This is a loaded question. The answer can start a firestorm of outrage over one’s intolerance and close-mindedness. Let me say that I am not intolerant or close-minded, at least not in the traditional sense. However, I do believe in absolute truth. Also, I do believe in logic. Finally, I believe that the Bible is true and, as a result, that Jesus Christ is the perfect incarnation of God. That said, let’s answer the question, “Do only Christians go to heaven?”.
Here is a primary text for this topic:
John 14:1-6 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
In this passage, Jesus is teaching about the dwelling-places that God the Father has. A number of other Bible passages teach us that God’s abode is Heaven (e.g. Matthew 6:1, 9). He tells His followers that He will prepare a place for them there. Thomas poses a question asking how can they get there. Jesus responds in verse 6 stating that He is the only way to the Father. Now, this may seem intolerant to some, but I didn’t say it, Jesus did.
Here is another key passage:
Acts 4:10-12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Verse 12 shows that Peter taught that salvation is through Jesus alone. Now some may say that Peter was talking about salvation from physical ailments because that is what prompted the discussion. However, a review of the context beginning in verse 1 of that chapter shows that what originally caused the concern of the religious leaders was that Peter had been preaching about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (vs. 2). As Paul confirmed, the resurrection is directly related to spiritual salvation (1 Corinthians 15). Peter was promoting salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Here Jesus, the Son of God, is presented as the exclusive way to have everlasting life. John elaborated on this concept.
1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
John again presented Jesus as the exclusive way to have eternal life.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The contrast is clear. Without Jesus, “the wages of sin is death”. With Jesus, “the gift of God is eternal life”.
These are only a few of the passages and lines of reasoning that could be cited, but the conclusion is obvious. Jesus is the only way to the Father in heaven. This is not a bigoted, hateful statement. Rather, it is a foundational principle of the Christian faith, taught by Jesus and the apostles.
While Jesus is the exclusive way to heaven, Christianity is not an exclusive religion. It is a relationship with God which is open to the entire world (John 3:16). Every person is invited to believe on Jesus Christ and receive eternal life. God loves everyone and desires all to accept His gift of salvation (2 Peter 3:9).