|Assurance of going to Heaven|
|Written by arkwriter|
|Sunday, 09 August 2009 17:06|
ASSURANCE OF GOING TO HEAVEN
When we think about heaven what kind of images come to mind? In describing heaven the apostle Paul quoted Isaiah and wrote: “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9; ref. Isa.64:4; 65:17) In Isaiah 65, Revelation 21 and 22 the picture of heaven includes the following attractive images.
· Joy and rejoicing in the presence of God (Isa. 65:18; Rev. 21:3)
· An end to weeping and crying (Isa. 65:19; Rev. 21:4)
· No more death, sorrow, pain and curse (Rev. 21:4; 22:3)
· Building and living in one’s own house (Isa. 65:21)
· Owning, planting, and enjoying the fruit of one’s vineyard (Isa. 65:21-22)
· Enjoying the work of one’s hands (Isa. 65:22)
· And end to laboring in vain or bringing children into a world of trouble (Isa. 65:23)
· “And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 22:5)
Heaven is the abode of God (1 Kng. 8:30; Isa. 66:1). Our Lord Jesus Christ is now “seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” (Heb. 8:1) He calls heaven “My Father’s House” (Jn. 14:2). There are angels in heaven (Mt. 18:10; 24:36). During this age and time “no one has ascended to heaven.” (Jn. 3:13) Those that are saved go to Paradise, a place also known as “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk. 23:42-43; 16:22). Heaven is the place “in which righteousness dwells” and there dwell “the spirits of just men made perfect” (2 Pet. 3:13; Heb. 12:23). Our Lord Jesus Christ taught: “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as you heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) Heaven is a perfect place because our heavenly Father is perfect and He also wants those who live with Him to be also perfect. The world we are living is imperfect, and Jesus is preparing us to be like Him so that He can take us to heaven when He comes again. (Mt. 24:29-31; 1 Thes. 4:13-18)
One of the most attractive reasons for becoming a Christian is the hope of going to heaven. All Christians want to go to heaven but many are not sure how to get there. At one time I was in the transit lounge of the Manila airport in the Philippines waiting for my flight to Cebu. A young lady sitting next to me saw me reading the Bible and struck up a conversation with me. The Filipinos are very friendly people. She asked me whether or not I was a missionary Christianity and I asked her: “Are you sure you are going to heaven?” Her reply was: “Yes, I am very sure.” , and I told her I was helping the Philippines mission. We started talking about My next question was: “Why are you so sure?” She said: “Because I’m a Catholic!” I then asked her to explain why Catholics are so sure of going to Heaven, and here is what she said: “Because ours is the only true church in the world.” We did not have time to continue our conversation because the public address system was calling our flight. I gave her one of our tracts.
When I returned to Malaysia I asked one of our church sisters whether or not she was sure of going to Heaven, and this was her reply: “I cannot be sure until the day I die.” I then asked her what if she died that very same day, would she be sure of going to Heaven. She paused for a moment, then said, “Well, I’m not sure either!”
On coming back to the United States I talked to one of my Christian friends in the office. We discussed an age-old controversial topic “Once saved, always saved.” My friend believed that no matter what he did he was sure of going to heaven because he was a “born-again Christian.”
Well, if you ask one hundred people at random, "Are you going to Heaven when you die?" the vast majority would answer with varying degrees of doubt -- "I don't know . . . "I'm working on it" . . . "I have no idea" . . . "I'm not sure." Christians from various denominations will give you different answers.
WHAT PREVENTS ONE FROM GOING TO HEAVEN
Most students know definitely whether or not they are going to graduate. Most travelers know where their destination is. Yet ask them where their final destination will be--where they will be living forever--and very few know!
This uncertainty comes from a misunderstanding of what is involved in attaining eternal life and going to Heaven. We need to know the conditions of going to heaven. There are two key words for going to heaven. The first key word is “sin”. This will prevent one from going to heaven.
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” (Isa. 59:1-2)
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:11)
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21)Here is what God says: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:7-8)
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” (Rev. 22:14-15)
WHAT WILL SURELY GET ONE TO HEAVEN
The second key word for going to heaven is “holiness”. This will get one to heaven. Heaven is a holy place where God dwells. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:15-16) “Pursue peace with all men and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)
God’s way for going to heaven is really simple. First He gets rid of man’s sin and secondly, He makes the person become holy to be like Him. Two things are required to remit sin – a perfect sacrifice and the shedding of blood. Why does God require a perfect sacrifice? A sacrifice is something very precious that is given to God in exchange for the redemption that the sinner receives. The second thing that is required for the remission of sin is the shedding of blood. (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11) There was no one on earth to provide this perfect sacrifice and shed pure blood to atone for man’s sin, therefore God was manifested in the flesh as the Lord Jesus Christ. God said: “I, even I, am the LORD. And besides Me there is no savior.” (Isa. 43:11) When Jesus was born an angel proclaimed: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Lk. 2:11) The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Savior in the world. (Acts 4:12)
The first condition for going to heaven is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) What do you mean by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins, for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24) Jesus explained that He was talking about His relationship with the Father (Jn. 8:25-27). He asserted He is God when He said “I and My Father are one.” (Jn. 10:30) You must believe that Jesus and the Father are the same Divine Person. (Jn. 14:8-11) God the Father is Spirit and Jesus is God manifested in the flesh (Jn. 4:24; 1 Tim. 3:16) One must also believe and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as one's personal Savior.
