Even in our contemporary secularistic world, this question of Eternal Salvation is still very relevant. It is true that most people are interested in watching television and listening to music, grasping for more money, seeking advancement on the job, buying the latest fashions, and finding sexual fulfillment. Yet people, in their more thoughtful moments, do want to know what will happen after they die. After all, none of us is guaranteed another day, much less another year or another forty years. Therefore, it is prudent to find out now how one can live forever in a better place. If one fails to make this provision now, it will be eternally too late! Before we directly answer the question on how we can prepare to go to heaven, we need briefly to look at some basic, spiritual truths. Only then will we be prepared to know if we will go to heaven.
God’s Part in the Answer of Your Eternal Salvation
Since God created us and continues to sustain us, we must go to Him for the answers to our spiritual questions. The Word of God simply says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). We also read: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (1:27). If God created each of us and the entire universe, and if He is Lord of heaven and earth, we must go to Him to discover how we can be sure of the future.
First, each of us has sinned against God.
In order to have fellowship with God our Creator, we must be like Him and do His perfect will. However, each of us has turned away from God. The Bible (God’s Word) says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). You and I have chosen our own selfish path and neglected to obey our loving God. We have chosen to do our own will rather than doing His will. There is no exception to this: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And even one unforgiven sin makes us a “sinner” before God! The fact that we are all sinners before God is our serious predicament!
Second, our sin separates us from God.
When we sin against God, we separate ourselves from Him. The Bible says that your sins “have made a separation between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2). We also read of the dreadful condition of those who are in this state of separation: “You were at that time separate from Christ, . . . having no hope and without God in the world. . . . excluded from the life of God” (Ephesians 2:12; 4:18). In this condition, our situation is desperate! We can’t go to be with God in heaven as long as we are alienated from Him. We can’t be friends with God while still in our sins!
Third, our sin has serious results!
As if this were not enough, God goes on to explain more fully the result of our sins. What are some of these consequences? Because of our sin, we are under God’s righteous anger (Ephesians 5:3-6). We dwell in spiritual death: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins” (2:1). We will not be able to enter the wonderful coming Kingdom of God: “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). We will not have eternal life (John 3:36). Those who die in their sins (John 8:24) will suffer the horrible “second death” which is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8). We will be separated from our loving God and Jesus Christ our Savior—forever (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 25:41,46). Surely it is important to discover how to find the solution to this dreadful condition! Otherwise, we cannot have eternal life.
Fourth, God has solved the sin problem of our Eternal Salvation!
God, in His great wisdom, love and mercy, has come to our rescue in providing a way for us to avoid the consequences of our sin. This truth is quite plain: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This means that God, in love, sent His only unique Son, Jesus Christ. Christ came to this earth for the purpose of dying for our sins (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus was willing to take our sins that were worthy of eternal condemnation and die for them! When He went to the cross, suffered and died, He carried our sins there so that we need not bear them (1 Peter 2:24). “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (5:6). Not only this, but God raised Jesus His Son from the dead so that we have a resurrected, living, glorified, and powerful Savior who is able to rescue us from sin and death!
Fifth, Jesus is the only escape from sin, death, and hell.
Many people are offended that Jesus is the only way to eternal life, but if Jesus created us and died for us, we can see why He has a right to make this astounding claim. He declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). He is the only Mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:5). Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, and Lenin are dead; Christ Jesus is alive! We cannot go to heaven apart from Christ who reconciles us as guilty sinners to a holy and loving God!
Our Response to God
Our deliverance from sin by the Lord Jesus is like a gift. How do you receive a gift? You must accept it! A gift is available to us only if we accept it and meet any condition associated with its provision. How do we personally respond to God so that we may have the gifts of forgiveness, everlasting life, eternal salvation, and the Holy Spirit?
First, we must admit our sinful and helpless condition.
Most people pridefully refuse to admit their helpless state. They try to achieve their own way to heaven by doing good things, by going to church, by being religious, by giving money to the poor. But even with all of the good things we do, we are still sinful. We just can’t make it on our own. And remember that any unforgiven sin will keep us out of the kingdom of God!
Second, we must repent of our sins.
