A Road Guide to Heaven
When you want to go to a place you’ve never been before, what do you do? You ask for directions from someone who knows where the place is, check a map, or use your smartphone. You don’t just make a guess!
People who want to get to Florida don’t simply get in the car and start driving, hoping the road will somehow get them there. They chart their course in advance, rather than waiting until they arrive at the wrong destination or discover they’ve spent three days driving the wrong direction. If you want to get somewhere, guesswork is a poor strategy. The goal of getting to Heaven is worthy of greater advanced planning than we’d give to any other journey.
Want to be sure you’re going to Heaven? Let these verses from the Bible’s book of Romans be your guide:
1. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23).
All of us have messed up or done wrong things. We may say, “But I didn’t mean to!” or just call them failures or mistakes or “my bads.” But the Bible calls them by a three-letter word: sin. To sin means to break any of God’s rules against lying, cheating, stealing, or anything else. God is the only perfect model for us to follow, and He never sins. That means we can never come near His wonderful, glorious standard—not on our own, that is. However, God not only sets the standard but also provides a way for us to meet His standard. Read on. (Warning: The news gets worse before it gets better. But if you read it all, it’ll make sense, and should make you happy.)
2. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Everyone receives a payment for sin. It’s a salary that we earn, but it’s not something we might look forward to, like cash or a check. Because Adam and Eve chose to follow Satan’s advice in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), all people are born with the desire to go their own way instead of God’s. This means we’re sinners, and the result of our sin is death. Spiritual death is separation from God in a very real place called Hell.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that God has a free gift waiting for us. That free gift is just the opposite of the wages that our sins have earned. It’s a gift that will last forever: eternal life.
Right after death, God’s people will enjoy life in the present Heaven. That will be followed by Christ’s return and eventually life on the New Earth, where God will dwell with us forever. New Earth will be at the center of the eternal Heaven. This never-ending life will be fun, exciting, thrilling, and more amazing than anything you’ve ever experienced. To see God and worship Him and walk the New Earth with Jesus and the people we love . . . wow!
Why does God offer such an unbelievable gift? Keep on reading. (From now on, the news just gets better and better.)
3. God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
God created people because He is a God of love, and He wanted us to love Him back. But the bad things we think and do separate us from God. Because we’ve all blown it, we can’t get into Heaven as we are. All along, though, God had a plan to help us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us. Jesus, who never did anything wrong, was the perfect choice.
When He was crucified, Jesus took upon Himself a punishment He didn’t deserve so we could live forever in the Heaven we don’t deserve. God makes it possible for all people—all who have sinned—to live with Him. It’s a great gift; but to have any benefit from it, you have to open it—just like if a UPS package arrives at your front door but you don’t open it, you’ll never experience the pleasure the gift inside might have given you.
So what’s your part in all of this? How do you receive God’s gift to you?
4. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved (Romans 10:9-10).
Confess with your mouth. Confess is a little word that leads to big results. To confess something means to admit it. To confess that Jesus is Lord is to admit that He is God and that you want Him (not your sins) to be the Lord—the Ruler—of your life, now and forever.
What do you need to believe? That Jesus, the Son of God, died and came back to life. But believing isn’t just agreeing that something is true. After all, even Satan and the demons know that Jesus died and came back to life. In the Bible, the word belief involves trust. It’s a belief that leads to a choice. We choose to depend on Jesus and follow Him, seeking to do what He tells us to do.
Believe in your heart. If you believe with all your heart that Jesus really died for you and rose again, you’ll be “made right with God.” When you trust in Jesus, you no longer fall short of the standard God expects. God doesn’t see your sins anymore. He just sees His perfect Son, Jesus, in front of you. God knows you are following Jesus, and someday He’ll have a home ready for you in Heaven.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20, NIV). That’s a reference to being in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Can you think of anything that could give us greater joy than that?
Jesus also said, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7, NIV). Repenting involves saying we were wrong and that we’re sorry, and asking God’s forgiveness. Jesus is saying that whenever someone repents and turns to God, there’s a party in Heaven with a lot of celebrating!
Have those in Heaven been able to celebrate yet because you’ve repented of your sin and trusted Christ to save you? Or are they still waiting for you to do that? You can admit right now that you’ve done wrong things and ask God to forgive you.
Remember, we were all made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. You don’t have to wonder whether you’re going to Heaven. You can know that today.
photo credit: Justin Luebke via Unsplash