Imagine it. You’re standing before God, waiting to see if you will spend eternity in Heaven or in Hell…
That day is coming for all of us. And none of us knows for sure when it will come. But God knows, and He holds your life in His hands. He has already numbered your days. Your heart has to get permission from your Creator before it can even beat again.
So, how can you know for sure you will spend eternity in Heaven? Here’s what God says in His Word that we must do to be saved from Hell and have eternal life in Heaven…
Understand Your Condition…
Even though you may be a very good person compared to others, the truth is that we are all sinners. In Romans 3:23, God says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” How have we fallen short of His glory? By breaking His law. You will quickly understand this by examining your life in light of the Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20:
- You shall have no other gods before me. If you have ever allowed anyone or anything to be more important to you than God, you have broken this commandment. That means if other people or things have been more of a priority to you than your relationship to God, you have broken God’s law.
- You shall not make for yourself any graven image. Our idea (image) of who God is must be correct, or else we are worshiping our own image of Him instead of the real God. God has told us that he is loving, kind, merciful, and patient. But He has also told us in His Word that He is just, wrathful, and angry with sinners every day. If your image of Him has been incorrect, you have broken this commandment.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Any time you use God’s name in a way that does not show honor and respect for Him, you sin. Even common expressions such as “Good Lord!” and “Oh, My God!” bring dishonor to the Lord’s name when used to express shock or displeasure instead of praise or prayer.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. When we fail to set aside a day for the worship of God, we sin.
- Honor your father and mother. If you have ever treated your father or mother with anything less that honor and respect, even once, you have broken this law.
- You shall not murder. Scripture says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Jesus taught that hatred and unholy anger (murderous attitudes), put us in danger of hell just as murderous actions do (Matthew 5:21,22).
- You shall not commit adultery. Having any kind of sexual relations with someone you are not married to causes you to break this law. Jesus added in Matthew 5:28 that “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Adultery is a sin of the heart, not just an outward action.
- You shall not steal. If you’ve ever taken something that wasn’t yours, you have stolen and broken God’s law. This includes small items as well as large ones.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Lies and deception are sinful. The bible says “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
- You shall not covet. This means not to want something that is not yours. Greediness and materialism are common expressions of this sin.
We’re All Sinners.
How did you measure up? Any honest person will admit they have failed at one or more points. In case you still feel that you are not guilty before God, consider James 2:10, where He says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
If you break just one civil law, you stand guilty in the eyes of the law. It doesn’t require multiple offenses before you become guilty. In the same way, if you’ve ever broken God’s law, you stand guilty before Him.
Because God is holy and just, He must punish sin. The punishment for sin is hell. Hell is a horrible place of separation from God.
God says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). He also has told us of the consequences of sin: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
No amount of good deeds can save you from this fate, but God loves you, and has provided the way for you to be spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
Understand Who Jesus Christ is and What He Has Done for You…
Jesus is God. The bible teaches that, from the beginning, Jesus has been, and will always be, God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14). The scripture also says, “In Him (Jesus) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).
Jesus became a man so He could die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. Even though He is perfect and sinless, Jesus Christ took on Himself all our sin when He died on the cross. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This act secured the salvation of all who come to Him in repentance and faith: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7-8).
Understand What God Requires of You…
Salvation goes far beyond just “believing in God” or accepting as truth certain facts about Him. The Bible says even demons do that: “…Even the demons believe – and tremble” (James 2:19).
Salvation involves a complete forsaking of everything else we trust, and a turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
“Repentance” is a change of mind that results in a radical life-change. God makes it clear that He requires us to repent: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). “Repent, and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20). Repentance involves turning away from following after your own desires and plans for your life and turning towards Jesus and following after Him. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Luke 9:23-25).
