If you were to die today would you, without a doubt, go to Heaven? If you would, then how do you know? If not, then would you like to?
The Bible is a very large book but it can be condensed into the simple message of John 3:16,
[Jhn 3:16 ESV] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God’s desire is that we have eternal life, that is, that we go to Heaven. What we call going to Heaven and being saved is what God calls “eternal life.” Can we know we have eternal life? God says, Yes!
[1Jo 5:13 ESV] I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
God made it so that we can know we have eternal life. God’s word is written so we can have eternal life and have a relationship with him. If we read the Bible we find out that Jesus is the key to going to Heaven.
Jesus is the way!
God’s love was shown by the sacrifice of Jesus. This verse is a basic overview of God’s plan to save mankind. There are more details to God’s plan than this, but Jhn 3:16 is a good overview. The way God saves the world is through his Son’s death. It was by God’s love. It requires faith. It gives eternal life. Eternal life is a life that never ends, meaning when our life on earth ends there is still life to live in Heaven.
[Jhn 8:24 ESV] (Jesus said,) “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
Notice in John 8:24 how Jesus gave two options? One is believing and the other is dying in our sins. The reason that we needed Jesus in the first place is because of our sin. The problem of sin is only solved by faith in Jesus. Faith–believing Jesus is the Son of God–is our way to having eternal life and going to Heaven.
Sin separates us from God!
[Isa 59:1-2 ESV] 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Sin makes a separation between sinners and God. Those with sin need to be saved. But the problem is: we all sin!
[Rom 3:10, 23 ESV] v. 10 …None is righteous, no, not one …
v. 23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
The Bible calls the state of being separated from God death. Eternal life is having a relationship with God and going to Heaven. Death is having no relationship with God and being destined for Hell. Sin separates us from God, so sin produces death. Sin means we need to be saved and God wants us saved too!
[Rom 6:23 ESV] For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If all people sin and sin separates us from God, then all people are separated from God. If Jesus is the solution to sin, then that means all people need Jesus. Jesus is the good news!
[Eph 2:1-10 ESV, partial] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved …For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast …
God brings us from bad news to good news–from death to life! God does not want to give us what we deserve, Hell. God wants us to go to Heaven because he loves us and is rich in mercy. God has grace, which means favor. He favors us. He gives us something we do not deserve.
Saved by God’s grace!
The message of Jesus’ death is called the Gospel. The Gospel is God’s power to save us if we have faith. If we have faith in the Gospel, the message that Jesus died for us, then we can be saved.
[Rom 1:16-17 ESV] For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Without faith you can’t please God.
[Heb 11:6 ESV] And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
What is faith?
Belief/faith is the way to access eternal life. But what is the definition of “faith”? Is it faith to believe there is a god? What is God’s definition of faith? James says even the demons believe in God, so not all kinds of “faith” give you eternal life.
[Jas 2:19 ESV] You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!
Is it faith to believe in God and do nothing God commands us to do? Jesus tells us that part of faith is obeying God. Faith alone is not enough to gain eternal life. There are other parts required of us in order for us to be saved by God. Another piece required is baptism.
[Mar 16:16 ESV] (Jesus said,) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
To be saved, both faith and baptism are required. Jesus assumes people who believe/have faith will get baptized. Jesus did not consider the possibility of a person believing the Gospel and not being baptized. Baptism is something you do when you believe. Jesus did not say, “Whoever believes will be saved,” he said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Jesus’ words show how important baptism is. Look at Acts 2 where Peter also connects faith and baptism.
[Act 2:36-38 ESV] 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 36 is a description of the Gospel: the crucified Jesus is the Messiah, that is God’s chosen one. In verse 37 it sounds like the people believed this; they were convicted, “cut to the heart.” They asked Peter what they should do. What do you do when you believe Jesus is the Messiah? Peter gives them the answer in verse 38. Notice what he said: (they believed) Faith + (Peter said) repentance + baptism = forgiveness + Holy Spirit. Repentance means changing our minds and lives. Repentance is committing to avoid sin and turning your life to God. Forgiveness is eternal life because sin is what keeps us from God so if sin is forgiven, then we are brought together with God, meaning we are saved!
Saved by the Gospel
The Gospel = Jesus’ death + burial + resurrection. God saves through this Gospel.
[1Co 15:1-4 ESV] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…
Peter said in Acts 2:38, we have to repent and be baptized to be saved. Obeying the Gospel includes baptism. Baptism connects us to the sacrifice Jesus made. When we are baptized we unite in Jesus’ death, we unite in his burial, and we unite in his resurrection. Like Jesus, we go from death to life. We undergo a death, burial, and resurrection like Jesus.
[Rom 6:3-4 ESV] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Our eternal destination depends on us obeying the Gospel. Not doing so leads to wrath.
[2Th 1:7-8 ESV] (When God judges the world,) …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. We obey that by undergoing our own death, burial, and resurrection in baptism and then by living a new life submitted to God. Our new life is dedicated to obeying God’s commands and will result in eternal life.
[Rom 6:22 NIV] 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
This is how we know we are going to Heaven. When you have faith in the Gospel (Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection), and repent from your sins, and are baptized, you gain eternal life (and forgiveness of sin and the Holy Spirit).
So, I ask once more, if you were to die today would you, without a doubt, be going to Heaven?