Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Thursday, October 19

What is the Minimum It Takes to Get into Heaven?

Life is a journey. Life is a hike from our City of Destruction to the Celestial City. But no matter how the journey unfolds along the path, it has a beginning point. In Jesus’ imagery, the journey begins at the gate. In my imagery, the hike begins at the trailhead.

Everyone’s trailhead is a little different. For some, we started the journey on our mother’s knee at a young age. For others it starts after a difficult time in the teenage years, and perhaps in the midst of those difficult times you met a friend who started to walk with you. For others the trailhead is much later, after you have sampled life and found it lacking. Our trailheads can often look quite different.

However all of our trailheads have many things in common, and today I want to talk about what we all have in common. As you start your journey as a follower of Jesus, or if you are just thinking about it, or if you are walking with a new traveler, it is important that we have the same understanding of what the trailhead looks like; otherwise it will become confusing on down the path.

One of the defining moments in my life was when I was in graduate school. I was waiting for the bus, and a young coed asked if I was one of those “Divinity” students. (That’s what it is called in Scotland.) I said yes, and she asked if I were a Christian. I said yes, and she responded, “What is a Christian?” Much to my shame, I had never thought through a quick and decisive answer. I was working on a Ph.D. but had not thought through this most important of all questions. The bus came in two minutes and she got on.

I didn’t go to the office that day. I went back to the dorm and started reading and praying, working on an answer I could give in two minutes. I spent much of the next day looking for her on campus but never found her.

So what would you say? Remember, you know nothing about the person, and you can see the bus coming. You have two minutes. You don’t want to say too much, but you don’t want to say too little You want to say enough so that if she responds, either now or later, then she truly is a follower of Christ. But you don’t want to say too much and make the decision harder for her.

What would you say? Yes, the trailhead at the beginning of our spiritual journeys are all somewhat different, and yet there must be a common thread running through them. There must be the non-negotiables.

For example, John tells us that if you deny the reality of the Incarnation, that Jesus came in the flesh, you are the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:2-3). Does our two minute answer include the dual nature of Christ?

Jesus also says that we should count the cost of following him (Luke 14:26-28).

Paul says a person must “confess with  your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in  your heart that  God raised him from the dead” (Rom 10:6), and yet Jesus says there will be many at the judgment seat who did many miracles in his name and yet were not true followers (Matt 7:22ff.).

I made a nuisance of myself for several years by asking everyone I could, especially academics, “What is the minimum it takes to get into heaven?” It was always interesting to me which of my academic acquaintances could answer the question, and who couldn’t.

Some replied, “That is the wrong question.” My answer always was, “Someone you will never see again just asked you the question, and the bus will be there in two minutes. Go!”

Some would still respond, “It can’t be answered in two minutes. It is the wrong question.”

My response? “You now have less than two minutes.”

How would you respond? The question isn’t rhetorical or academic. It is life and death.

Comments

I would use 1Cor 15: 3-4 Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and it is He you must believe in and it begins with faith that He is the Son of God just as the Apostle Peter said. Do you believe this?

you could say someone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (acts 16:31). You could say someone who has decided to follow Jesus (Lu.9.23) Id say someone who follows Jesus because they believe he alone has the words of eternal life (Jn.6.68).

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." The kingdom of heaven is a pearl of great value, because its King, its governing principle, and its destiny are pearls of great value. There are ultimately two, and only two kingdoms. The governing principle of the kingdom of this world is that the strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must. The governing principle of the kingdom of heaven is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The supreme ethic of the kingdom of heaven is selfless love. Its king is the supreme example, and model of that selfless love. The destiny of the kingdom is to spend eternity in the presence of its king. A Christian, then, is one who is sold out for that kingdom. A Christian, is an ambassador, from the kingdom of heaven to the kingdom of this world, with a ministry of reconciliation, urging people to abandon the kingdom of this world and come into the kingdom of heaven, where God intends for them to be. Is that two minutes?

Thank you for this beautiful response. I think people forget that's it's not just saying a "prayer to go to heaven" or "just believing in Him".... Even the demons believe and tremble at His Name. It goes so much deeper than belief...it's abiding in Him as He abides in us. Just like you said the Supreme ethic is Supreme love where Jesus is the Supreme example. And He says to walk, just as He walks. So thank you for a response that ever so slightly touches the depth of our King and His Kingdom. God bless you

Thanks for raising the issue. I should have answered this years ago too. Going to work on it and bring back my response.