Turning away from sin and turning to Jesus involves both repentance and faith. You’ve got to have faith in the Lord Jesus to save you, not trusting in any good works that you have done but trusting in Christ alone. It’s clear from scripture that good works will not save a person: “A man is not justified by the works of the law” (Galatians 2:16). Instead, you must trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). Notice that trusting Him to be your savior and trusting Him to be your Lord are both part of the salvation experience. You cannot be saved by Jesus without accepting Him as your Lord.
Some people think that believing the facts about Jesus is enough for salvation. They look at well-known verses like John 3:16 that equate belief in Jesus with salvation, and make the mistake of assuming that belief is merely a “head-knowledge” of the facts about Jesus. To interpret the meaning of any scripture, we have to consider the context of the scripture. When Jesus spoke the words of John 3:16, who was He speaking to? He was speaking to a group of people who understood that to believe in Him meant to believe that He was God. This same group of people understood that God had the right to rule their lives, simply because of the fact that He was God. So, John 3:16 (and other “believe” verses like it) doesn’t just require us to believe the facts about Jesus. It requires us to believe those facts and to submit to Jesus as God, or Ruler, over our lives. As we’ve already mentioned, this involves the radical life change known as repentance.
Count the Cost of Becoming a Christian…
It is wise to heed the words of Jesus about counting the cost of following Him: “And whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
“Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27-33).
Don’t misunderstand the point. Salvation is absolutely free. But so is joining the Army. You don’t have to pay money or do work to get in, and all your needs are provided for. Yet in a very real way, both salvation and joining the army will cost you dearly. Salvation can cost you your family, friends, old habits, and for some, even life itself. But the cost comes after salvation, not before. It is a consequence of your salvation and not the cause of it.
Respond in Repentance and Faith…
Turn to the Lord Jesus, repenting from your sin and trusting Him to forgive you and be the boss of your life. As you do, He will save you and give you His Holy Spirit to enable you to live in a way that pleases Him.
If this is your desire, stop and express it to God right now through prayer.
“What if I Have Doubts?”
Perhaps you professed your faith in Christ long ago and are having doubts about your salvation. The two most common reasons people doubt their salvation are 1) They doubt whether they understood the requirements of salvation, and 2) They doubt whether they were truly repentant, genuinely surrendering their lives to Christ.
The answer to the first reason for doubt lies in examining the truths which have already been explained. They will help you to know whether or not you understood what was necessary for salvation.
The answer to the second reason for doubt lies in an examination of the evidence of salvation in your life. The book of 1 John was written in order that we can know if we are truly saved (1 John 5:13). If you doubt that your salvation experience was genuine because of a lack of evidence in your life, consider the following scriptures as a test of whether or not you have been saved.
- Do I walk in the light? “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:7). Walking in the light means living in the realm of truth. Are you a genuine, truthful person, testifying to the truth of God’s Word by your lifestyle?
- Do I deal with my sin by confessing it? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). Do you humbly confess your sins to the Lord, on a regular basis, or do you go on about your life without acknowledging your sins to him for extended periods of time?
- Do I keep God’s commandments? “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (2:3-4). These verses do not mean that you must be perfect to be saved. They do mean that your life must be characterized by keeping the commandments.
- Do I practice righteousness? “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him” (2:29). As with the previous verse, the key word here is practices. What do you make a practice of — righteousness or sin?
- Do I love the things of God or the things of the world? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world” (2:15-16). To love the world is to set your affection on temporal things instead of eternal things and to be focused on the temporal things of this world instead of the eternal things of God. Where are your affections? Where is your focus?
- Do I love the brethren? “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (3:10). The issue here is not a love for the unsaved but a love for the saved. Do you love all Christians?
- Do I have the Holy Spirit? “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (4:13). The fruit (results) of the Holy Spirit in the Christians life is listed in Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. Are these fruits evident in your life?
If you are having doubts, set aside a day to seek the Lord, considering the Scriptures and questions above. Only the Holy Spirit can give you assurance of your salvation (Romans 8:16). If you realize you have never received His gift of salvation, by God’s grace, turn to Him in repentance and faith and gain the assurance of eternal life!