CAN WE KNOW FOR SURE WE'RE
GOING TO HEAVEN WHEN WE DIE?
Much to his surprise, a man recently discovered that
his dying father was worried he would not go to heaven.
His son said, "But Dad, I don't know anyone who has
lived a better life than you! You're the best man I
know." The troubled father replied, "I just don't know
if it's enough."
Can we know for sure we will go to
heaven when we die?
One of the most fascinating stories in the Bible
sheds light on this question. In Numbers 21:5-9 the
Israelites were in rebellion against God. As a result
they were being bitten by poisonous serpents and dying.
Suddenly the people had a flash of wisdom. They
confessed their sin and asked Moses to pray for them.
When Moses prayed, God gave him some very strange
advice: Make a bronze serpent, and lift it up on a
pole. If any one is bitten, he shall look at the bronze
serpent and live.
In the New Testament the plot thickens. Jesus Christ
reveals that the bronze serpent represents Him! He says,
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so
must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes
in Him may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15).
The problem, of course, is that people look to other
places for their salvation. Instead of looking to Christ
lifted up on the cross, many people look to themselves.
They believe the notion that "good people go to heaven
and bad people go to hell" and thus they try to make
themselves "good enough" to go to heaven. Their trust is
in themselves. Their confidence is in their own
In Luke 18:9 Jesus tells a parable to "some who were
confident of their own righteousness." In the parable a
man boasts in God's presence, "God, I thank You that I
am not like other men....I fast twice a week, and I give
tithes of all that I get." This man is impressed with
himself. He deludes himself into thinking that he is
right with God, but Jesus assures us that he is not.
So many people today make the same mistake. They
think they will get to heaven because of their own
righteousness. "I'm basically a good person....I haven't
killed anyone....I'm better than most people....I've
done more good deeds than bad....I attend
If we rely on our own goodness to get us to heaven,
we will never get there. Jesus Christ says, "I am the
way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father
but by Me" (John 14:6). The Bible tells us what Christ
did for us and why:
Christ died for our sins,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
that He might bring us to God
--1 Peter 3:18
Jesus wants us to "trust in Him" because nothing else
is capable of bringing us to God. Not good deeds. Not
religion. Not anything.
Jesus died to pay sinís penalty for us and rose again
to make a relationship with God possible. Now God can
justly offer forgiveness to those who would otherwise
spend eternity in hell. Good people donít go to heaven;
only forgiven people do.
Do you agree with God that you need the forgiveness
He provides through His Son? Self-righteous people are
too proud to admit they need a savior. The cross of
Christ seems irrelevant to them. They neglect or refuse
Godís offer to rescue them from their sins because they
think they are just fine on their own. They trust in
their own righteousness.
Godís two greatest commandments are "to love God with
all our heart, soul, mind, and strength" and "to love
our neighbor as ourselves." Who can claim to have kept
these commandments perfectly--even for five minutes?
Many people donít realize the danger we are in. Godís
assessment of our situation is summed up in the
following Bible verses:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
The wages of sin is death (eternal separation from
God) but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).