He is a person who believes what Jesus said about himself in the Bible and submits to become his disciples as discipleship is described in the Bible (under two minutes )

Acts 16:30-31 Romans 6:23 Believe and be saved.

Interesting question...baptism must be part of that two minute discussion in my humble view, whether you believe it for remission of sins or affirmation of your commitment to Jesus and a change of heart...I also believe that the change of heart never ends, as we are always trying to be better, more like our Savior...I need to make sure I can answer what the Bible says is required to be a child of God, with the firm hope of Heaven...most of us do not, and in today’s environment, when that chance comes we need to be ready.

A Christian is a person who believes in Christ Jesus. We believe there is a God who created the heavens and the earth. He created you and me and everything on this Earth. God let His son, Jesus die on the cross, so you and I can have eternal life. God heals the sick, provide for those in need, and much more - but only if you believe and ask. Yes, I am a Christian, because I believe in the Almighty God. He gave me life, saved me fromy sins and saved me from death.

I've thought about this a lot over the years, and am pleased that you are discussing it. There are lots of "non-negotiable" items about what Christians should believe, but it seems few that are required for entrance to Heaven. We read in Hebrews 11 that "...without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." That is, in my opinion, the nut. When someone comes to God, earnestly seeking Him for the reward He will give, they have qualified for eternal life. I recognize that this might seem odd coming from a theologically conservative, Bible-first kind of person...but I believe Scripture bears this out. The thief on the cross, for example, seems to have only earnestly acknowledged Jesus. We don't know whether He was theologically accurate in his understanding, but we know he asked for whatever Jesus would give him. That is not the end for most people as it was for him, but it seems enough for anyone to make a beginning.

The short answer would be John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'' That verse there pretty much sums up eternal life. No other verse in the Bible so succinctly summarizes God's relationship with humanity and the way of salvation.

A belief and acceptance of the heart of the Gospel as stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3ff. That is 1) Christ’s death, 2) the fulfillment of prophecies, 3) Christ’s burial, 4) Christ’s resurrection, and 5) Christ supernaturally appeared to and manifested by his followers.

The question is not so much "wrong" as it is framed with the wrong vocabulary. For entrance into the eternal Kingdom, there is no "minimum," neither is there a "maximum." Rather, the minimum IS the maximum, and vice-versa. There is only one thing required: perfection. One cannot have any sin, or the slightest thought contrary to God's will. One cannot not even be "conceived in sin" (Psa. 51), which we all are. Therefore, the only person who will enter the kingdom is the one who is "perfect as he is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). This was and always has been God's demand to us—the original covenant he made with us, as it were: a covenant which was broken rather quickly. And, if Paul is correct in Rom. 3 (i.e., that all have sinned), and if David is right in Psa. 51 (i.e., that all humanity after Adam is born sinful), then no one will ever enter the Kingdom—that is, at least, on their own merit. But, by the grace of God, he has provided one who satisfied this "Covenant of Works," which we all violate by birth, by his active obedience to the Law, and by his sacrificial death he has taken all the sins of the elect upon his shoulders, suffering the curse due them, thereby absolving our guilt and shame. He was and is a substitute for us. It is by virtue of this man, Jesus Christ, and this his work that we gain entrance into that eternal kingdom. He himself was made sin and a curse for us so that we might be free from the curse, and become the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13).

A christian is a sinner who has asked Christ to save him and entrusted his life saving into Christ's hands. For philip n etheiopian eunuch it was simply believe For jesus and woman at the well it was ask and recieve For jesus n those in rev 3 its open the door Jn 1:11 — Jn 1:13 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

To be a Christian and headed towards heaven means that you first accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. From that point on your life should be spent spreading the word, serving others, and walking a path that is lit from the glory of Christ.

Faith + Nothing = Salvation (Faith in Jesus Christ is all that is needed Eph 2:8)

Answer to the question: A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus Christ is God and has faith that what He did when He died on the cross covers everything necessary to rescue your soul.

