first slide

Salvation

The First Southern Baptist Church is located in Ava, Missouri. We are an autonomous body of believers in the Christian faith, following the teachings of God our Father contained in the Holy Bible. We ascribe to the Lordship of Jesus Christ His Son, and are guided by the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The following is an article discussing the essentials of salvation: How a person can know for sure that they will go to Heaven.

How Can I know for Sure That When I Die, I will Go To Heaven?

The following presents some important questions that need to be asked and answered for those who are pondering the title of this article. However, if you don’t need or want to read all of this and just want to get right to the answer to this question, then skip down to the heading that says, “How Can I Know for Sure That When I Die, I Will Go To Heaven?”, or, just click the link to the left in quotations. All Bible version acronyms used in this article are referenced at the end of the this article. One other note of convenience: Whenever you see text with a dotted underline,This example note is appearing because you placed your cursor over the text. place your cursor over the text to reveal the Bible scripture being referenced.


Simple, But Real Questions:


Everyone asks questions at some point in their lives like, “How do I know there is a real God?” or, “How do I know the Bible is really and truly from God?” As a starting point, I think it is also fair to ask, “Why do we ask these questions?” Is it because of a guilt complex that our social circles or parents placed on us as we were growing up? And, why do we all seem to have an inner feeling of knowing right and wrong? When we do something good, why do we get this feeling in our heart that makes us feel good, but when we do something wrong, perhaps we feel guilty for what we said or did? Everyone has contemplated these important questions and frankly, a large part of the answers to these questions has to do with the way God created us.


Is There a God?


With regard to the moral views throughout the world, there are generally two types of people upon this earth:


(1) Those that do not want there to be a God, because perhaps it would mean we are all ultimately accountable to God for our moral behavior. It would mean that we would have to follow God’s rules, and if we break His rules we have to face the consequences. This type of person seems to find more freedom without a God: no rules, no accountability, and no consequences. Let me preface this next statement by saying that many of us were once in this first category of people who do not want to believe that there is a God. But the people in this category (including myself years ago) dismiss the idea of God out of convenience. If a person can erase God out of existence in their mind (as much as possible), then they can carry on in life without feeling guilty for anything they do or say for the most part. No guilty feelings for things like, telling little white lies, cheating on your income tax, flipping off the person that just cut you off on the freeway, or the person that cut in front of you at the supermarket check-out counter with a huge basket of groceries, and you only have a few items in your cart; how dare them! Right?


(2) The other type of person may not know for sure if there is a God, but deep down in their heart of hearts, they feel there is. At certain times in their life, strange or mysterious things have happened in their favor that go beyond coincidence. Sometimes a person might feel an indescribable or overwhelming presence of God that makes them feel very warm and peaceful inside. They might get a very real feeling that everything is going to be alright and they no longer need to worry about the outcome of something that’s been troubling them in their mind. Morally speaking, this type of person tries to do the right thing and be kind to others because deep down, they want to please God even if they aren’t sure of who He is. But this group of people seem to spoil it for the other group because it seems they try to impose their so-called “morals” and accountability on the first group who don’t want a God.


Consider this: If a person goes out in the country and looks around them, gazing at the trees and flowers, the mountains, the sky, the daytime sun, and the stars and moon at night… it is inevitable to ask, “Where did all this come from? Where did I come from? How did I get here?” None of us can escape these questions. They are the oldest questions that have perplexed the minds of mankind from the very beginning. The people in group No. (1) would answer these by saying, “In the beginning, there was nothing. And then nothing exploded in a big bang and the universe was formed: all the stars and planets and everything as we know it became our universe." This may sound a little sarcastic but, whatever exploded in the beginning had to come from somewhere, right? That part of the answer gets conveniently left out of their explanation.


The people in group No. (2) might answer these questions of where we came from by saying, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” The people in group No. (2) feel that all things exist by creation, not explosion. And if everything came into being by creation rather than explosion, then “creation” by definition requires a Creator. That is common sense. If this begins to make any sense, then it also makes sense that a Creator would design things before He creates them. And if you think about it, all living matter that we see on our planet seems to have a certain design and organization to it; at least until it begins deteriorating (entropy, or the 2nd law of thermodynamics). When we look for signs of life on other planets, people in both groups look for characteristics and appearances that seem to have been designed by someone or something. Why? Because on our own planet, we humans also create all our own things: cities, highways, cars, buildings, equipment, computers, electronics… all created by man. We’ll come back to that thought in a moment…


If There is a God, How Do We Know What He Thinks or Expects From His Creation?


