The purpose of this study is to help us to be sure that we will go to heaven when we die. Jesus said that, unless we are born again, we cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). This means that we need to experience spiritual rebirth if we want to go to heaven. Our first birth takes place when our mother gives birth to us (a physical birth). Our second birth takes place when and if we personally invite Jesus into our lives as our Lord and Saviour. When we do this, He grants us the right to become a child of God, and we are born into God’s family (John 1:11-12). We become an heir of eternal salvation. We call this our spiritual birth.
If we have not been born again, we will have no inner assurance of eternal life; and our eternal destiny will not be heaven, but hell. The Bible says that hell is a place of eternal separation from God, where those who go there will undergo unimaginable torment and suffering (2 Thessalonians 1: 8,9). If, however, we have been spiritually reborn, we will have an inner assurance that we are on your way to heaven. The Bible describes heaven as a wonderful place. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear heard, nor has any heart ever imagined the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
What qualifies us for heaven? The Bible says that “God loved the world so much that He gave up His only Beloved Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it – through Him.” (John 3:16-17). He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us; therefore, each one of us will face the same question when we stand before God one day in eternity: “What did we do with Jesus and His death on the cross for us?” We do not make it to heaven because we are good, nor do we go to hell because we are bad. We go to heaven if we receive by faith the gift of salvation that Jesus purchased for us on the cross.
Let’s see what does NOT qualify us for heaven.
Firstly, we do not go to heaven because we are good people. There are many good people who are not born again. We cannot measure goodness by our human standards. Jesus stated that “there is only One who is good, and that is God” (Matt 19:17). The Bible indicates that our good deeds are like filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). God’s standard of goodness is infinitely higher than ours. If we break only one of the Ten Commandments, we fall short of His goodness. In Romans 3:23 it says that “all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.“
Secondly, we do not go to heaven because we do the things that Christians do. Many people read their Bibles, pray, and go to church, but this does not mean that they are born again. Jesus said, “You must be born again!” For example, we take a fish and throw it into a river, it will swim. That’s what fish do. If we ourselves jump into the river, we may be able to duplicate the fish’s actions and swim. However, this does not make us a fish. To be a fish, we must be born a fish! We are not Christians because we do the things Christians do. We need to be born again by the Spirit of God in order to become a Christian!
Thirdly, we do not go to heaven just because we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Many people believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but not all have been born again. The Bible says that even the devils believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and they tremble (James 2:19). Jesus warns us “that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of His Father, who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21).
Faith in God’s word, the Bible, is the only basis for our salvation. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read that, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Bible is the inspired word of God. Therefore, if we follow the directions in the Bible on how to receive eternal life, then God will keep His word and give us eternal life. He will do what He has promised in the Bible because it is impossible for Him to lie (Heb 6:17-18).
The Bible says that “by grace (undeserved favour) you have been saved through faith. And this salvation is not of your own doing – it is the gift of God! It is not the result of your works or efforts” (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are saved by grace through faith. Grace is what God did for us! He offered us the free gift of salvation. Faith is what we do. We receive by faith the gift of salvation offered to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
There are three requirements needed in order to be born again:
Firstly, we must repent. The Bible says that “godly sorrow produces repentance, which leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance means:
– We must acknowledge that we are sinners who deserves God’s judgment and that we cannot save ourselves.
– We must ask Jesus to forgive us all our sins, and surrender our lives to Him.
– We must turn away from our sins. The Bible says: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13).
Secondly, we must surrender our lives to Jesus and personally invite Him into our hearts to be our personal Lord and Saviour. We read in John 1:12, “To all those who receive Him, He gives the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” If we invite Jesus into our hearts, we must realize who He is – the Son of God! He will not come into your hearts unless we are serious enough to surrender our whole life to Him.
Thirdly, we must confess Him to be our Lord and Saviour. In Romans 10:9 we read, “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.” Furthermore, as we tell others that Jesus is our Lord, and that we believe in Him, we will have greater assurance that we are saved. Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:32).
Evidence that we are truly born again:
There are some importance changes that should take place if we are truly born again and have surrendered our lives to Jesus?
Firstly, we should have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that we are born again. We read in 1 John 5:10: “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…” The Bible also says that “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16). We should therefore become more and more aware of an inner witness that we are saved and an awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 1:22 we read, “God has sealed us, and given us the Holy Spirit as a deposit in our hearts.” Furthermore, we should begin to experience an increased sensitivity to sin causing us to feel very uncomfortable when we do something that is wrong. In John 16:8 we read, “When He (the Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
Secondly, when we invite Jesus into our lives, we become a brand new people. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We should therefore have a new desire to serve and obey God. The Amplified Bible says that “no-one born of God deliberately, knowingly, and habitually practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot practice sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). Furthermore, we should develop a desire to meet and have fellowship with other Christians. We read in 1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren (our fellow Christians.” If we have no desire to go to church or have fellowship with other Christians, it is possible that we are not genuinely born again or saved!
If you have not yet received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and would like to do so, you can pray the following prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I deserve to go to hell. I ask You to forgive me for all my sins and cleanse me from all my unrighteousness. I believe that You died for me and carried my sins on the cross. By faith I receive Your forgiveness and the gift of salvation. I invite you to come and live in my heart as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my whole life to You now. I believe that You rose from the dead, and you are the Son of the Living God. I now confess with my mouth that You are my Lord. I now believe that I am saved, born again, and have received the gift of eternal life in Jesus name. Amen.