The second condition is repentance and confession of sins. Repentance is necessary for salvation. Jesus asserted, “I tell you, no; unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:3,5) Realizing one’s sins and feeling sorry for them is only remorse. Repentance involves both a change of mind about sin, and a change of heart-attitude toward sin. The person who truly repents will renounce and confess sin, and also make a determination to live a holy life. When this is done on a regular basis the Christian will have the assurance of salvation and going to heaven any time of his or her life.
Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit are essential conditions for going to heaven. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5) Our Lord explained “born of water and the Spirit” refer to water baptism and baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Hence the apostle Peter said: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).
Water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in His blood remits sins, and baptism of the Holy Spirit helps believers towards sanctification and leads them to holiness. It is of utmost importance that one receives the correct water baptism in the blood of Jesus Christ. The apostle John saw the vision of the multitudes in Heaven are “the ones who come out of the Great Tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9,14; ref. 1:5-6; 5:9-10) Having been washed by the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ assures one a place in Heaven. There is no exception whatsoever.
Partaking of the “flesh and blood” of the Lord Jesus Christ is highly essential for going to Heaven. The Lord said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.” (Jn. 6:53-56) Our Lord Jesus Christ was talking about the Holy Communion. (Mt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 10:16-17)
After the Last Supper our Lord Jesus Christ washed His disciples’ feet. When Peter refused to have his feet washed Jesus said to him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (Jn. 13:8) Having a part with the Lord Jesus Christ is to have a very close relationship with Him. We practice washing of feet because it is the Lord’s desire for us to do so and also to receive blessings. (Jn. 13:12-17)
Here are some simple steps of having this assurance of going to Heaven. Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is the initial step. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)
Keeping the Ten Commandments is an important condition for going to heaven. Although salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who gives us grace, but it does not mean that we can commit sin (Rom. 6:15). "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn. 3:4). Our LORD did not come to destroy but to fulfill the Law or the Prophets. He declared, "Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot and one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Mt. 5:17-18). All the Ten Commandments are continued in the New Testament, but the handwriting of ordinances were abolished when Jesus Christ died on the cross (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 9:8-10; 10:1). Every one of the Ten Commandments must be kept. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (Jas. 2:8-12)
During the Old Testament time the people were unable to keep God's Laws because they were doing it by their own efforts. In the New Covenant God puts His Laws in the mind and write them on the hearts of His people (Heb. 8:10; 10:16). He helps them keep His Laws by putting His Spirit within them and giving them a new heart (Ezek. 36:26-27). Jesus Christ taught that in order to have eternal life one must keep the Ten Commandments. (Mt. 19:16-19) “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man; for God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.” (Ecc. 12:13-14) “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14 - NKJV)
All Christians must remember to keep the seventh day Sabbath holy because it is the fourth commandment. (Ex. 20:8-11) Why is keeping of the seventh day Sabbath so essential for going to heaven? It was established during God’s Creation. (Gen. 2:1-4) Jesus said it was made for man and He is the Lord of the Sabbath. (Mk. 2:27-28) The Sabbath will continue to be kept in Heaven. (Isa. 66:22-23) “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.” (Heb. 4:9-11) The word “Sabbath” means rest. If we keep the Sabbath in our present age we will continue to enjoy the Sabbath in Heaven.
It is difficult to talk about all the conditions for going to heaven in one sermon, but I can give you a hint as to how to have an assurance of going to heaven. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (Jn. 10:26-27) I would like to emphasize that it is not the false “eternal security doctrine” that some preach you can do what you please, even commit sin habitually, and still make it to heaven. The statement of our Lord Jesus Christ does carry great moral responsibility and total obedience to Him alone. We must hear His voice and follow His instructions, not doing what we like. If we adhere to the Lord’s teaching then there is definite eternal security – we are then assured of going to heaven, and not otherwise.
Many are deceived into believing that they can continue in sin and still make it to heaven. (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Mt. 7:21-23) “We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22). Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Mt. 24:13) “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Rev. 3:5)
Jesus Christ gives us this wonderful promise, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (Jn. 14:2-4)
After dreaming about the Ladder to Heaven Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven!” (Gen. 28:16-17) To take the upward journey to Heaven you must begin from the place where the Ladder is situated - the “House of God” and “Gate of Heaven”. Every person can begin the quest and journey to Heaven by going to a Christ-centered, Bible-believing, Commandment-keeping and Spirit-filled Church that preaches the truth and the full gospel of salvation.
May God bless you
A sermon based on this article was preached by Paul Wong
to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on June 23, 2001
This article was published on this Website on August 9,2009
|Last Updated on Sunday, 09 August 2009 19:43|