If you've wondered why you need Jesus, the answer is both simple and complicated.
Heaven is God's party, so he gets to make the rules on who gets in. It's as simple as that. If you were throwing a party, would you let anyone into your home who walked in off the street? Of course not! It wouldn't be safe, it wouldn't be smart, and you couldn't expect a complete stranger to abide by your rules.
That's the simple explanation. The gospel--the story of Jesus Christ--is simple enough that a child can understand it, yet at the same time so profound that Bible scholars study it their entire lives and do not plumb its depths.
If you are curious and want to know what Christianity is about, let's look into four reasons why you need Jesus.
I am a sinner. So are you. So is the nicest, sweetest person you know. We can't help it, because we were born sinners. Since the first couple, Adam and Eve, sinned by disobeying God's specific command, that sinful nature has been inherited by everyone since.
Now that might not seem fair, but that's how it is. Sin is disobeying God, plain and simple. God set up a straightforward set of rules for us to follow called the Ten Commandments. Break one of those rules and you commit a sin, disobedience to God.
Here's the depressing part: None of us, nobody, can keep the Ten Commandments. Our sinful nature makes it impossible. Oh, we may be able to behave ourselves for a while, but sooner or later, we always stumble and disobey. Always. All of us.
That's a hopeless dilemma. Or is it?
God's standard to get into heaven is perfection. Absolute perfection. He accepts nothing less. If you thought you could get to heaven by being a good person, think again.
You can never be good enough.
Most people think they can get into heaven by doing good deeds. Essentially that's what being a good person is.
But God says, through the Bible, his written Word, that you can't get to heaven by doing good works. Nope. You can't work your way in.
Boy. This is sounding worse and worse, isn't it? You have a natural tendency to sin, you have a set of laws you can't keep no matter how hard you try, and you have a requirement of absolute perfection to get into heaven. That's why you need Jesus.
There it is in a nutshell. Jesus Christ, and only Jesus Christ, is how you get into heaven. If you think I'm being restrictive or bigoted, that's not what I say. It's what God says, in his book, the Bible:
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
Here's how it works. God the Father (the Father of Jesus), provided his only Son as a Savior for you and me, the way for us to get into heaven.
Jesus, who is God, became man so he could be a perfect sacrifice to pay for your sins and mine. God the Father's perfect justice had to be satisfied by a blood sacrifice, and only Jesus could do that.
When Jesus died on the cross outside Jerusalem, Israel, nearly 2,000 years ago, he paid the sin debt all the people, past, present and future, would owe God. Your debt and mine were paid. Right then. Period.
To show that he accepted Jesus' sacrifice on behalf of humanity, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, in a bodily resurrection that changed history. The Christian church was founded to lead people to Jesus Christ.
This gift of salvation is free. It doesn't require any works on your part or anything additional. You can't pay for it.
But you have to receive Jesus as your Savior. You have to believe he died for your sins. Only by having faith in him can you get to heaven.
See? That's why you need Jesus. It's simple, but it's complicated. Some of it is a downright mystery, too deep for the human mind to ever understand. But that's all right. You don't have to figure it all out. All you have to do is receive the gift of heaven and eternal life by believing in Jesus.
Have you noticed that your life seems incomplete? Jesus gives it meaning. He has given my life meaning, and any Christian will tell you the same thing.
But let me warn you. Once you receive God's gift of eternal life in heaven, your problems don't automatically stop. You don't live a trouble-free life just because you're a Christian, and anyone who tells you everything will be wonderful is lying--even if they're a preacher.
Christians often get picked on, even persecuted. Nonbelievers think we're "goody two-shoes" who have our noses in the air and think we're better than everybody else. If you're an authentic Christian, you understand you've been saved by the kindness of God alone, and that's a humbling truth.
God wants you with him in heaven forever, but his second goal for you is to make you just like his Son Jesus. He wants you to be kind, forgiving, generous, wise, patient, and obedient.
With a sinful nature, we can't do that on our own, but we don't have to. After he returned to heaven again, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to live within his followers, to guide us, protect us, and help us become like him. The more we depend on the Spirit, the more like Jesus we become.
If you want to become a follower of Jesus and accept his gift of eternal life in heaven, you'll find further instructions through a good, Bible-teaching church. Here's a good article on how to choose a church.
Every church has a different "personality." Attend for a while and find one you feel comfortable in. Be sure the pastor preaches sermons that are based on the Bible. Don't have a Bible yet? I recommend the Life Application Study Bible, simply because its footnotes are so practical. It helps you apply God's Word to your everyday life, and that's priceless. You can buy one online or in a bookstore.
This article is just a short introduction to why you need Jesus. A church pastor will be able to explain it completely and answer all your questions.
Finally, know this. Eternal, everlasting life doesn't start when you die. It starts when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and believe in him as Lord of your life.
Human death is only a doorway. For believers in Christ, that door leads right into heaven.