Do I have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven? 

 May 11, 2023

Is it necessary to believe in Jesus to go to heaven? Can't I just be a good person and be saved? In this post, I share a story of Kathryn. She was royalty and a kind person, and died not knowing who Jesus was.


A visit with a spirit who didn't believe in Jesus

I'd like to share a story of my conversation with a women who died who never knew about Jesus. She was royalty and led a wonderful life.

What happened to her? What happens to so many like her, those who are good and kind but don't know about Jesus?

Before I share that story, let's take a quick look at what the scriptures say about whether we have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven.

Is belief in Jesus necessary?

There are many who believe that all one has to do to go to heaven is to be "good." Having a belief in Jesus is often touted as not necessary. After all, the logic goes, there are so many people who do good in this world, and who aren't Christians, surely they won't go to hell?

There are many layers to this question. I won't address them all in this post. Let's go with the basic question for today. Do I have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven?

The scriptures are clear that the only way to the Father is through Christ.

"Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6, NIV)

The scripture that is most clear about our need to believe in Jesus to go to heaven is John 3:16. Unfortunately, the second part of the scripture is often left off, and it is the most important part!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life." (John 3:16, NKJV)

These scriptures plainly state that we must have a belief in Jesus. 

What is heaven?

The second part of the question of, Do I need to believe in Jesus to go to heaven? requires that we know what we mean by "heaven."

Heaven is more than being in the spirit world. Because Jesus died and was resurrected, all who ever live will also be resurrected.

We have a physical body, but we are also spirits, living on this earth in our physical bodies.

Death is the separation of the spirit from the body. 

Really, the question is, where do our spirits go after we die? Do we go to heaven or hell? Do we enjoy our experience or do we suffer?

To grossly oversimplify things, let's say for now that heaven is being with Jesus and God, and hell is being separate from them.

Although this statement is a simplification, it's also quite true at its essence.

Think about times in your life when you have gone astray and haven't followed God. Compare that with times when you are keeping his commandments and living the gospel.

I know that when I wasn't following God, I definitely suffered. I didn't necessarily recognize it at the time, but once I came unto God, it was very clear.

What happens when we die and don't believe in Jesus?

God is merciful. He is also loving. He desires for all of His children to return to Him and to be with Him eternally. Any loving parent would want their children to be with them.

Because He loves us, he provides an opportunity for those who lived but didn't know about Jesus to learn about Him.

A crucial aspect of our lives is agency, and that requires knowledge to be able to make a choice. If someone hasn't learned about Jesus, how could they be punished eternally? They were never given the opportunity to make a choice to believe in him or not.

Let's go to the story of Kathryn, the woman who died without knowing about Jesus.

A conversation with a spirit who didn't know Jesus

It's early, well before sunrise. I'm sitting at my desk specifically for this purpose. To talk with those who have died not knowing who Jesus was. I start with a prayer, and this morning am greeted by Kathryn. This is her story.

Kathryn was the daughter of a king. Royalty. She had it all - wealth, power, a comfortable life. A sheltered life.

Life outside of her father's castle was harsh and difficult. She was well educated, bright, and spent her days learning and developing talents as was common for royal women of her time. 

Kathryn stands before me, well dressed and well poised. She is tall and elegant, kind and courteous. She has an air of expectation about her.

do i have to believe in jesus to go to heaven

She shares, "My days were spent in fun, enjoying all life had to offer. My days were colorful, happy, and serene. I was always treated well and well cared for, as were all in my family. I came from a loving home, and my life was good and uneventful."

"When I died, I was shocked by the darkness and dreariness I saw around me. I didn't understand where all the colors had gone. Where was all of the joy and happiness? I searched for my family but couldn't find them."

"One day, I saw a group of three women who were bright, white light. At last! I went to talk with them, but they disappeared. I was so sad. But now that I new these beings existed, I looked for them."

"Finally, I found more. It was a whole congregation! They were all gathered together, listening to someone talk."

"I came and joined them and felt an overwhelming sense of peace and belonging and love. I'd never felt anything like it before. It was glorious."

"As I listened, I heard the speaker talk about Jesus. I'd never heard of this Jesus before. I surmised if all of these people listening to this person talk about Jesus were so bright and brought a sense of peace, then it must be because of him in some way."

"I discovered that they met regularly, so I went as often as I could to listen and learn. I discovered that as I kept going, that feeling would stay with me when I wasn't there."

"My body also became more and more light! As it did so, my eyes opened and I saw more of the goodness that was around me. It was present! I had just never seen it before. It was glorious! The colors were beautiful! I can't even describe how beautiful the colors are."

"Now I go daily and learn more about Jesus. I am grateful for those that preach of him. I am still learning what he teaches, but I know it is what I need to have peace and joy here."

"I am slowly finding my family members, too! They come with me to hear this preacher. They are also in awe at the change listening brings about in us. It is glorious, and I am excited to learn more and more."

"I know that one day, I will be together with all of my family. I anticipate that day with great eagerness and excitement."

"Now I am starting to talk about Jesus to others who will listen, and I bring them with me to hear. It truly is glorious. I had no idea!"

"Jesus is king. I know that one day, I will get to see him myself. I can't wait for that glorious day!"

It's never too late to believe and follow Jesus

Kathryn's story shows us that there is always a time and a way to find Christ, to learn of him, and to choose to believe in him. Although she led a very good life while here on earth, learning of Jesus brought her peace and joy. It makes her world brighter and she is excited to share this good news with others.

I know from my own experience that choosing to follow Jesus does indeed bring peace and light to our days. This world has much to offer, but it is nothing compared to the rest and joy to be found in our Savior.

Main image by Slava Rus from Pixabay

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About the author

Jen Bessire, PhD, is a Christian medium, author, and healer. After 23 years as a physical therapist, God called her to her current path in 2014. She delights in helping others come unto Christ, heal generational trauma, and create a life of freedom. God is calling you - are you listening?

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