Yes, Bill, how one answers the question, "What is the minimum it takes to get into heaven?" will result in one following the sheep line or the goat line on their Day of Judgment (Matt. 25:31-46). The sheep line is eternal life in heaven, and the goat line is eternity in hell. The goat line is longer. Much longer, "Enter through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to damnation is wide, the road is clear, and many choose to travel it. But how narrow is the gate that leads to life, how rough the road, and how few there are who find it!" (Matt. 7:13-14) To help us find our way to Him, Jesus made it exceedingly clear, "Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal and I will raise Him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood real drink. The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him" (John 6:53-56). Bill, teach the truth and live!! "Scandals will inevitably arise, but woe to him through whom they come. He would be better off thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than giving scandal to one of these little ones" (Luke 17: 1-2). "A Christian is a member of His Church. His Church is the Bride of Christ. Christ is our spouse. We are His body and He is our head. A Christian is baptized into the body of Christ, and confirms the full deposit of faith as taught by His Church. Jesus founded the Church on the person and faith of St. Peter, from whom all of our Popes for over 2000 years have directly succeeded through prayer and the laying on of hands. Our Mass is when the entire Church comes together -the Church in heaven, purgatory, and on Earth- to celebrate the memorial of His death and resurrection. In this celebration we consume His body and blood. It is also called the Eucharistic celebration. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, because He is the source and summit of our faith. We worship Him and praise Him. We worship God alone. Jesus' Mother, Mary, we accept as our Mother, too. We revere our Mother Mary deeply, and thank her for giving us her Son!! That took one minute. Speak with your local Catholic priest about joining the RCIA class. There are no strings attached. It teaches the full deposit of faith so that a person can make an informed decision about which line they want to be in. There is no third human-made line. Choose life!!

To believe that God sent Jesus to bring us all back into a relationship with Him. Jesus came to take all of the that is broken with this world and with you and I. If we can see that Jesus loves us our response to that love is to obey Him and walk with Him. Let’s ask Jesus to start this walk together.

Someone who has placed their trust in the completed, atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ as complete payment for the penalty of their sins. Obviously, I could say a lot more (and I want to) but this will give them the basics and time to ask a follow-up question.

The question, "what is the minimum it takes to get into heaven?" is quite ambiguous. The question arises "minimum what?" What is the minimum one must know? What is the minimum one must believe? What is the minimum one must do? What is the minimum one must want? What is the minimum one must be? We must know that we are all sinners. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God. "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." We must do several things. All of which are necessary. None of which are sufficient. 1. "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." 2. "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,'" 3. "So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” There is only one thing we must want. We must desire right relationship with God above all else. "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” One must be committed to obedience to the point of death. "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Ok... that is pushing the two minute limit.

We all know what it takes to get into heaven. First, love God with all you have. Second, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Know that loving your neighbor is about doing for him or her as you would have done to you, and to not do to them what you would not have done to you. Everything else is just commentary. Learn the commentary as you consume news about your celebrity crush.

What does it take to get to heaven? The reason you are not in heaven right now is "sin". Sin is the rebellion of humans against God. You've been born, as we all are, in a state of revolt against the God who created you. You need to change sides. But you can't do that alone. Because to change sides, you have to change your nature. But God wants to have you back. So He sent His Son, Jesus to make a way for you to come back. That way involved Jesus' coming to earth as human man, and suffering and dying to make the way possible for sin to be overcome. He not only died, though, he rose again, and invites you back to heaven by believing in Him.

One that know the evil of their own heart and come to LOVE God enough to accept His word, Sons sacrifice, His forgiveness, and is living a life of repentance.

A Christian is one in whom the Spirit of Christ resides. Therefore being a Christian is a matter of the heart (an internal matter) and not about that which is external or outside of the person.

1 Cor. 15:1-4 The Gospel, Paul's Gospel to be on point. This is what we need to believe to become a Christian and spend eternity with God in Heaven.

