Monday, March 3, 2014

Can You Be Sure of Heaven? Part 1

A lot of people assume that the only qualification for heaven is death. They suppose that they, like most everyone else, are good people, and of course good people go to heaven.

And yet, paradoxically, a lot of Christians seem not to be sure about their relationship to Christ. It’s tragic that some non-Christians are more confident that they’re right with God than Christians who sincerely believe in Jesus.

According to the Bible, the first and most important question is, Are you truly saved? Here’s a diagram that envisions the “salvation barrier.” This is the dividing line for all people on this planet. No one is on the line—you’re either on one side or the other. Either saved, forgiven of your sins, “born again,” on the way to heaven, or not saved, not forgiven, not born again, and ultimately bound for hell.

If heaven and hell are real places (the Bible says they are), then the most important issue we will ever face is our eternal destination. There’s a great little summary of what it means to become a Christian you can look at be clicking here. If you have doubts about your salvation, I hope you’ll check it out.

But this post and the ones that follow in this series are about being sure that you’re going to heaven. So I want to suggest a second diagram, what I’ll call the “assurance barrier.”

If you’re above this line, you’re confident that if you were to die today, all your sins are forgiven and you would go to heaven. And below the line, you’re not confident. Maybe you even worry and wonder whether your sins are forgiven, and whether, if you died today, you would go to heaven.

Now if you put these two diagrams together, you get four “boxes,” four types of people.

Box #1. Not saved, not confident. These are people who are definitely not saved, and (appropriately) have no assurance of salvation. Their only hope is Jesus, but they haven’t yet turned to Him.

Box #2. Not saved, but confident anyway. Here are people who don’t believe in Christ as their Savior, but still believe – falsely – that they will go to heaven. They have a tragically misguided sense of eternal security.

Box #3. Saved, but not confident.  Notice this group moves across the salvation barrier. They are truly saved, but they agonize that, though they love Jesus and accept Him, maybe He won’t accept them.
Box #4. Saved and confident. This last group are Christians, genuine born again believers, and they live with the certainty that God has forgiven them, is changing them, and will bring them to heaven when they die.

What group are you in? (And again, if you're in Box 1 or 2, please read this good summary of what it means to become a Christian...) The Lord wants His people to be confident in God's faithfulness to save them. Here's how the Apostle John put it: 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 (1 John 5:13, my emphasis). 

In the next few posts, let's talk about how a person "may know that they have eternal life."