Many people think it is a mistake to become a Christian because they believe to be a Christian means that a person is giving up a lot of “good” things (usually this means giving up things like drinking, promiscuous sex, partying). Believers do know that true Christianity means saying No to the old way of living (Titus 2:12). From a sinful world’s perspective, Christians give up a lot and are taking a chance that there is a heaven to gain and that Jesus is the admission ticket. The thought occurs that they could be mistaken and miss out on the sensuality and selfishness that is part of the sinful world. Christians want to know that they are doing the right thing, that they are embracing truth. Will their decision for Christ result in gaining heaven when they die? We confidently affirm, “Yes, yes, yes.” (2 Corinthians 1:19)
There are a couple of very good reasons why you can be sure you’ll go to heaven if you have trusted Christ to forgive you of your sins. The first reason is that God, who is trustworthy, promised it so. The New Testament is filled with glimpses of the future that God has guaranteed to those who trust Christ.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3
1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
The second reason for assurance of heaven is that God has given us a down payment to guarantee his promise of the future. That earnest deposit is the Holy Spirit who lives inside every Christian and testifies of God’s love for us. The peace that God gives us now is only a tiny deposit of what awaits us in glory. It is a foretaste, a sampling of the richness and sweetness that lies ahead.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5: For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22: Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
You know you are going to heaven when you die, if you experience a little bit of heaven while you are still alive. As Christian, we are enjoying a heavenly relationship with our Father through Jesus the Son. The presence of the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26; I John 3:1).
If you are lacking assurance about your eternal destiny, there are three possibilities: First, you may not be a Christian. So you cannot expect the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. The solution is simple: repent and believe the Gospel. Second, if you trusted Christ but do not understand what God has promised in His Word, you are bound to waffle in your assurance. So study the Word and get a grip on God’s perspective of who you are in Christ (2 Timothy 3:16). Third, if you are not living consistently with God’s Word and are compromising with sin, the assurance of the Holy Spirit disappears and is replaced by a steady and firm conviction of His displeasure. You have not lost your salvation, but you have fallen out of fellowship with Him and the assuring presence of His Spirit has waned (Ephesians 4:30). Return to the Father’s love, walk in the light as He is in the light. Ask His forgiveness (I John 1:7-9) and receive the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to grow in knowledge of Christ and walk in maturity (Ephesians 1:17)
Knowing you are going to heaven depends on the One you trust. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be confident that God has performed the necessary work to gain our entrance into His presence. As you “work out your salvation”, remember that it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). Stay close to Him.