The thief on the cross simply turned to Christ and said remember me when you come into your kingdom. Paul told the Philippian Jailer believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. According to 1st Corinthians 15 Paul said the gospel he had received was that Christ had died for our sins according to the scriptures that he was buried and raised on the third day according to the scriptures and that he was seen by Witnesses. It would seem that trusting in Christ's death burial and Resurrection as an atonement for sins will justify The Sinner but obviously that is not all that is meant by making a disciple. Once a person believes and is Justified it is the will of the Lord that they be discipled and sanctified to become more christ-like for the rest of their life. A personal encounter with the living Christ resulting in Salvation is a mysterious miracle achieved by God not a formula so I'm not sure the question can be exactly answered. Someone once told me the ABCs of the Gospel is to be Accurate Bold and Clear in presenting the facts of Christ atoning sacrifice and leaving the results to God. I believe they were correct.

A Christian is someone who has recognized that their imperfectness (sin), puts them outside the realm of pleasing a holy God/Creator. But because God loves us all and wants to rescue us for an eternity separated from Him, He sent His Son to pay our penalties for every sin we have or will commit. He only requires that we place our faith in Christs work in paying for our debt with His own death. By us beliving in His "cross work" God is pleased to dismiss all righteous charges against us, place His Spirit Within to guide us in growing in Godliness, and place us in a new spiritual position which cannot be altered. I like to explain the necessity of the hypostatic union (without mentioning that phrase) like this: Because Jesus was fully man, he could take my place, and because He was still fully God He could everyone's place paying for everyone's sin.

My answer is usually something like this: A Christian is someone who believes that God the Father sent His one truly unique Son, who is also God by His nature, to be born, live, and die as the man Jesus. He was murdered unjustly by men so that humans who all ought to justly die can, by trusting Him, have His death and judgment take the place of their own and by doing so can be raised from the dead one day just as He was raised from the dead. I think you can get that out in two minutes or well under it.

The words of the dying thief, 'Lord save me' and the Lord's reply 'Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise'. Faith in the sinners Substitute will take you to heaven.

I'm probably going to show my own weaknesses in answering this question, but I think you're right, we need to try to answer this question because it is important, so here it goes: A Christian is someone whose heart has been changed by God so that they are no longer cold and spiteful towards the things of God but love Him with everything that they are; because of this change, we now learn to live spiritual lives by learning the Word and practicing what God teaches us in our daily lives. I'm sure every interaction is going to start from a different place, so it is gong to look different from person to person, but I would hope to broadly address 1. God's grace-filled act of changing who we are, 2. the result of this change in how we relate to God and the world, 3. the quality of living a spirit-filled daily life. Hopefully I could conclude by telling them something like this: If anyone wants this, they need to begin hearing God's word because Jesus said His word is spirit and life (John 6:63) and authentic faith comes from hearing the word (Romans 10:17). And to continue and grow in this you need to get into the fellowship of Christ's Church body because this is where we stir one another up in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). My hope for a short conversation like this would be merely to point them in the right direction and give them an idea of what to expect for that journey.

Faith is the main ingredient to be heaven bound...Without faith you have nothing....Miracles, are nothing more then prayer, put into action, by faith.....True faith has no doubt ....Doubt is like the waves beating against the shore...Fact.. Jesus the Christ isn't a religion.. Jesus is a way of life to follow, as an example to live righteously.. There are two consciences one of the spirit and one of the carnal...I always tell individuals to read what Christ says to the seven churches in Revelations.. You are the church...pick which one is your attitude toward God, and repent...

Good question, Bill, and I'm not going to offer my answer here. But, it awakens the thought that we need to have it clear in our thinking of where we stand in our discipleship of Jesus. In my teaching and preaching, I often broach the topic of the Gospel, and the Great Commission, as many of others would. Like you, I throw in a question, such as "What is the Good News?" at every opportunity, and it rarely ceases to amaze me the variety of answers I receive. As Christians, and disciples of the Master, we are commissioned to go and tell the Gospel, but if we don't have a clear, succinct idea of what it is that we are to tell, we have a similar dilemma that faced you at the bus-stop.

For me, the minimum to go to heaven will be to follow Jesus with my cross which are all my imperfections, problems.

