Famed evangelist Billy Graham has said that the only thing keeping us out of Heaven is our sin, and the only thing that will enable us to enter Heaven is to be cleansed of that sin.
The 98-year-old Baptist pastor recently responded to a reader who asked, "How much do you have to believe about God in order to get into Heaven?"
Graham said: "Only one thing will keep us out of Heaven-and that is our sin. And only one thing will enable us to enter Heaven-and that is to be cleansed of our sin."
The pastor explained that because God is so holy and pure, even just one sin is enough to banish us from His presence.
"That may be hard for you to accept at first, but when we sin, we are actually rebelling against God and turning our backs on Him-and that is wrong. And we're all guilty; as the Bible says, 'There is no one righteous, not even one' (Romans 3:10)," he continued.
How, then, can we be cleansed and made righteous in God's eyes? It's impossible to do on our own, said Graham.
"We can't cleanse ourselves; no matter how good we are, we can never erase sin's stain on our hearts," he said. "But God can cleanse us-and that's exactly what He made possible when He sent Jesus Christ into the world. Christ was without sin-but on the cross all our sins were transferred to Him, and He took upon Himself the judgment and Hell that we deserve. He died in our place!"
He concluded: "What do you need to do? Turn to Christ and confess your sins to Him. Then put your faith and trust in Him alone for your salvation, and ask Him to come into your life."
According to a study from LifeWay research, two thirds (67 percent) of Americans believe heaven is a real place. However, just under half of Americans (45 percent) say there are many ways to heaven-which the study notes conflicts with traditional views about salvation being linked to faith in Jesus.
Earlier, Graham described Heaven as a place in which its inhabitants "will be freed from the fears and insecurities that plague and haunt us in the present life. No energy crisis there ... Free from the economic and financial pressures that burden us down here. Free from the fear of personal and physical harm ... No fear of personal failure ... Our relationship with Him will be intimate and direct. I'm looking forward to that glorious day of going to heaven."
"Heaven will be what we have always longed for. It will be the new social order that men dream of. All the things that have made earth unlovely and tragic will be absent in heaven. There will be no night, no death, no disease, no sorrow, no tears, no ignorance, no disappointment, no war. It will be filled with happiness, worship, love, and perfection.