Can You Be Sure You Are Going To Heaven?

I was surprised by his answer! You might have been startled by his attitude.

It happened at a luncheon. Men and women about to graduate were being honored. Satisfaction was mingled with anticipation. One job was completed; another was about to commence. As would be expected, the table talk concerned where each graduate would be going and what he would be doing. The places and positions were many and varied.

So it was perfectly natural for me to say to one of the men, "Where are you going?" I expected as an answer some place between California and Connecticut, St. Paul and St. Petersburg. Dave's answer was different—very different. Without a moment of hesitation, and it seemed like without an ounce of reservation, he replied, "Heaven!"

Was he joking? Not according to him. He is confident he's going to heaven and says he knows it.

You might feel that that is the ultimate in self-righteousness and arrogance. How can a man boast like that? He must be proud. What gives him the right to claim such perfection? How can he do that!

Others might object, "A minister might be able to say that, but I never could. I'll never be righteous enough or religious enough to earn heaven."

Some might even say, "I try to live a good life and do good works, but I don't think anyone can know in this life that he's going to heaven. After all, God is the Judge. He must decide. Who am I to say I'll go to heaven?"

Well, I have some news for you—you can know you are going to heaven. That's not the haughty claim of the proud or the hasty boast of the uninformed. It is the simple statement of a man who knows what the Bible says on this subject. The Bible does not teach an "I don't know," "I hope so," or even an "I think so" salvation. The Bible clearly claims that you can know for sure you are going to heaven. 1 John 5:13 says, "These things have I written unto you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." Note: It says, "you may know that you have eternal life." That clearly declares that you can know. Furthermore, the Greek word "know" in that verse means "to know for certain;" like you know how many fingers are on your right hand, what your address is, and how old you are. You can be as certain that you're going to heaven as you are of those facts. That's not just the personal opinion of a man. Nor is it merely the doctrine of a particular church. It is the plain proclamation of the Word of God.

That being the case, the natural question is, "How?" How can a person get to the place in his life where he can know he is going to heaven?

Realize You Have Sinned

First, you need to realize that you have sinned. The Bible says, "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23). The word "sin" in the Bible means "to miss the mark." God has, so to speak, put a mark of righteousness on a wall and we've all come short of His mark. God says, "Don't murder and don't hate." We've missed the mark! God says, "Don't commit adultery and don't lust." We've missed the mark! God says, "Don't steal and don't even covet." We've missed that, too. God says, "Don't lie and don't gossip." Who meets the measure of that standard?

Your response might be, "But I'm not as bad as someone else I know." That may be true. That's not the point. The issue is, you have both missed the mark. It's like trying to jump the Grand Canyon. That massive ditch in Arizona is one mile deep and thirteen miles wide. If people tried to jump it, an old person could only jump a few feet. Some young people would jump several yards, but all would miss the other side and land—one mile later—at the bottom.

We've all missed the mark of righteousness; we've sinned. Furthermore, the penalty of sin is death. God has decreed that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

Have you realized that you've sinned? The question is not, "Will you admit you've made some mistakes?" or, "Will you acknowledge you're not perfect?" The issue is, "Has it ever occurred to you that you've broken God's law and, thus, there is a sin problem between you and God?"

See also
Ecclesiastes 7.20; Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 64:6;
Romans 3:919; Galatians 3:22; I John 1:8.

Recognize Christ Paid For Sin

Next, you need to recognize that Christ paid for sin. The Bible teaches "that Christ died for our sins ... and that He rose again the third day" (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). By dying in our place and rising from the grave, Christ paid for sin—in full—and thereby solved the sin problem.

Likewise, we have sinned against God and have a debt to pay—death. But on the cross, by dying in our place, Christ marked our debt, "Paid in Full." So we can be set free from the penalty of sin because Christ took care of the sin problem.

Have you recognized that Christ solved your sin problem? Or, have you been thinking that you have to do something to make up for or take care of your sin?

See also
Romans 3:24,25; Romans 4.25; I Timothy 2:46;
I Peter 2:24; I Peter 3:18; I John 2.2.

Rely On Christ For Salvation

Then, you need to rely on Christ for salvation. The Bible says, "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). "Faith" in the Bible means to "rely on, rest in, or trust." To be saved from the penalty of your sin by faith means to rely on Christ and not on yourself to get you to heaven.

Let me illustrate. How could you get to the moon? You do not have the ability to jump to it like the cow in the nursery rhyme that jumped over it. There is the possibility, though, that you could climb aboard a space capsule perched on the top of a rocket. If you relied upon the ability of the rocket and not on your own ability, you could get to the moon.

Likewise, when you rely on Christ and His death and resurrection, you go to heaven. John 3:36 says, "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life." "Has" is in the present tense, meaning eternal life is your present possession. The moment you trust Christ as your only way to heaven—at that moment—you have eternal life.

Have you relied on Christ for salvation or have you been trying to get to heaven by your own ability?

If you've not trusted Christ to get you to heaven, why not do it now? Just tell God you realize you are a sinner and you recognize Christ died and arose to solve the sin problem. Then tell Him that right now you are trusting in Christ and not in anything you've done to get you to heaven. You might express your faith to God like this:

Dear God, I confess I've sinned. I believe Christ died for my sin and arose from the dead. I trust Christ to save me from my sin right now. In Jesus' name. Amen.

If you have trusted Christ, you have eternal life. You mean it's that simple? Yes. You mean that's all I have to do? Yes. To have eternal life, all you can do is trust Jesus Christ.

But sometimes people who have trusted Christ say, "I don't feel anything; so how do I know for sure I have eternal life?" To answer that, let me relate a conversation I've had with those who have had this problem.

I say to an American citizen (let's call him Bill), "Have you ever heard the 'Star Spangled Banner' and had chills run up and down your spine?" Bill responds, "Yes." I ask, "Do you have any of those chill bumps now?" Of course he doesn't. So I challenge him with, "Since you don't feel any chills, I doubt that you are a citizen of this country. So prove to me you are."

Bill's rebuttal is, "But I was born here." To which I respond, "But how do you know that?" After a few moments of reflection, he concludes, "I have a birth certificate." With a surprised look on my face I say, "You mean all you have is a piece of paper?"

Right. That's all he has and all he needs. The government has decreed that because Bill was born of American parents, he is an American citizen. They have given him a piece of paper to prove it.

Likewise, God has decreed that when you trust Christ, you have eternal life. You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). He has given us a piece of paper (the Bible) to prove it. So the way you know you have eternal life is to take God at His Word.

See also
John 3:36; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9,10;
2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Ephesians 2:6,19-22.

 God Said It. Whether I believe it or not, That Settles It!