Zane C Hodges in his books - notably "Absolutely Free" - and he knew Greek - makes clear that nothing other than belief in Jesus saves us (eternally) - Joh 6:47. Confession is not absolutely necessary. Even obedience isn't if, by grace, a conviction is born in our hearts of who Jesus is. Even repentance isn't since the whole works of John contain no reference to repentance and he wrote that people might believe in Jesus. // I am interested in the process of faith. I now recognise that every stage of the process of faith can be shown to be marked by grace and no amount of confession or repentance or obedience will generate faith - only a willingness to hear God's/Christ's rhemata. In listening to exposition of the logos, God may also quicken parts of it by speaking rhemata to your heart but without "hearing" God, true saving faith rarely, if ever, comes. You can listen but only God can allow you to hear; it helps if you have a humble heart. Hearing God is the issue - "My sheep hear My voice". It is possible for confession, obedience and repentance to precede faith but they are not necessary precursors to it, despite some verses that seem to suggest so. Mr Hodge's books are excellent on these issues. // The question is, how much do you need to know about Jesus before God considers that you have responded to the revelation in your heart that He is God? While the Jews were prepared for a Messiah (and knew some characteristics that He would show), gentiles weren't. The grace of God is so HUGE that, in practice, I think you need to understand very little. Nevertheless talking about Jesus and giving people an idea of Who He is and what He's done is crucial. Where you start from and which characteristics you emphasise depends on the person you speak to, since you don't know where they are coming from - their "world view". Depend on God for the words to give your listener and you may be speaking God's rhemata to them - and they won't return void (LXX Isa), whether or not you see the person again. If, by God's grace, you are given words to speak and if, by God's grace, the person hears God through you then that person will be changed, at least to a degree, and will be further on in their faith process towards God. You don't have the responsibility to convert - within two minutes or within any period of time - but if you are faithful to speak the words God gives you (whether conscious of that happening or not), then those words are powerful.

I remember the gist of a comment made by the late Keith Green - a Christian musician - on one of his albums. He said "Do you want to know a really good definition of what a Christian is?: someone who is bananas for Jesus". Not very theological - and under that definition I don't count - but I think I know what he means. Sharing your enthusiasm (en +theos) with someone is one good form of evangelism.

Thank you for your thought today. Here is my thought today, I hope it blesses you. Daleth From the Pastor’s Desk Psalm 119:25-32 My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. (25) I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes. (26) Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders (27) My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word (28) Remove the false way from me, and graciously grant me Your law (29) I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me (30) I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame! (31) I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart (32) (Psalm 119:25-32) We as people can take dietary supplements to strengthen our mental alertness, and strengthen our physical bodies, but it takes the Word of God revive our spirit person. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has sent the Holy Spirit to answer us, teach us, our Father statues, and give us good understanding of His Precepts. As we Read the Holy Bible, then, we meditate on Your wonders, so in our moments of grief, despair, and solitude, the Holy Spirit leads us to the Word of God for our daily spiritual food. Only Your Word removes the false way from us, and lead us in a righteous path. We have chosen You over all futile things in this life, we love Your law, cling to Your testimonies, and commandments. Thank You Heavenly Father for enlarging our hearts with Your love through Thy Gift of the Holy Spirit.

What is the correct answer? My response would be to initially have a sudden panic attack whilst searching for an answer, but joking apart, I would have to say something like, a Christian is a person who has put all his trust in Jesus Christ to deliver on His promises. I don’t think the question “what is a Christian?” , is wrong but the way we try to answer it. We try and give a generic answer rather than a personal answer. In my case the answer would be, I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is God and only through faith in Him can I receive eternal life. And if the bus was running late as it does in Scotland, I would elaborate more by saying, I am powerless over my destiny after death because I have no control over anything, I can’t buy my way into God’s presence or earn my way by doing good works. I can only trust in the promises of Jesus and know that He will deliver on those promises. I would be interested in the correct answer. Shalom, Mel

I would say..We were made by God to be his children of happiness and to live with him physically in body.Happiness comes only through the ability of freeness to be happy.But the Misuse of this ability to freely love and obey God has made shipwreck of whole creation.There by we have become pain to God,pain to ourselves,pain to others even whole creation that's why u will have no creature without pain n suffering.But God is not silent ,he was acting Through out history to rescue for himself a people, that's where comes Noah, Abraham to be a instruments of his resuce operation through whom his Son Jesus who was promised to humanity has come.In his apt time he sent this son in our form to bare our pains and sufferings due to our Rebellious character and the consequences thereby on the cross.So he now wants u to forsake and repentof Ur unwillingness and Misuse of freedom to follow Jesus (God) by calling upon his name and being baptized into his death for forgivness of Ur sins so that he can give his spirit to be with u untill his son comes again to live with his people on this earth and throw others out.like Jesus rose with new body ..u will raise with new body to live with Ur God in new earth.