The Bible is one of the oldest books known to mankind that has withstood the test of time and has been translated into more languages than any other book on the planet. The Bible is not only claimed to be written by godly men, but a more accurate statement would be, “Godly men wrote down the very words that God instructed them to write in a collection of books that we now call, ‘The Bible’ or ‘The Word of God.’” The Bible tells the story of God’s creation, the history of mankind, and God’s ultimate plan for both of these. The Bible is divided into two main sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament does not supersede the Old Testament or replace it as the, "new and improved version," but rather is the fulfillment of all the prophecies contained in the Old Testament. The Bible is the most quoted book throughout the history of mankind; it contains laws, morals, and principles to live by. It contains a record of how God brought His ultimate plan into being. The laws and governing principles of every nation in the world have taken many of their most basic and fundamental elements from the Bible. And yet, there are some who say you cannot legislate morality. To the contrary, every law in every nation written by man began as a moral viewpoint or thought. So it would seem that mankind has accepted the Bible in many ways, but has chosen to ignore its origin so that the existence of God can also be ignored.


How Do We Know the Bible Came From God?


There is only one way to know the answer to this question for sure. Anyone can (and many have) claim that a book or certain writings are from God. But if there is such a thing as a Creator God who is full of wisdom and truth, who is all powerful to create, all-knowing with a complete knowledge of the past, present and future, then that God can do something that no man or book writer on this planet can do: The true God can describe in detail the things that will happen in the future, before they happen. And not just once or twice, but over and over and over again, many hundreds of times. And if He is wrong even once, then you would be forced to say that the rest of the predictions were just lucky guesses. This would disqualify that person or being as having the rightful title of "God" or as being divine in any way. The Bible contains thousands of prophesies about the future before they every occurred; and not just generalities that easily fit into some future event, like many so-called prophets, fortune tellers, psychics, palm readers, or tarot card readers often do. The Bible tells specifics about people, times, nations, circumstances, the outcome of wars, details of lives and deaths, and their fulfillments at a later date in history. Not one Biblical prophecy has ever been determined to be wrong or inaccurate. Many hundreds have been fulfilled, and hundreds more are being fulfilled even in this day and age that we live in.


A full discussion of all the Biblical prophecies and their fulfillment is quiet a lengthy presentation, and is not presented here in order to stay on the main topic. However as an example of Biblical prophecy and fulfillment, it is very interesting to note that there are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah whom God would send into this world as the Savior of humanity. All were fulfilled exactly in every detail by the person of Jesus Christ. Many more are yet to be fulfilled about His second coming.


God has made it very easy to vet the words in the Bible, test the truthfulness of Bible scriptures, and prove their prophetic fulfillments with astonishing accuracy and precision, resulting in an overwhelming confidence in the Bible’s supernatural origin. There are a number of other books out there that have also been able to partially predict some things that occurred at a later date in history, but none with 100% accuracy, and none with a consistent, unfailing record. All others have been proven wrong in many places, or only partially correct. But an all-knowing God would never be wrong, or even approximate in any of His writings. If He were ever wrong, He would not be God. The Holy Bible meets these tests of authenticity as God’s words and has withstood centuries and millennia of intense scrutiny.


Designs Must Have a Designer, Creations Must Have a Creator.


Earlier, a statement was made about all the creations of man on our planet, and that each was properly designed beforehand. We don’t get our fine automobiles, computers, smartphones, and other material things as a result of some random explosion where everything accidentally landed in some logical order. No, they were designed by someone or by some team of engineers, and then created or built at a factory of some kind. So consider this: if the Bible is in fact the words of God and contains wisdom and truth, then the God of the Bible says the following about the humans when He created them to inhabit this earth:


“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27 (NASB)


When the above passage says that God created us in His own image, it doesn’t mean that we physically look like God, for God is Spirit, and is worshipped in spirit and truth (John 4:24"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."    -NKJV). What it means is that God made each of us with a sense of creativity, abilities to design things, and then create them with our own hands and ingenuity. This demonstrates very simplistic evidence that there is a Creator God, and that we are like Him in a creative way because we were created in His own image. And, the same pattern follows even with our own offspring: We procreate and our children who are like us in many ways, and yet each one is uniquely different. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that there is a Creator God, and that we are created in His own image.


