We all grow up with certain views of God, some of them are accurate and some are simply what we believe....but they might not be at all in line with what God says.
Heaven is one of those areas where people have formed all sorts of conclusions, assumptions. But they are not at all what God says is true. For example, many people assume that one goes to heaven based on living a good life. And if one wanted to be more certain (beyond living a good life) some think it would be important to be religious, showing your devotion to God. Whether it’s living a good life or being religious, people conclude that heaven is a reward for their efforts.
That is not true.
The Bible says that to spend eternal life in heaven is a free gift. Heaven is not earned. Here are just a few places where God says that heaven is a gift:
Romans 3:24: “...justified by his grace as a gift...”
Romans 5:15: “But the free gift...”
Romans 5:16: “The gift is not like that...”
Romans 5:16: “...on the other hand, the free gift...”
Romans 5:17: “...of the gift of righteousness...”
Romans 6:23: “...but the free gift of God is eternal life...”
If eternal life is a gift, who is the giver? God. Eternal life is after all, God’s to give. He is the one who determines who will live with him eternally. Fortunately he hasn’t been vague about that, as if he were holding his cards close to his chest. He has made it far easier to have eternal life than most people would guess.
Who will receive his gift of eternal life? God is very clear:
Jesus Christ plainly said, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
Referring again to Jesus: “...everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. 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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned...”(John 3:15-18)
Now you may be thinking, “Believing in Jesus is all that it takes? Great. I’m in!” And you might be wrong about that. It is important to be clear about what it means to believe in Jesus, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Or you may be thinking, “I don’t want heaven to hinge on my faith, in Jesus. I’d rather believe whatever I’d like to about God or gods, and I’d rather that eternal life be my reward for my good life. Beliefs shouldn’t matter.”
We can make up whatever rules we’d like to, but since eternal life is God’s to give, it is God’s view on this that will square with reality. What actually happens to us after death is determined by God, and so it would be wise to put aside all conjecture and see what he says about it, don’t you think?
It’s like applying for a job in a corporation. You might have all sort of opinions and attitudes about the probability of getting that job. But in the end, it is the company’s analysis of you that will determine if you are given the job. To be certain of heaven or not, we need to know what God says about our likelihood of making it to heaven
The following describes what God says is true.
His love for us is not based on our goodness or worth. He loves us perfectly, simply because it is his nature to love us. No one else loves us so purely. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.” “For I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 15:9, 10:10)
Ready for some hard realities? The Bible describes us as unrighteous, futile in our thinking, greedy, arrogant, lovers of self, sexually immoral, quick to slander others, liars, following our lusts and cravings, given to malice, and more. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God...no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
Though we may have moments of doing good to others, in our hearts and actions we daily do things our way instead of God’s way, because we are inherently self-centered and self-focused. The result? “...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.” (Isaiah 59:2)
Due to our moral failures and self-centeredness we could be separated from God forever, because we cannot make up for our own sin. We stand empty before God, ready to be judged and condemned. If we came to God based on our merits, we would not like the consequences.
Jesus, God’s only Son, came to earth to pay for our sin and bring us into a relationship with himself. Our sin may not seem that bad to us, but God is a holy, righteous judge, and any honest person would have to say that we have fallen short of God’s perfect standards. The Bible says that our sin demands the punishment of death, that is how serious it is. Not wanting us to perish, Jesus willingly took our punishment for us, dieing on cross, paying for our sins on our behalf. “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged...” (John 3:16-18)
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (1 John 5:11-12) Jesus said of Himself, “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47) “...he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24)
Jesus was far more than a prophet or a man sent from God. This is uniquely God’s Son, equal with the Father. Everything Jesus accomplished on earth in the lives of many, the miracles, His teachings, and His own resurrection from the dead three days after being crucified...all of it gives reason to fully believe in Him.
Being God, He alone could fully take care of our sin and offer us forgiveness and acceptance with Himself. Jesus alone stands unique.
A person cannot wait until after their death to finally believe in God. At that point, faith would not be necessary because they would know without doubt that God is. God asks us to come to Him now, by faith, and receive Him into our lives asking Him to take His rightful place as God in our lives now. Jesus offered this relationship to us: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him.” (Revelation 3:20)
You can take God at His word, that if you open the door of your heart to Him, He will come in. Would you like to do so now and begin an eternal relationship with God? Ask Him now to come into your life. If you’d like help with the words, you could say something like this:
“God, I do want a relationship with you. Thank you Jesus for dieing on the cross to pay for my sins. Forgive me for going my own way in life, largely without you. I receive you now and ask you to do in my life whatever you’d like, to be my God. Thank you for giving me eternal life and entering my life as you promised. Thank you.”
This is how a person receives the gift of eternal life, by receiving Jesus Christ. For those who do, they become a child of God. “...as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of god, even to those who believe in His name...” John 1:12 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) Eternal life is a gift from God for those who receive Him and we know our relationship with Him is secure.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24)
Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27,28)
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1John 5:11-13)
There is great joy in following Jesus and what He says. Spend time reading the Bible, asking God to show you more about your relationship with Him. One of the gospels, maybe Matthew or John, would be a great place to start. God loves you and wants to give you His perspective on life and on your relationship with Him, leading you into a more abundant life. It doesn’t mean your life will be free from problems. All of us will experience difficulties, heartaches, struggles....but they are faced in an entirely different way when we can turn to God and receive His guidance and peace as we trust Him and seek to obey Him. If you have asked Him to come into your Life tonight, you have begun an exciting relationship with God. Feel free to tell others what you have done.
If you would like to see this explained another way, please see: Knowing God Personally
And if you have just now received Christ into your life please Click Here for more information.
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