Hi Bill, Thanks for the thought provoking blog. We’re working down in east Houston rebuilding as many flooded homes that we can thru our church. My desire is to do some prayer walks tru the neighborhood as well and would appreciate some more clarity from your study or other references on how could we clearly communicate the gospel in 2 minutes. I’d love some guidance on this to help train those that desire to be a part of these door to door interactions. Help with conversational evangelism would be greatly appreciated. Bless ya!

Hello Bill, I understand that this blog is meant to stimulate thought and not provide a difinitive answer; however, since you seem to have spent considerable time formulating a response, I would love to hear it. This continues to be a question I wrestle with... both as it relates to my conversion (I’m not questioning my salvation, just the point of origin) and evangelism. This takes on particular significance when witnessing to my family members who are Catholic. And since I’m currently in seminary (I’m 39, so ministry will be my second career), my answer is getting longer! Thank you, John Healy [email protected]

Bill, Good thoughts...thank you. I must answer for myself and cannot answer for you. Also, one’s answer indicates a legalisticor a relational perspective. Dave Laton, D.Min.

It is a horrible question. Ask horrible questions, & get horrible answers. Ask your wife what is the minimum she would like for you to be her husband. Jesus was not interested in Occam's Razor. A better question (a biblical question): What must I do to be saved? A biblical answer: Accept God's grace by entering into a Covenantal Relationship with Christ through faith, repentance, confession, baptism, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, & obedience.

With fear and trembling, I venture forth. “What is a Christian?” is quite a different question than “What is the minimum it takes to get into heaven?” The former can be answered as a dictionary definition. If your bus stop person is interested, then you should have a 1.25 minute answer for the rest of the time left as to WHY you are a Christian. The latter? Well, it really IS the wrong question! I am a Christian, but it's not simply for a passing grade or to make the cut. How sad would that be? "Yes, I am saved. Got that box checked. Now, back to Wall Street for more plunder!" Kind of misses the point of Christianity, don't you think? Despite the off-track nature of the question, it can be answered in less than two minutes. The answer should be based on one's own experience (which is the only basis for relational evangelism). I believe it should also have a Biblical basis, so it can be "fact checked" by the person later. One possible answer would be "Believe that Jesus, as God's representative, lived on Earth to show you the way to heaven. Then ask Jesus to guide your life from hereon out." Repent? Sin? Forget it - too churchy and too loaded for a bus stop. I suspect there are a number of valid answers; in the end, you can only tell what you know. One evangelist plants, another waters, but it's God who makes faith grow.

In two minutes something needs to be said of sin, the consequences of sin, and God's remedy for sin (faith in Jesus' work on the cross accomplished salvation for you if you believe). Everything else, Lordship of Jesus, discipleship, doctrine, sanctification, etc., (although very important) comes afterwards. My answer is assuming that the Holy Spirit has worked in the life of the person, and will continue to work.

God created humans in his image yet we rebel by sinning against Him and deserve his wrath and hell. God sent his Son (the perfect image of God) on his people’s behalf to be their sacrifice for sin so that they can be restored to a relationship with God and be conformed to His image. A Christian is a person that turns from their sin and selfishness and to turn to God by putting their faith in Christ. In following Christ they begin to look more like Him, hence the term Christian. That would take about 30 seconds giving them 30 seconds to ask another question. That gives you a minute to give them a track and stress their need for Christ to save them from their sin. At that point you ask them their name and put them on your prayer list.

Thank you for this thought provoking article. I have thought about this very topic and still have not come to a two minute explanation concerning the essentials for salvation. For every answer comes two or three more questions. At first glance, the question is somewhat offensive since it appears to imply a cheapening of the Gospel. But in re-reading it, it seems to beg the question, 'what are the fundamental elements necessary for someone to put their faith and life in Christ.' I will continue to work on my two minute explanation, but most importantly, I will place my full faith and confidence in the Holy Spirit to give me just the right words to say to that stranger I encounter.

