Mandy was 13 when I met her during a youth rally at a church in Richmond, outside London, in 1978.

After speaking to that group of young people, I spent several minutes alone talking with her about her eternal destiny.

Mandy told me her father, a famous London jazz musician, and her mother, a well-known British actress, were divorced. They never attended church, never talked about God, and didn't even own a Bible.

Mandy said she had never heard about Jesus Christ. But when she learned that Jesus died for her sins on a Roman cross, rose again, and was coming back to take all those who believed in Him to heaven, she prayed with me and invited Jesus into her heart.

As we neared the end of our discussion, I showed her what Jesus says to all believers in John 10:28: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

She said, That's what I've got.

As the months passed, Mandy began to tell others what Jesus Christ had done for her. She told her family and her school friends that she knew for certain she was going to heaven when she died.

Three years later the phone call came. Mandy had gone on a date three days before her 16th birthday, the voice on the other end told me. It had begun to drizzle and the car swerved out of control and crashed. Mandy's date was thrown clear of the convertible and was uninjured.

But Mandy died instantly.

Mandy's parents asked me to give the sermon at her funeral service because they said, Mandy talked about nothing more than Jesus, Luis Palau, and going to heaven.

On the day of the funeral, the church was filled with famous personalities, all of whom had a view of the casket that contained Mandy's body.

Ladies and gentlemen, I said to these famous people, what you see in the casket is not Mandy. It is Mandy's body, but the real Mandy is not here. Mandy is in heaven with Jesus Christ because the Bible says, Away from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Then I said to them, We're going to bury Mandy's body this afternoon. But the Bible says that the body is just the house of the soul and spiritthe essence of who we really are. Because Mandy had eternal life, she went straight to heaven when she died. Although her body will stay here, her soul and spirit went immediately to be with the Lord.

Mandy was prepared for her trip into eternity. Are you? Our journey on earth may last 70, 80, or 90 years, or it may end without warning. We've got to be ready!

Suppose you were to die tonight and, upon arriving at the gate of heaven, the Lord asked you, What right do you have to enter my heaven?

Perhaps your answer would be, I confess I'm not perfect. I've mistreated lots of people, as well as myself. But I've done some good as well, Lord. Doesn't that count for something?

Or maybe you would answer, Lord, I wasn't too bad. I didn't murder anyone or cheat on my spouse. My children didn't end up in jail, and I was promoted to vice president of my company because of my honesty and hard work.

Either way, the Lord would have to answer, Good works are not enough. No one who is impure in any way can enter here. The only way God will allow us into heaven is if we accept the forgiveness He has provided for us through His Son, Jesus Christlike Mandy did.

Jesus paid for our sins by His blood given on the cross, and we can live eternally with Him in heaven because He conquered death. God loves us so much He sacrificed His own Son so we could live with Him forever. But you must respond, you must make a choice. That's the secret of the whole message. You must confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Then you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Have your sins been forgiven? Or maybe you think you can get to heaven on your own? Even the good works you have done will never be good enough. The Bible says, All our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). They are useless to save your soul and get you to heaven. God wants us to do good works, but not because they will save us.

Unless you have Christ in your heart as your Savior, you do not have eternal life. You may do many good thingsattend church, give money to the poor, even read the Biblebut that will not get you into heaven.

God says we cannot earn a place in heaven. Eternal life is a gift He gives us when we trust in Christ. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Are you ready to accept His gift of eternal life in heaven? If you make that choice, the Bible teaches Jesus Christ will come into your heart, you will become a child of God, your sins will be forgiven, and you will be spotless in the eyes of the holy God. He will say to you, Welcome! Welcome to My family! I have a house ready for you in heaven, and you will live with Me for eternity.

How do you trust Him? How can you express that inner choice? By praying a simple prayer of faith, like this one:

Thank You, Father, for preparing a place for me in Your heavenly home. Thank You that Jesus Christ died on the cross and took away all my shame and guilt, and forgave all my past, present and future sins through His blood on the cross. Thank You most of all that Jesus rose from the dead. I believe Jesus is alive today and is reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. I confess my failure and sins to you. I renounce my evil deeds. Come into my heart, wash me from all my sins, fill me with the Holy Spirit, and make me Your child. I will serve You for the rest of my life until You take me home to heaven and I see You face to face. I will bow before You in heaven as I bow right now here on earth.

Copyright 2001 Luis Palau All Rights Reserved.