Perhaps someone has asked you, “If you died today, how do you know you would go to Heaven?” or “If you died tonight, where would you wake up?” I know I have had people from a few different religious groups ask this question. None of us delight in spending much time thinking about what will happen to us when we die, but the truth is that death is a reality that none escape. What if where you go when you die has an effect on the way you live? Notice, I didn’t ask what if the way you live has an effect on where you go when you die. I said it the other way around. I said it this way because the Bible makes this statement.
In 1 Peter 1, Peter says that those who place their faith in Jesus Christ have been born to a living hope with an inheritance that is stored in Heaven where it is imperishable and undefiled. He says this promise, then, should lead Christians to a life of obedience and holiness. So, a Christian’s belief that they will be in Heaven with Christ at the moment of death should have a great impact on their life.
Two questions come to mind. First, how do you know if you will be in Heaven with Christ when you die? Second, if you believe you will be in Heaven with Christ when you die, are you growing in obedience to His teaching and holy living?
To answer the first question, the Bible is clear that we cannot earn salvation. In Ephesians 2:8-10 we learn that God’s forgiveness and pardon is a gift of God’s grace and cannot be earned. You cannot be good enough or smart enough to earn God’s pardon. Forgiveness from Christ is given when we repent of our sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness and leadership in life. Jesus Christ is able to give this forgiveness because of His perfect life and substitutionary death on the cross. The Gospel is the promise that Christ has taken the punishment we deserve and it is a call for us to repent of our sins and make Him the Lord of our lives. It makes little difference that you grew up in the Bible belt or that you or your family has been in church for a long time. The only true peace with God comes from forgiveness from Jesus Christ.
This salvation should bring more than just the hope of Heaven though. The mercy of Jesus Christ causes Christians to live differently. Christians should turn away from selfishness and pride and be known for their love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. While Christians are not perfect in these areas, there should be real change. Perhaps you believe yourself to be a Christian, but do not see these changes. While the process is a slow one at times, if it is not present perhaps you should examine your basis of salvation. Why not talk today with someone you believe to be a true Christian? It is worth considering as life now and evermore rests upon it.