You must believe that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, (Jesus is both Lord and Christ - the Promised Messiah) and you must believe that His substitutionary death on the cross for your sins (yes your sins - personally) was accepted by God in payment for your sins) evidenced by His resurrection from the dead. Rom 10:9-10, Rom 1:4. That is the Grace of God. It is by Faith in Who He is and What He has done for you, that you may be saved, Acts 8:37, Acts 16:30-31. You must receive Him as Lord and Savior. John 1:11-12. Therefore it is by Grace (His part) through Faith (our part is to believe in Him and receive Him), that we are saved, not our works but His singular work on our behalf. Eph 2:8-9 We have access by faith into this Grace by which we stand, Romans 5:1-2. And it is by faith in Him that we are made righteous, 2 Cor 5:21. Working together with Him, we urge you not to receive the Grace of God in vain, 2 Cor 6:1-2. Would you like to receive Him right now and be saved eternally?

Simple this. I put my entire life, hope, faith and being into Jesus Christ and Him alone to save me and to give me the gift of Eternal Life. There is no other name under heaven given to men through which we must be saved. Jesus and Jesus alone can save me. Nothing and no one else.

Since the beginning, when Adam & Eve became aware of good and evil, we have all had the same dilemma: God is completely holy and we are not. Ever since, all humankind has had to hide from the presence of God. Throughout the old testament, people have begged Him not to speak or have had to cover their eyes with a veil when exposed to the perfect holiness of God. We could not be around God.......or we would die. This is where Christ comes in. Jesus was able to walk in this life perfectly holy and sinless. To me, that is incredible!!! He was able to always do the will of God for his entire 33 (?) years .......something I struggle to accomplish for 24 hours!! Because He did what no man could ever do in walking perfect before God, He was able to take away the guilt of sin in His sacrifice. The sin and consciousness that keeps us (because of our fear of being exposed) from God is taken away. Not only that, but Jesus was raised so that through Him, we can actually be around God again (like in the Garden). Not physically of course.....not now, but spiritually. As a result of being around HIm, we start to naturally become more like Christ (Doing the will of God) as we learn to trust HIm. It would be impossible without Christ! A lot of people believe the judgement is the number of sins that you have over your head when you die. As if there is a secret # that you better not cross before asking for forgiveness. This concept puts Jesus as nothing more than the Old Testament sacrifices. But Jesus is more! God is concerned about restoration and relationship. Restoring you to a relationship with Him so that you can be the new creation that you were always meant to be. The forgiveness is there....its done. So, the Judgement is whether or not you take advantage of that forgiveness to get to know Him. If God provided the way for that .......and you don't take it?? Or if you take the forgiveness, but never step into a relationship with Him? That's what the forgiveness is for! What could you possibly say to that on Judgement day when your creator says, "Away from me ...I never knew you."? Chapter 3 of John sums this up perfectly. (Ironically after the ever popular 3:16): John 3:17-20---- (Pay special attention to verse 19, where it says, "This is the judgment") 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the [f]only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. So what is a Christian?? 1)Someone who realizes their hopeless situation when their life is held up against the holiness of God. 2)Someone who believes that Jesus is who He said He was and that His life and sacrifice were enough to overcome that situation and all guilt associated that would keep us from Him. 3)And someone, who as a result of Jesus' holiness given to them, can now come into the presence of God. To know Him, and He know them. For Him to be their God, and They to be His People. ````````P.S.`````````` It was my intention to keep this less than 2 minutes. I don't think I made it :) But thank you very much for having this. I have been wanting to put to words what I have been thinking about for quite some time now. (What does it mean to follow Christ, Who are the wheat & who the Chaff......which am I if I'm honest, what about the ones who He "never knew"....do we really "know each other"? This realization of what His death on the cross was for (new birth/relation now....not just end of days) has really changed my walk with Him this past year.....and have made a lot of verses that I used to struggle over make sense. I've always known it intellectually but I guess I'm pretty stubborn and never let it sink in at a heart level. Or, more than likely, chose not to listen because walking in relationship with God is going to eventually lead you to change some things in your life. And like all people.........there are some things I don't want to let go of. I hope I communicated this well and that God uses it to speak into someone's heart. Thanks for reading!! I better get at least 1 who reads it ! :)

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