eternal life

Are you sure of a place in heaven?

If you were asked the question, 'Are you sure of a place in heaven?' What would you say? Maybe you wonder whether or not there is such a place as heaven? Or, you may believe in heaven but feel that no one can be absolutely certain of going there? You may feel that by trying to be a good person, you may have some kind of hope for when you die.

You may be surprised to learn that there are many people who can say for certain, 'I know that when I die God will welcome me into heaven and I will live forever in his presence'. At first, this may appear to be nothing but arrogance. Surely no one can have such a high opinion of themselves as to actually believe that they are good enough to inherit eternal life? In fact, it is not arrogance at all. For those who can say, 'I know that I have eternal life', have discovered the greatest truth of all - the very purpose for which the Bible was written - the very reason why Christ came into the world. This great truth is not just for the select few, but is freely given to all who would freely receive it. This leaflet is written so that YOU may know how you can be certain of eternal life.

How can we know?

In the Bible, one of the apostles actually states why he is writing the Word of God, 'I write these things... so that you may know that you have eternal life' (1 John 5:13). How can he be sure? It is because he has learned that eternal life is not something that any of us can earn or deserve. It is a gift from God! 'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life' (Romans 6:23).

Why can't we rely on good deeds?

God's standard is perfection, 'Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect' (Matthew 5:48), and none of us are perfect for, 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). On the face of it, it seems that no one will be able to go to heaven when they die. Yet God wants you to join him in heaven and his very nature means that he is the only one who can make it possible.

What is God like?

God is loving and merciful and does not want to exclude anyone from heaven. The Bible tells us clearly that, 'God is love' (1 John 4:8). But God is also holy and just, and cannot allow sin to enter the presence of his holiness. His 'eyes are too pure to look on evil', and he 'cannot tolerate wrong' (Habakkuk 1:13). If he were to simply overlook our sin and let us into heaven, he would no longer be just and we would bring death into the place of eternal life, for 'the soul that sins shall die' (Ezekiel 18:4). This is God's dilemma, but the wonderful news is that God has solved it! Jesus Christ is God's answer to the predicament!

Who is Jesus Christ?

Everyone has heard of him, but who is he? The Bible teaches us that he is unique, for he is God who came to earth so that he might become a man. This might seem like an amazing statement, but it is exactly how the Bible reveals him. In his Gospel, John refers to him as, 'the Word', and tells us that, 'the Word was God' (John 1:1). He goes on to say that, 'The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us' (John 1:14).

What did he come to do?

In Jesus Christ, God did the most wonderful thing that has ever been done on earth. He took upon himself the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross. Justice has been done, 'The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all' (Isaiah 53:6), and God's love has been revealed, 'God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). Through his death on the cross, Christ has purchased a place in heaven which he freely offers to us as a gift.

How can we receive this gift?

We receive the gift of eternal life through faith. Jesus said, 'Repent and believe the good news!' (Mark 1:15). Repentance means, 'to change your mind'. We must change our minds about God and ourselves. We must recognize that God is holy and just, and that we are sinners who do not deserve anything from him. Even though he has given us so much in our lives, we have gone our own way and through our personal sin we have forfeited the eternal joy for which we were created. Repentance leads us to a deep sense of sorrow and loss. But through repentance we come to a place in our lives where we can believe that God has provided a way of restoring all the things we have lost through sin. To, 'believe the good news' is to trust that God has freely forgiven us for our past sins and offers us a new life solely through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. By believing, we give our lives, in their entirety, over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. True faith is trusting Christ and Christ alone for our salvation. When we do this we have the full assurance of God's Word that we have eternal life for, 'whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16).

How do we know when we have truly believed?

Jesus said, 'You must be born again' (John 3:3). As we repent and believe the good news, God brings about a change in our lives. In the past we had little or no time for him. Now we have a desire to worship him and learn more about him. We find that many of the things that seemed important in our lives fade into the background, and pleasing God becomes more and more important to us. We begin to experience a deep sense of peace, that the Bible calls, 'The peace of God... which transcends all understanding' (Philippians 4:7).

The most important outward step we can take in confirming that we have truly repented and put our faith in Jesus Christ is to make a confession of faith through baptism and joining with fellow believers in fellowship and service. In doing so we find an even greater joy as we share our lives with others and give our lives to God in the service of his kingdom.

Does this make sense to you? If so, will you consider the question: 'Are you sure of a place in heaven?'

All quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible.

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