Can I be sure that I will go to heaven? Truthfully there are only two answers to the question. The question is answered either “YES” or “NO“. You either know for sure or you don’t. Now, how are you going to answer the question? Do you know for sure? This question concerns the assurance of salvation.
The Bible says that you can know for sure. That’s what we call the assurance of salvation. 1 Jn. 5:13 says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” He didn’t say, “…that ye may hope that ye have eternal life.” Nor did he say, “…that ye may think that ye have eternal life.” He said, “…that ye may KNOW!”
Would YOU like to KNOW that you are going to heaven when you die? If you would, we’ll show you how from the Bible. There are five things that you need to know and the first three are negative. But that shouldn’t surprise you because Jesus died, that’s negative; he died for sinners, that’s negative; he was buried, that’s negative; and then he rose from the dead, that’s positive.
So, let’s deal with the bad news first.
FIRST, you have to know that you are a sinner. That shouldn’t be so hard, since the Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23).
Nearly everyone believes they are sinners because they know that nobody is perfect. So, while that is bad it is not so hard to comprehend. What’s hard to accept is the second part of the verse that says “…and have come short of the glory of God.”
What that says is best illustrated by a steep canyon, fifty feet wide, with walls as sheer as glass on both sides and with a pit of fire at the bottom. All humanity is on one side of the canyon and God is on the other side. Imagine that everyone gets to make a flying leap to cross the canyon to the other side. Someone as bad as the worst person you can think of jumps and barely makes it 2 feet, he’s so bad. What happens to him? He falls into the pit and burns. Now the finest person you have ever known makes his leap and he makes it 48 feet. What happens to him? He falls into the pit and burns just like the other fellow. Do you know why? Because ALL have “come SHORT of the glory of God.”
SECOND, you have to know that you are going to be judged. The Bible says, in Heb 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” After you die you are going to face God at a judgment and give account of your life. The outcome of the judgment determines whether you get to go to heaven or not.
Most people envision this judgment as one of two things. They either see it as a judgment of all humanity together, where God decides based upon whether each individual did “the best he could” regardless in which religion he grew up or regardless of whether he even had a religion. Those who just didn’t give a flip wind up in hell and those who really tried make it to heaven.
Others see this judgment as a scale. God places all the good things you have done on one side of the scale and all of the bad things you have done on the other side of the scale. If the good outweigh the bad, you’re in. If the bad outweigh the good, you don’t make it.
Neither of these is right. God’s judgment is much more severe that that because he has to judge based upon an absolute standard. In essence, he puts Jesus on one side of the scale and he puts you on the other. If your righteousness doesn’t equal his righteousness, you don’t pass the judgment. Jesus never sinned; you have sinned. He’s righteous; you’re not. It is impossible for any man in his own righteousness to equal the righteousness of Jesus. Therefore, it is impossible for any man on his own merit to pass this judgment.
THIRD, you have to know that your sins have to be paid for. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death,” (Rom. 6:23). When you go to the graveyard you see how men pay for sins. Every body dies.
Men have the idea that they can pay for sins with good deeds or with something like penance. We get that from our childhood training and our religious training. Do something wrong and make it up to mom and dad by doing something good. Do something wrong and make it up to God by doing something good. But God is not like that. The only payment for sin that he accepts is death. When you are paid out, you won’t sin anymore. No dead man can be aroused with the temptation of sin. He’s finished.
But that’s not all. Death only takes care of the bodily payment for sins. There’s still the soul. As Jesus said, “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” (Matt. 10:28). And sure enough, the soul experiences a death as well.
Rev 21:8 says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” So, as the body dies and winds up in a grave, the soul goes through a second death and spends eternity in fire.
And did you see the problem in Rev 21:8? It says, “all liars.” Every man on this earth is a liar. Rom 3:4 says, “yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.” And if all liars wind up in the lake of fire, then there is not a man alive that has a chance on his own to make it out of that lake of fire and into heaven. Just like none of us can escape death.
Let’s just pause right here for a brief summary of these negative things. All have sinned. All have come short of the glory of God. All will be judged against the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. All die. All liars (that’s everybody) wind up in the lake of fire. The conclusion of these negative things is that no man, no matter how good he is or how may good things he has done, can make it to heaven on his own.
