The purpose of this study is to help you to be sure that you will go to heaven when you die. Jesus said that, unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3). This means that you need to experience spiritual rebirth if you want to go to heaven. Your first birth takes place when your mother gives birth to you (a physical birth). Your second birth takes place when and if you personally invite Jesus into your life as your Lord and Saviour. When you do this, He grants you the right to become a child of God, and you are born into God’s family (John 1:11,12). You become an heir of eternal salvation. We call this your spiritual birth.
If you have not been born again, you will have no inner assurance of eternal life; and your eternal destiny will not be heaven, but hell. The Bible says that hell is a place of eternal separation from God, where you undergo unimaginable torment and suffering (2 Thess 1: 8,9). If, however, you have been spiritually reborn, you will have an inner assurance that you are on your way to heaven. The Bible describes heaven as a wonderful place. “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” (1 Cor 2:9).
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!” If you take a fish and throw it into a river, it will swim. That’s what fish do. If you yourself jump into the river, you may be able to duplicate the fish’s actions and swim. However, this does not make you a fish. To be a fish, you 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.
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.”(Matt 7:21).
If we want to experience spiritual rebirth, we must believe that the Bible is the word of God. The Bible states that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). 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. It is impossible for Him to lie (Heb 6:17-18).
What quaifies us to go to heaven?
The Bible says that “God loved the world so much that He gave up His 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. Each one of us will face the same question when we stand before God one day in eternity: “What did you do with Jesus and His death on the cross for you?” 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 because we receive by faith the gift of salvation that Jesus purchased for us on the cross.
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). You 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 for being born again:
Firstly, you must repent. The Bible says that “godly sorrow produces repentance, which leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance means: (1) You acknowledge that you are a sinner who deserves God’s judgment and that you cannot save yourself.- (2) You ask Jesus to forgive all your sins, and you surrender your life to Him. (3) You must turn away from any known sin that you are commiting. For example, if someone is having an immoral relationship, they must break off this relationship if they want to be born again! The Bible says: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy” (Pro: 28:13).
Secondly, you must surrender your life to Jesus and personally invite Him into your heart to be your 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 you invite Jesus into your heart, you must realize that He is God, and that He will not come into your heart unless you give Him the first place in your heart.
Thirdly, you must confess Him to be your 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.” Our public acknowlegment of Jesus being our Lord and saviour secures our salvation. It is like signing a marriage certificate. Furthermore, as you tell others about Jesus, you will have greater assurance that you are saved. Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:32).
What difference should it make in your life?
What are some of the changes that you can expect in your life once you have surrendered your life to Jesus?
Firstly, you should have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart that you are born again. The Bible says that “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16). You will become more aware 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, you should begin to experience an increased sensitivity to sin causing you to feel very uncomfortable when you 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 you invite Jesus into your life, you become a brand new person. One of the results of the new birth is a new life. 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). You should have a new desire to serve and obey God. The Amplified Bible says in 1 John 3:9, 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.” Furthermore, you should have a desire to 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.” How do you know that you have passed from death to life? You will love other Christians. If you love someone, you want to be with them!
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.