God also created us with an innate sense of right and wrong when He created us in His own image. He clearly knows right from wrong, therefore we too have those innermost feelings to naturally know what is right and what is wrong. And even though we have the natural ability to know right from wrong, we often make the wrong choices to suit our own selfish needs. Our selfishness often results in strife among mankind, strife that displeases God.


What is God’s Ultimate Plan for the Inhabitants of This World?


Earlier, we painted a picture of two groups of people's moral viewpoints, generally speaking: Those that don't want a God in the first group, and those who do in the second group. And for discussion purposes let's place those that aren't sure if there is a God but feel there might be, in the second group. It may be surprising to know that the people in both of these two groups start out having the same ultimate destiny in the afterlife: Both groups of people are destined to spend eternity apart from God because of sin, for all have sinned and no one is perfect. It is also important to understand that God has not written off the people in the first group who do not believe in God, nor has He totally disqualified them from having any chance of going to heaven. The reality is that people in both groups are less than perfect. But people can change, and do change when they find that after trying to run their own show, things aren't working out very well... they are not happy with life and maybe have hurt others, even those who are important to them. We've all messed things up in life, and perhaps we've done things we are not proud of at all. We've all been there. But God forgives those who come to Him and ask forgiveness.


Ahh, but then there are those who say, "God can't forgive me. I've done things that are so bad and are completely unforgiveable." Keep reading and you'll discover that the God of the Bible CAN, and WILL forgive you, even if you've committed the vilest of sins many times over. If you're feeling even the slightest bit of remorse for your past, that is your hint God is tugging at your heart to tell you He loves you, in spite of all your sins. He doesn't love the bad things you do, but He loves you because He designed you, and He created all mankind with a freewill to choose.


From the very beginning our all-knowing Creator knew that because of the freewill He created in us, the human race would choose sin and evil over righteousness and good. Yet, if He had not allowed freewill, but instead forced everyone to always do good, then all of us would be mere robots or puppets on a string. The same is true when each of us try to find a mate, our one true love, someone to spend the rest of our lives with. So, think of it in this way... If we were able to force someone to love us, it would not be true love. It would be an empty, unfulfilling form of bondage or slavery. "True love" coming from a person who has the freedom to choose is truly beautiful because we then know deep down that our mate could have chosen someone else, but chose us. This makes us feel truly loved. Likewise, God created humans with freewill so that our love for Him would be unforced, true love. But ultimately, generation after generation has not chosen God. The human race has chosen sin and evil over love for God and commitment to God. None of us are innocent of our rejection of God. It is universally inherent in all the human beings throughout history, with one exception: One person called The Messiah, The Christ, The only begotten Son of God…


Most people think that the way God chooses those who will enter into His Heavenly Kingdom, is that He judges each person on a scale, allowing each one’s good deeds to be weighed against their bad deeds... an whichever way the scale tips determines the destiny of that person: Heaven or Hell. However, this is not at all the way God makes His choices according to what God tells us in the Bible. Consider what God has said about how He expects us to conduct ourselves throughout our lives:


“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 (NASB)


Who can live up to this standard? Are you perfect… never having sinned in any thought, word, or deed throughout your entire life? That’s the requirement to be counted worthy of God’s Kingdom of Heaven. But wait a minute… why would a loving God be so strict and so demanding in such an impossible way? Well, God IS a loving God, but at the same time He is also a "Just" God, meaning that He cannot let sin go without accountability and punishment. Think about how it would be in our world if we were to let people freely break the laws of our governments and go unpunished without any accountability. Think of all the crime that would escalate throughout the world… Likewise, a God who is perfect in all respects, understandably demands perfection from those who desire to spend eternity with Him. But what if you are a pretty good person, and although you may not be perfect in every respect, maybe you consider yourself almost perfect, and only sin on rare occasions. Consider the following example of something that is almost, but not quiet completely perfect:


