Top 10 Questions People Ask About the Christian Faith:
Can You Be Sure You're Going to Heaven?
Do you remember the popular song “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me? It takes listeners through a journey, envisioning what it will be like when they get to heaven and see Jesus?
It is so hard to grasp what heaven will be like, but for some, it is even hard to imagine if they will be there at all.
According to Pew Research Center, “Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven — defined as a place ‘where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.’ But at the same time, 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell — a place ‘where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.’”
Even though most Americans believe in heaven and hell, many are unsure if their final destination will be heaven or hell.
The good news is you don’t have to live your life unsure about where you will spend eternity. If you want to be sure you are going to heaven, here is what you need to know.
Can You Be Sure?
Can you be sure if you’re going to heaven? The short answer is yes.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:11-13
When Christians speak of eternal life, we are referring to eternal life in heaven with God.
This Scripture means that we can be sure we will have eternal life if we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Let’s talk about what it means to accept Jesus as Savior, which is also referred to as salvation.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
You can’t get to heaven without salvation. Salvation implies being saved. Saved from what?
Sin separates. Sin separates us from God, each other, and ourselves – the self you’ve always wanted to be.
The Apostle Paul said we don’t know what sin is except through the law. The law tells us how we’ve sinned.
Ever told a lie? Stolen? Jesus said any sex outside the bounds of holy matrimony, including lustful thoughts, is adultery. He said hatred and anger without cause is the same as murder. Using God’s name as a curse word is blasphemy.
These are just five of the ten commandments, and if you’ve committed these, God sees you as a lying, thieving, murdering, blaspheming, adulterer. I seriously doubt you set out in life to become this. Can you see how sin separates you from God, other people, and even yourself?
In order to be saved, you must first admit you sin. This is difficult because no one likes to think of themselves that way.
But it’s worse than that! Do you know the penalty for sin? “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).”
The good news is God loves you (1 John 4:8). The bad news is God is just (Revelation 20:12-13), and He must punish sin wherever it’s found. If you’re honest with yourself, there’s sin found in you!
God rescued us from the penalty of sin by sending His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came from Heaven to Earth, and He never sinned. Untimely, Jesus died on a Cross. The problem with that is the penalty for sin is death, and Jesus never sinned. Jesus did not pay the death penalty for His sin. He paid the penalty for your sin and my sin.
You broke the law, and Jesus paid your penalty. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is writen: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole (Galatians 3:13).”
If You Confess your Sins…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
Fortunately, the Bible tells us when we confess our sins, we are forgiven and purified. This is important when we are talking about heaven. Heaven is a holy place, which means it is without sin.
Therefore, without being forgiven and redeemed from sin, we can't go to heaven.
However, by placing our faith and trust in the Savior of the world, your sins are paid for, forgiven, and you are redeemed.
Invite Jesus In
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9
To be saved, you must accept the fact that Jesus died for your sin and rose from the dead. Once you accept this forgiveness from your Savior and invite him into your heart and life, then you will be saved.
When you are saved, you can be sure you will spend eternity with your Savior in Heaven.
“You are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person, and heaven is the place. They are a package— they come together. You cannot get heaven without Jesus or Jesus without heaven.” – Randy Alcorn
Good Works and Religion Don’t Count
It’s important to note that many falsely believe they can earn their way to heaven by living a good life (as the Pew Research Center study suggests) or that by being born into a religion, they will go to heaven when they die.
The only way to be sure you’re going to heaven is if you put your trust in Jesus, confess your sins, and invite Him into your life.
“Do not merely assume that you are a Christian and are going to heaven. Make the conscious decision to accept Christ’s sacrificial death on your behalf. When you choose to accept Christ and surrender control of your life to him, you can be certain that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” – Randy Alcorn
Let’s Continue This Discussion
This is an important question, and we want to continue talking to you about it.
We invite you to join a Starting Point group. This 8-week course is designed for people who have questions or desire a new relationship with Jesus.
It’s a safe place for those who are curious and want to learn more about God, Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity.
For a more in-depth look at the answers to this question, we encourage you to read Heaven by Randy Alcorn.