalize it by saying, “At least I’m not as bad as the other guy!” And that’s probably true. (Or is it? Hmm…) But that’s not the point, no matter how “good” we try to be, we blow it over and over again. And so we add to the sin all around us.
So here we are in a completely messed up world that is totally whacked. And instead of being part of the solution, our sin is part of the problem. I mean think about it. Think of every sin ever committed from the beginning of time until now. All the billions and billions of people, and all the trillions and trillions of sins. How do you fix that? How can trillions of sins be washed away. I mean it would be unjust to let murders and rapist go free right? There has to be an account given for all this. So, if you were God what would you do? What would be your plan? How would you solve the problem? What would solve the problem?
What would take care of every sin ever committed by billions and billions of people, from the beginning of time until now? Well, maybe, just maybe God’s very blood! The blood of God would be the only affectual stuff to “wash away our sins.” I can’t think of anything else that would work.
Let’s see if an allegory would help. In 1927 if you got a staff infection you were good as dead. Your doctor would tell you to put your affairs in order and prepare your family for the worst. In 1928, however, your chances of survival were pretty good. Why? Because penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928.
And so it is with the world’s sin and our own. There is a disease called sin, and the only cure is the very blood of God the Son, Jesus Christ. That’s why he had to come down from Heaven. That’s why He had to die on the cross. His blood was the payment for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the world.
So, when a non-Christian asks me why they have to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven, I say, “Because His blood is the only affectual cure for the cancer called sin.” (And yes, I use the word “affectual” because it’s fun to say. Try it. See how it rolls off the tongue.) I think it’s better to say a person must acknowledge or admit to what Jesus did and who He is. They must (spiritually) connect with Him – rather than “believe.” Only because in our culture that phrase conjures up too many allusions to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Biblical belief is much more than that. It’s a life-changing belief. It’s really a matter of sincerely and honestly acknowledging the truth. The truth about Jesus, and the truth about Him saving the world.