“I am a kind and good person. I am a faithful rule follower. I go to church. Is that enough to get into Heaven?”
“I don’t think anyone can be sure they are going to Heaven?
“I am not good enough to go to Heaven, but because I believe in Jesus as my Savior, Jesus says that when I die, I will go to Heaven.”
How can I know beyond a doubt that when I die, I will go to Heaven? This question is perhaps one of the most important questions to answer because it is the foundation of Christian theology. Our going to Heaven when we die is solely based on my belief that Jesus died for my sins. It is by believing that we are saved from eternity in Hell.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12,13)
If my relationship with God centers on my trying to be a good person by trying to do things for God, my efforts will leave me lost, frustrated, and exhausted. A religion that requires us to do “good” works to earn our salvation is not what Christianity is about.
A works-centered belief is what cults and pagan religions believe. Good works are meaningless to God when used to gain forgiveness for our sins. Jesus Christ died and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins. It is His gift to all who believe in Him. When we trust Him, God’s Spirit will dwell in us and guide us to do whatever God calls us to do. It is not in our strength or cleverness that we honor God; instead, it is God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that is working through us that pleases God and brings Him glory.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law because by the works of the law, no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6)
Ensuring salvation through Christ alone is critical to those who want to walk with Jesus and obey His command to love God and others. He wants us to disciple others with the truth of Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation to all who believe in Him. God is calling all who believe, through the work of the Holy Spirit, to be His hands and feet to speak truth into a spiritually broken culture!
The research of those who identify as Christians but struggle with salvation by grace is troubling and should alarm all of us to make sure that we share the true gospel of Jesus. The American Worldview Inventory 2020 survey conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that a majority of people who describe themselves as Christian (52%) accept a “works-oriented” means to God’s acceptance. An astounding 63% of adults believe “having faith matters more than the object of one’s faith.” A minority of adults (46%) who describe themselves as “Christian” are looking forward to being in Heaven with Christ when they die because they confess sin and accept Christ as their savior.”
Len Munsil, president of Arizona Christian University, said the “lack of understanding of basic Christian theology is stunning,” with “potentially devastating consequences for individual souls and really for all aspects of American life and culture.”
“It’s a wake-up call for the church, and for leaders in all areas of influence, to speak, teach and work to restore biblical truth,” Munsil said. “Many souls will be lost if people are misled by the false notion that we can earn our way to heaven, rather than recognizing the truth that Christ alone and His righteousness are the basis for our salvation.”
George Barna, director of research for the Cultural Research Center, said Americans are “in an ‘anything goes’ mindset regarding faith, morals, values and lifestyle. Americans appear to be creating unique, highly customized worldviews based on feelings, experiences, and opportunities rather than working within the boundaries of a comprehensive, time-tested, consistent worldview,” he said.
The gospel is clear:
“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:2-5).
It is time for the Church to speak and live out the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God expects us to, most importantly, be known by the way we love and serve others. Yes, we are saved by faith, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, we will honor God by speaking out the gospel’s truth to those who are lost.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2: 8-10).