By Bob Jacobus
Recently the 11-year-old grandson was baptized. Caleb received the Lord before his fifth birthday and was evangelizing his little sister when she was about 3. The family was going to an amusement park, and the back-seat conversation went something like this; big brother asked little sister if she was going to heaven and she replied: “No, I’m going to Kennywood.” Caleb went to an altar call in the children’s church several months ago. He told his mom he “just wanted to be sure.”
This is a good question for all to ponder, “Are you sure you are going to Heaven?”
The first thing to determine is if Heaven and Hell exist in your belief system. If hell is not part of one’s personal schema, then there are two things to consider. If that proposition is true, then where will you go? If that proposition is false, then the holder of such belief is going to hell. Are you sure?
Different religions have different views of the end of biological life destinations and how to get there. Some say that life just circles around and comes back. This belief is called reincarnation and has the caveat that if one is good, the next life is better, and if one is not so good, the next life is worse. This doctrine is called Karma. The Bible teaches the principle of resurrection. All people, good and bad, believer and unbeliever, are resurrected or returned to a conscious life form. The Bible even goes on to state that individuals will be recognized for who they are. Reincarnation is an unending circle, while resurrection is linear with a beginning and no end.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in his great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope” 1 Peter 1:3 NIV
The living hope encompasses a lot of things. We are forgiven for our wrongdoings; we have eternal life in heaven, Jesus not only paid a ransom for our life but continually intercedes on our behalf and so on. Knowing truth is part of the living hope inheritance that cannot perish, spoil, or fade. One very important issue to bring up here, everybody is resurrected according to the Bible, so the alternative to the forever life in heaven is an eternal life in hell.
Many people, like Caleb, have a living hope experience very early in life. By the time they become adult, they often forget the moment of that event. When asked about the experience, some say they just have always believed. A preacher could get really technical here and say you have to do this and that, so on and so forth to be “saved.” If in your heart, you believe Jesus is the Christ and died for your sins and also believe you are going to heaven, then chances are very good you are. If you are sure, you are sure. If you do not know for sure of going to heaven, then chances are that you aren’t. A ten-year-old has the perfect solution to the dilemma; just be sure.
My personal event of knowing for sure is somewhere between the early believer and explicit born-again experience. As a child, I believed but had no view of going to heaven. As a teenager, I disbelieved because it was cool, and I was spiritual when it served my purposes, like getting to talk to a potential girlfriend. At 28, I saw Jesus for who he truly is and wanted to follow Him. So, I sincerely repeated every salvation prayer I could find. I repented, I cried out to heaven, laid prostrate on the ground, had people pray for me, so on and so forth. I could not break into the clear assurance that Jesus accepted me, and I was going to heaven. Part of the problem was my motivation; I did not want to go to hell. The main issue: I was trying to get saved on my own power and wasn’t receiving Christ in my heart. In all the gyrations, I am sure a receiving prayer was spoken; however, there was no breakthrough to God’s peace. In God’s great mercy, He spoke to me these words, “You have to receive it (salvation) by faith.”
It was like heaven opened up and took me. Something had changed. I am sure I had experienced a new birth into a living hope! The change was so complete the next person I saw said, “you got saved, didn’t you?” Yes, I am sure and have had no doubts for 38 years. The thing is…long term salvation does not come from being scared of going to hell. Assurance comes from receiving Jesus for the sake of who He is. I have had many friends over the years who have fallen away because they accepted Jesus for their own purposes or fear of being left behind. There is no power in a personal agenda to keep a grasp on salvation.
Are you sure? If not just ask Jesus, and He will give you an honest answer. He is always ready to become part of your life…forever.
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