If you are asking this question, you may have an inkling that there are only two options after you have taken your last breath on this earth: heaven or hell. This is your eternal destiny, and you get to make that choice. God loves us so much that He has provided a way to bring us into His presence after death (John 3:16). In Acts 16:30, the apostle Paul and his friend Silas are in jail, and the guard is curious about what they've been talking about. He asks them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The answer is the same for us today: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).
Since the Garden of Eden, we have been infected with the viral disease of sin (Romans 3:23). Sin is the evil desire to go against God. We inherited this sin from the very first people ever created, Adam and Eve. We're born with it (Psalm 51:5). Because it's woven into the fabric of who we are, we willingly choose to live in sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). The scariest part is that we can't help ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9).
This sin inside of us is what condemns us to eternity in hell. Sin puts up a wall between us and God and leads us in its death grip toward pain, punishment, and destruction forever.
God hates sin. He cannot allow it into His heavenly Kingdom. Because we're filled with sin and compelled to indulge in it, we all deserve to die (Romans 6:23). If that sounds terribly bleak, well, that's because it is. Physical death comes to all, but after that is something far worse if don't change our path now . Every sin is a sin against God (Psalm 51:4). He made us in His image (Genesis 1:26), but it was ruined by sin. Because of our sinful state of being, for justice to be done, all who sin are condemned to eternal destruction (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15).
Only a sinless person can actually pay the price for the sin of another person. Because we can't get rid of sin ourselves, we can never make ourselves sinless. There are no Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards we can earn. There is nothing we can actually DO. But! That's not the end of it. Our death sentence doesn't have to be forever.
God has no sin in Him and exists in the eternal realm. Only He could pay the penalty for us, but because He is eternal, He can never die. Death is required to pay this debt we owe to Him. So what can He do for us? He loves us so dearly that He sent His divine Son to earth to become a human being. His plan was for this baby to grow into a man who would lead a sinless life all the way and teach people to love God and love each other. His Son did amazing, miraculous things to prove to the people He was from God. He made lots of friends—and lots of enemies.
Many people believed in Him and followed Him. But many others hated and rejected Him and everything He was telling the people. The haters set out to murder Him in any way they could. The Son knew this. He knew this was why He had come. His ultimate purpose in becoming human was to die for these people of the earth—whether or not they loved Him right now (Romans 5:8).
One night, when He was with a whole group of His friends, soldiers came for Him. He allowed Himself to be arrested, beaten, abused—like a vile criminal. The next day, He allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross of wood and hung up for all to see. Some mocked Him and planned to steal His clothes. Others cried in grief. They knew He would die, but they had no idea why.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, did all of this willingly as a sacrifice for everyone who has sin inside of them—that includes you and me (John 10:15). As He hung there, writhing in pain from the spikes of metal driven into His hands and feet, the names of every person who would ever exist and sin went through His mind, and He knew He was suffering for them—for us. Yes, YOUR name went through His mind, too.
Because Jesus became a human being, He could die; and because Jesus is also God, the value of His death was infinitely higher than anything a mere mortal could possess. Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross, which ended His sinless life, was the only perfect and complete payment for our sin (1 John 2:2). We are the ones who did wrong, but He is the one who took on the punishment we deserved.
Three days after the Son died, He came back to life, showing that His death was enough. The price was paid, and hell would not have to be the only destination anymore. Humankind now had a choice.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). God has already done everything that needs to be done in order to grant us access to His Kingdom. He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment we deserve. All you must do is wholeheartedly know and believe that Jesus is the salvation God offers (Ephesians 2:8-9). Trust that He is the only one who can pay for your sins. Believe in Him, and your physical death will become a gateway to the beginning of your eternal life with God (John 3:16). The Creator of the universe has given you this gift, completely free of charge. All you have to do is take it in your hands with a grateful heart. Believing in Jesus is the only way to be saved (John 14:6).
If you have a made a decision to accept this gift of salvation—AWESOME. Tell God that you have made this choice and thank Him for sending His Son to die for you so that you can be with Him in His eternal Kingdom. The angels will dance and sing about your coming! Then tell a Christian friend or neighbor or pastor. Making this decision should not be a secret!
We are all sinful creatures (Romans 3:23). Our sin is a crime against God, and a penalty must be paid to get rid of sin. Only sinless people may enter Heaven, and we can't get rid of sin ourselves. Because God is eternal and has no sin in Him, only He could pay the penalty for us. A sinless death is required to pay this debt we owe God. Since we can't pay, God provided the life of His Son Jesus Christ to cover our debt (John 3:16; John 14:6). Jesus became human, led a sinless life, then sacrificed His life on YOUR behalf. If you truly believe that, then salvation is yours (Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Cat is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, four socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.