Let’s say that you decide to have your family over for breakfast one morning, and that you will make egg omelets for everyone. So you open the fridge and pull out a dozen eggs and start cracking them into a mixing bowl. But after cracking the very last egg into the bowl, you realize as you’re stirring it, something is very foul: that last egg was rotten and you've already stirred it in with the other eleven good eggs… but ohhh the smell. So what are you to do? Can you stir it up real good and serve it to your family anyway, hoping no one notices? Not unless you want to cause everyone to become sick with food poisoning. But it was just one rotten egg that spoiled the whole breakfast… This is how only a few sins in our life spoil everything, and a perfect God can have no part of us, even with just a few imperfections. By this description of God, it seems like He has created a world where no one can win and everyone is on their way to Hell.


But now here’s an even bigger discovery that God has revealed about Himself: God has known all about our sin and our poor choices from the beginning, even before any of us were born. He always knew the tendency of humans would be towards sin. Nonetheless, God has had an ultimate plan in place all along to remedy the predicament that we humans find ourselves in: He would send a Messiah, a Savior, His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.


Who and What is this Historical Person of Jesus the Christ?


Some have wondered, “How do we even know Jesus Christ existed?” As un-biased proof, there are more references outside the Bible to the historical existence of Jesus Christ than any other person in history making His life and ministry extremely hard to refute. These non-Biblical references include Jewish writers, who do not believe (at the time of this writing) that Jesus Christ was their messiah. Yet many Jewish rabbinical writings confirm His ministry in Israel and Galilee. The Muslim's Quran claims that Jesus was a prophet who lived upon this earth and had a miraculous ministry, but was not the Son of God. Many secular historians during and immediately after the time period when Jesus walked the earth verify and document Him as an authentic part of history. He indeed was a real person of flesh and blood, and His ministry was truly miraculous. But it is quite naive and inaccurate to simply say that Jesus Christ was a prophet and a good man. In the Bible, Jesus spoke much about His identity and purporse upon this Earth. He identified Himself to be the Messiah or Christ"The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming,' who is called Christ, 'When He comes, He will tell us all things.' Jesus said to her, 'I who speak to you am He.' " John 4:25-26    -NKJV, and the Son of God"He [Jesus] said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 16:15-17    -NKJV, which would make Him equal with the One, True, Living God."[Jesus speaking] 'I and My Father are one.' Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, 'Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?' The Jews answered Him, saying, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.' " John 10:30-33    -NKJV. If Jesus affirmed this in the historical records of the Bible, this leaves us to believe only one choice out of three possibilities: (1) Either He was a LUNATIC because He is none of what he claimed to be, but thought He was; or (2) He was a LIAR because He is none of what he claimed to be and knew that He wasn't; or (3) He is the LORD God because He spoke the truth.


God first revealed who Jesus Christ is all the way back in the first book of the Bible in the fifteenth verse of the third chapter (Genesis 3:15"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."    -NKJV). God would send His very own Son into this world to show us the Way, the Truth, and the Life"Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.' "
John 14:16    -NKJV
. The Way that leads to everlasting Life in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, and the Truth that dispels all the confusion this world has to offer. But it gets even better… God doesn’t make us go through life wondering what our destiny will be. He allows us to have the assurance right now that when we die, we will indeed spend eternity with Him. And every person can know this not only immediately, but with confidence, and peace in our hearts because that is what the Holy Spirit does for you: He is your Comforter"[Jesus Speaking] But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you."
John 14:26    -AMP
. So that brings us to the main question that was asked in the title of this article:


How Can I Know for Sure That When I Die, I Will Go To Heaven?