We must be truly sorrowful that we have sinned and hurt the heart of God (2 Corinthians 7:10). But we must do more. We must also repent of our sins. This means that we must have a change of heart regarding them and determine to turn away from them. God’s Word says, “Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19). If we do not repent, we will remain under God’s judgment and will be eternally lost (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Peter 3:9).
Third, we must turn from or forsake our sins.
When we repent of our sins, we must actually forsake our sins. The Bible says that if we confess and forsake our sins, God will have mercy on us (Proverbs 28:13). This means that if you repent of your sins, you must determine to forsake your sexual relations outside of marriage, your homosexuality, your adultery, and your lust. You must turn from your anger, your profanity, your hatred of others, your dishonesty and lying. You must make a clean break with your harmful practices (use of tobacco, getting drunk, drug abuse, overeating). You must turn from your unbelief and lack of love for God and others. You must forsake each and every practice that has led you to sin and caused you to lose interest in God and His Word. You must renounce sin if you expect to be forgiven!
Fourth, you must place all of your faith in God and in Jesus Christ.
We have already noticed that we cannot be good enough to have God’s favor. We cannot undo all of the sin we have committed. But the Bible says that we must believe in the Lord Jesus. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). This means that you must firmly trust God to save you for Christ’s sake. “You may believe that Jesus is the Christ [God’s chosen Savior], the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Place all of your faith and confidence in God the Father and in Jesus Christ (the Messiah) as your Sin-bearer, Savior and Lord.
Fifth, you must acknowledge Jesus as the Lord.
Until now, you have not fully yielded to Christ Jesus. In effect, you have been your own “ruler.” Now you must submissively yield to Christ in everything. Scripture says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). You must turn to Jesus as both your Savior and Lord!
Sixth, be baptized into Christ.
If Jesus is your Savior, it is very important that you be united to Him and have a living relationship with Him. In answer to the question on how to be forgiven, we read this: “Repent, and each of you be baptized [immersed in water] in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Bible further says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). We are baptized into Christ Jesus and baptized into His death. We rise from baptism to live a new life in the Spirit—a life of absolute obedience (Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 2:11-13; John 14:15, 21-24; 15:1-8).
Seventh, live a life of full devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and be faithful until death.
Some people think that if they are baptized into Christ and forgiven of all their past sins, that is all there is to it! This is very much of a mistake. There is more to it than this in our eternal salvation. Suppose a man marries a woman because he loves her and is committed to her. He will want to have sweet fellowship with her and bless her life—and be with her until he dies. In an even greater measure, if we have been forgiven of all our past sins, we will want to love, obey, and serve our God all of our life! We will want to show Jesus how grateful we are for His salvation. Those who say that once a person is saved, he can still live in sin, are absolutely wrong (Romans 6:1-11)! Instead, we have the wonderful privilege of belonging to God and living for Him. Notice these warnings and promises: “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Mark 13:13). “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death” (2:11). Let us not only turn to the Lord Jesus, let us continue to walk in Him and live for Him (Colossians 2:6; 3:1-4).
The Lord Calls You to Eternal Salvation
If a man is drowning, he cannot rescue himself. He must depend on another to cast the rope that will pull him to safety. God knows that you are in a dreadful condition and cannot rescue yourself. This is why it is utterly necessary for you to come to God who alone can save and forgive you. God has made provision for your eternal life through Christ Jesus His Son who died for your sins and was raised to offer you life forever with Him. Will you accept the Lord Jesus and this wonderful gift?
Most people will choose to remain in their sin and continue in their self-chosen way. The pull of the world is too much for them. Their church or religion holds them captive. Certain false teachings bind them. Their spouse or family or friends exert too much influence. Their own heart may keep them away from accepting Christ and going to Heaven. Jesus speaks of the majority when He says: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter through it” (Matthew 7:13). He also speaks of the few: “The gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (v. 14). Although the gate is narrow, it is wide enough for you to enter. The narrow way is wide enough for all who would come in humble, submissive, and repentant faith. Won’t you come to Christ and find eternal life in heaven along with others in the family of God (1 Cor. 12:12-13,27)!
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