FOURTH, you have to know that you have a substitute. Jesus Christ took your place for you in every one of these negative things. 2 Cor 5:21 says, “For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” He switched places with us on the cross.
Look, he lived the perfect life that you cannot live. Then, he became your sins. Whatever sins you have committed, no matter how little or how big, he took them. 2 Pet 2:24 says, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
Then he died. Our sins killed him. As you have seen, “the wages of sin is death.” So, when our sins were placed on his body, he died. He died for you. Rom 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
And if that were not bad enough, he went to hell for three days and three nights to pay for the sins that would also destroy your soul. Mat 12:40 says, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” According to Acts 2:27, his time in the heart of the earth was spent in hell, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.”
So, Jesus is literally your substitute for everything in life that you will face as a consequence of sin. He was a substitute for your lack of righteousness in this life because of sin. He was your substitute in judgment because he was declared righteous by his own Father, our judge. He died to pay your bodily payment for your sins. And he went to hell to pay for your eternal payment for your sins.
And then he rose from the dead and ascended to be with the Father in heaven. In rising from the dead, he beat the four worst enemies any man on earth will ever face. He beat sin, death, hell and the devil. Thus, he is the only person in the universe who can save you (1 Tim 2:5; Jn 14:6).
FIFTH, you have to know that you can receive him by faith and be saved. John 1:21 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” When you receive Jesus Christ by faith, he takes away your sins, he gives you his righteousness, he gives you eternal life, he makes you God’s child, and he gives you himself to reside in you to help you every day. Wow!
Many say at this point, “Well, I have always believed in Jesus Christ.” Okay, but there is a difference between believing in him and believing that he can save you versus believing him, receiving him and trusting him to actually save you.
Let’s illustrate this. Remember the canyon with sheer walls and a fiery pit separating us from God. Imagine that you have fallen off your side of the canyon and you are now holding on to the only rock in the wall, keeping you from falling to your fiery death. At that point you pray, “Oh God get me off this cliff.”
Immediately, Jesus Christ appears ten feet away from you and says, “I am Jesus Christ; and I have come to get you off that cliff. Do you believe that?” And you reply, “Sure. I have never seen anyone else pop out of thin air and profess to be able to get me off this cliff. Sure, I believe.”
At that moment you are no better off than before you prayed. That’s because Jesus Christ is ten feet away from you and you are still stuck on the cliff. So, you see. Merely believing in Jesus Christ and believing that he can save you, doesn’t save you or get you out of the predicament that results from your sin.
So, then Jesus says, “If you believe that I can get you off the cliff, let go of the rock.” Now, if you let go of the rock, you will not only believe him but you will also trust him. That’s what you do when you receive Jesus Christ. You trust him to take away your sins, to give you his righteousness in exchange, to make you God’s child and to take you home to heaven when you die.
Look at a book that has some blank pages in one of the fly leafs. Your life look likes the printed pages of the book, with every printed character representative of sin in your life. Jesus’ life is like the spotless pages of the fly leaf; spotless represents sinless. When you receive Jesus Christ, your substitute, he takes on your record of sin (the printed pages) for which he has already paid in the grave and in hell. So, they are paid for. Then he gives you his righteous record and your life suddenly looks like the spotless pages of the fly leaf, a perfectly clean record.
Then spiritually, you stand before God to be judged, and he declares you not guilty. In essence, if you want to think of it as being weighed in the scales, Jesus Christ is perfectly righteous on one side of the scale and you are perfectly righteous on the other side of the scale. You pass the judgment, not because of anything that you have done, but because of what Jesus Christ has done for you. And that, my friend, is when you have assurance of salvation.
Conclusion: You see salvation is in a man, not in things or good works. People often mistake doing good works for salvation. Your good works are what you do, but salvation is what God has already done for you. You must receive Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can save you. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Eph 2:8, 9).
Do you want some help praying to receive Jesus? Then try praying like this. Dear Lord, I know I am a sinner and that I am on my way to hell. I don’t want to go there. I want you to save me and take me to heaven when I die. So, right now, the best way I know how, I repent and ask you to save me. I receive you as my Saviour. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to live as a Christian, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now if you believe God’s words and have received Jesus, you’re going to know for sure where you are going when you die. You are going to be 100% sure you will go to heaven! That’s what the Bible says about the assurance of salvation.