What If You Died Tonight?
Heaven forbid, but suppose you died today and St. Peter met you at Heaven’s gates and asked a question. The gates of Heaven would only swing open and welcome you if you had the right answer. The question is this:
Why should you be allowed into God’s Heaven?
Would you say:
- Because I am a good person, or
- Because my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, or
- Because I helped people, or
- I wasn’t that bad, or
- I don’t know?
None of these answers will swing open Heaven’s gates to paradise. The bible teaches that there is only one right answer that will gain entry into Heaven. The right answer is this: Because I have placed my faith in Christ (to say it another way, because I have believed in Christ). See Mark 16:16, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:10 and Ephesians 2:8 & 9.
What does it mean to believe in Jesus, to have faith in Jesus Christ? There are four aspects to saving faith, the kind of faith that will swing open the gates of heaven. Your faith must have all four:
- Believe the facts of the gospel. This is the starting point. You must accept that Jesus was God in the flesh, that he died on the cross for your sins, and that his body was resurrected from the grave by the power of God. In a nutshell, these are the facts you must accept as true. But, you can believe every fact of the gospel and not be saved.
In the bible, James writes: "Do you still think it is enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this and they tremble in terror. Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless." (James 2: 19,20 NLT) While cognitive belief in God is the starting point, you can see that that alone is not enough to save anyone. Faith is more involved than that. This basic rudimentary level of faith is even shared by demons, but they will not be going to Heaven. Faith is much more than intellectual acceptance of the facts. There are three more aspects to faith.
- Trust in Christ. There are many religions, many claims to Heaven and even many false gods. But there is only one real God and there is only one way to Heaven, the way revealed by God. Christians believe that Jesus is the only way to God. That sounds politically incorrect in our pluralistic society, but it is the non-negotiable teaching of the bible.
Acts 4:12 reads: "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (NASB). Real faith trusts Jesus as the only way to open up the gates of heaven. It is also trust that Jesus has the power and authority to get us there.
- Commitment to Christ. The third aspect of faith is commitment to the person of Christ and to his teachings. Just as a man pledges to be faithful to his wife on his wedding day, when a person has faith he/she is making a commitment to be faithful to the person of Christ. It is also a commitment to live by the teachings of Christ. Real biblical faith involves living for Jesus. Consider these thoughts from the bible:
A decision. Real faith brings a person to a crisis moment, a moment where one has to accept or reject Jesus. Faith helps us realize that we do not have Jesus in our life and that we need him there. Since he is the only way to heaven, we have to have him in our life. He is not part of our life until we make the decision to invite him in. Have you made that decision? Do you have real faith, a faith that includes all four aspects? Are you not sure?
- In the gospels, Jesus not only called people to place their faith in him, but he also called them to repent. Repentance is changing your mind about sin. It is turning from a life dominated by self and sin to a new life, living for God.
- Hebrews 5: 9 tells us that Jesus became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation (NASB). The stress here is that Christians must be obedient. It is not an option. Faith produces obedience to Christ.
- James 2: 14 - 26 teaches that real faith, the kind that gets us to Heaven will produce good works or good deeds. In other words, you cannot have faith without living by Jesus' teaching.
- The bible teaches much more about how faith is connected to obedience and good works, but this will suffice to show that real faith must be accompanied by a commitment to live for Jesus. This is why we must be born-again. To be born-again means to be changed by God on the inside. Then change is so radical that the bible likens it to a new birth. Christians are born-again in order to be obedient to Christ.
- You can be sure. If your desire is to be a Christian and you are willing to commit to him and live for him, would you say this prayer? The prayer only works if you truly mean it. The prayer has no power in itself, but the condition of your heart does. If in your heart, you sincerely desire to give Jesus your life, then pray this prayer:
I have lived my life for myself;
I have sinned against you and I am sorry,
I am sorry for pushing you out of my life -
Please forgive me for this.
Please come into my life, and change me.
Please help me live for you every day.
This very moment, I commit my life to you.
Thank you for saving me. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer and meant it and are now serious about serving the Lord, would you please contact me, Pastor Brandon Gilreath . I want to help you find some resources for your journey. I want to encourage you in your faith. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In His name,