How do we enter paradise/attain moksha/ gain a relationship with God?

If someone believes in God, then it is of the first importance to know what pleases God and how we can be in the right relationship with Him. Our eternal destiny after death makes all other considerations in life look feeble. Jesus said “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” Matt.16:26. Who would want to take a chance where heaven and hell are concerned? Surely we would want to be certain about what it takes to be accepted by God. Let us examine what the three major religions say about this.

First of all, they differ about what the after-life will be like. Hindus generally believe in a cycle of reincarnation in which the individual returns to the earth to live out many lives until they attain the perfection of moksha which is the merging of the self with the ultimate reality of the creator Brahma. In this merging, all self-conscious identity is lost as the soul rejoins the oneness of everything “as a drop of water loses its individual identity when it falls into the ocean”.

Muslims and Christians however believe in a personal God who rewards His followers in heaven and punishes evildoers in hell after a final judgement on their one life. The Quran pictures paradise as a well-watered garden where men are given every pleasure including up to 70 virgins each whereas the Bible talks about a new heaven and earth where God will live in a loving relationship with man who will worship Him forever.

These differences are compounded when we consider what each religion teaches about what we need to do to reach these states. Hinduism teaches that good karma has to be accumulated, through good works and meditation, devotion to deities or the mediation of a guru or ishvar. Only when someone has achieved enough good karma will they escape the wheel of reincarnation and merge with Brahma. Islam has the Shariat or Islamic law to outline what God expects and what He forbids. If Muslims do enough good deeds according to this law to outweigh their bad deeds then they will be acceptable to God on the day of judgement. In Christianity, however, Jesus teaches that no-one will be good enough to reach God’s standards and that it was necessary for Him to die on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world so that anyone who puts their faith in Him can be forgiven of their sins and enter the new heaven on the day of judgement.

Such different routes to such an important goal! Can we be sure that we will be good enough to attain the standards that God requires? What will happen to each of us after we die given the way that we have lived? If we are unsure or convinced that we will fail God’s standards then we know that we need a saviour.