The Bible says this about the predicament of all mankind:


“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23 (KJV)


We have all sinned. We have all done things that have displeased God. No one is innocent. Romans 1:29-32"being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them."    -NKJV and Romans 3:10-18As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes."    -NKJV also give descriptions of what sin looks like in our lives. And because of the sin in our lives, the Bible says the following:


“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NKJV)


Just as criminals are punished for breaking the law and are sent to jail, God punishes those who break His laws. But notice the second half of verse 23… it says that God has given you a Gift and this Gift is in His Son, Jesus Christ:


“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV)


When it says that Christ died for us, it means He died for you personally… it means that instead of you being punished for your sins, God wipes them completely away as if you never committed them because of what Jesus Christ paid when He was crucified on the cross; He paid for your sins with His life! Your sins are washed completely clean from your past, your present, and your future when you begin to believe…


“… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV)


Being “saved” and “salvation” are words that the Bible uses to describe how we no longer face the consequences of sin when we believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. And when you do believe, God makes the following promise to you:


“For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 (NKJV)


Calling on the name of the LORD means to believe that He is real and you desire to trust in Him to save you from your sins. The Bible declares that the name of the LORD is Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. In Isaiah 7:14, the Bible refers to Jesus as “Immanuel” (pronounced, e-MAN'-u-el) which means in the Hebrew language, “God with us.” God also gives us many assurances so that when you become saved, you can know for sure that you will not go to Hell, and that you will definitely go to Heaven:


“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Romans 5:1 (NKJV)


“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 (KJV)


“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)


And finally, the Bible gives you the assurance that if you die, you will go to Heaven and have confidence because it is God’s promise to you:


“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13 (NKJV) -emphasis added.


Notice in the verse above it says, “that you may know that you have eternal life”. The two most important words in that verse are, "know" and "have". God wants you to KNOW this is true, not hope, or wish, or think it might be true. And, God wants you to know that you HAVE eternal life now, not later on after you live a good life and prove yourself worthy. This Bible verse (which is God's promise to you) is not only telling you that you will spend eternity in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, but also that it is past-tense, meaning that you have eternal life already when you start believing (and continue to believe) in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. If you would like to have this assurance now so that you can know that you are going to Heaven, you must ask God and tell Him how you feel. When you talk to God, it is called praying. If you want to talk to God now, you can pray this prayer out loud and God will hear you:


“Dear God, I know that I have sinned and I am far from being perfect. I deserve punishment, but I want to ask Your forgiveness. I have considered what You said in the Bible, how Jesus Christ died for my sins and that You are willing to remove them all from my record: past, present, and future. I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died on the cross, that He rose from the dead, and is now living in Heaven at Your right hand. I am putting my faith and trust in Jesus so that my sins are now forgiven. Please give me the gift of eternal life in Your Heavenly Kingdom. I believe by faith that You are washing me clean of all my sins and forgiving me this very moment. Please come into my heart and be my Lord, be my Savior, and guide me through the rest of my life by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You dear God for Your wonderful gift of forgiveness and eternal life. I ask these things in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.”


If you just prayed that prayer and meant it in your heart, WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF GOD! The angels in Heaven are having a joyful party because of your decision (read Luke 15:10"Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."    -NKJV ).


Now there are a few additional things you need to do if you prayed that prayer: First, go tell three people what you just did, anybody. Tell them how you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, because in the Bible, Jesus said this:


“Everyone therefore who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 (HNV)


Next, you should get a copy of the Bible and start reading it. If you don’t have one or can’t afford one, email us and we will send you one for free. Start reading the Gospel of John first, and then the book of Romans which are both in the New Testament. Then you can read Genesis, the first book of the Bible in the Old Testament. If you have questions, you can email us and we will try to help you.


The next thing you need to do is find a good Christian church that teaches the Bible so that you can begin to understand God’s word. If you need help with this we can help you find a good church if you email us, but start going right away, don’t allow yourself to put this off because the enemy (Satan) will make every attempt to help you find excuses not to go.


And lastly, start talking to God regularly throughout each day. You don’t need to use fancy words, just talk to Him from your heart and know that He is listening. Remember that the God’s Holy Spirit is with you always wherever you go and whatever you do. He knows what you are thinking, so let Him guide you and guide your thoughts.


Please contact us and let us know if you have become a member of God’s forever family. If you have made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, we welcome you to the family of God!


___________________________________________

Notes:

KJV = King James Version of the Bible (1611 ed.).

NASB = New American Standard Bible version (1995 ed.).

NKJV = New King James Version of the Bible (1982 ed.).

HNV = Hebrew Names Version of the Bible (2008 ed.).

AMP = Amplified version of the Bible (1987 ed.).