Can We Know We Are Going to Heaven?
If someone asked you, “Are you going to heaven?” how would you respond? Some might be ready to answer, “Yes,” while others might be less certain. Let’s examine some possible responses people may give to the above question below.
“I am not going to heaven and I am fine with that.”
There are people who realize they are on the path which leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14) and are unconcerned about such. Some people realize they are not right with God and have become such a “hater of God” (Romans 1:30) they really desire to have nothing to do with God. Such people may claim they do not want to spend eternity in heaven with the God described in the Bible. Sadly, if such people do not repent, they will eternally suffer because of their poor decision (Matthew 25:46). A milder version of this response would be the person who recognizes they are lost but are fine with that for the moment but intend to do something about it later. Felix appears to have this sort of response (Acts 24:25). Such a response can sadly lead a person to become comfortable in sin and reach a point where being on a path leading to destruction does not bother them as much as it should and once did.
“I am going to heaven because I am saved and once a person is saved they can never lose their salvation.”
The above attitude may be the thinking of some of our very religious friends and neighbors. They are confident they are going to heaven. However, they fail to take seriously the Bible’s warnings about the potential of missing out on the eternal reward. Here are some passages which indicate saved people are not guaranteed to make it to heaven regardless of how they live after being saved from their past sins. Ezekiel 18:24 says, “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (NKJV; Ezekiel 33:12-13, 18). Paul felt it was possible for him to lose his salvation (1 Corinthians 9:27) and warned those who think they stand to take heed lest they fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Galatians 5:4 makes it plain one is capable of falling from grace. Philippians 2:12 encourages Christians to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (NKJV). 2 John 8 written again to Christians says, “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (NKJV). Many other passages could be included to teach it is possible for saved people to lose their salvation.
“I want to go to heaven but really don’t think there is much possibility I will actually make it there.”
Some Christians, who rightly understand the warnings contained in the Bible regarding the possibility of apostasy, may feel it is impossible for them to confidently say they are going to heaven. God’s word acknowledges it is possible for a Christian to sin and lose their salvation (1 John 1:8-2:2). At the same time God’s word teaches Christians can be confident they are going to heaven. Paul understood the possibility of apostasy but also was confident a crown of life was in store for him when he died (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Paul was confident if he died he would go to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). We ought to have the same type of confidence Paul and other faithful Christians had throughout the New Testament. Let’s not begin to believe it is impossible to know what God expects of us and so we are incapable of knowing whether we are keeping His commandments or not. God has made the truth knowable (1 Timothy 2:4; Ephesians 3:3-5; John 8:31-32). Let’s not begin to believe it is impossible to keep all of God’s commandments because God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). When we recognize it is possible to know God’s will and do it, then there is no reason we cannot know we are going to heaven.
“I am going to heaven because I am resolved to faithfully serve the Lord throughout the remainder of my life.”
Such a response to me balances the awareness of the possibility of apostasy with a confidence we are actually going to make it to heaven. Jesus clearly promises the crown of life to those who are faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). If we remain faithful until death, then we can be certain of obtaining a crown of life because God does not lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:17-20). One example I thought of is to think about the marriage relationship. If an individual is asked, “Will you stay married to your spouse till death do us part?” what would you think about the person who says, “I don’t know because I might divorce them.” We would probably be suspicious of their level of commitment toward their spouse. Would you want to marry someone who gave such an answer? If we can be confident we will remain faithful to a spouse throughout the rest of our life, how much more should we be confident we will be loyal to Christ as a part of His bride, the church (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-32)? Let’s be confident we are going to heaven not because we cannot lose our salvation but because we are committed to serving the Lord faithfully throughout the remainder of our lives!