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 righteousness.

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 church....I....I....I...." Self-righteousness.

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 (Romans 3:23).

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).



ó Jamie Lash                     






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