Intersection of Life and Faith

How Do I Know If I’ll Go to Heaven?

  • Anne Peterson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 13 Aug
sun bursting through clouds looking like heaven 1200 x 627

There are so many issues causing uncertainties these days...disease, shortages, conflicts, economic challenges, and more. With all that we face each day, it’s good to have some things we can count on.

But what if as believers, we have uncertainties about where we’ll go one day when we die? What if we’re not sure we’ll go to heaven?

I was one of those people years ago. God led me to a Bible study where all my questions were answered. And now I don’t think I may go to heaven, I don’t hope I’ll go to heaven, but I know I’m going to heaven.

And I can’t keep that kind of news to myself.

Born Sinners

When I met Lois Peterson at a Bible study she taught in her home, I was struck by how she talked about Jesus. It was as if she knew him personally. I had been brought up in a religion and was taught if you wanted to go to heaven it was a matter of do’s and don’ts. There was a long list.

But when I started to learn what the Bible taught, my eyes were opened. The Bible said that God is Holy and without sin. When God created man with free will, the ability to choose. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were banished from the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24). After that, anyone born of this world was born a sinner (Romans 5:12, Romans 3:23).

We cannot go to heaven as sinners—God is holy and just. So God made an access for us to heaven (John 3:16). God did this because he loves us.

closeup of John 3-16 in an open BiblePhoto Credit: ©Sparrowstock

Salvation Is a Gift

It was hard for me when I realized all the things I had been doing on my to-do list were getting me nowhere. I had been trusting in the works I had done. Things like going to church, trying to be a good person, etc.

Instead, I learned that going to heaven was something God provided. It is by God’s grace and we accept it through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If salvation could be earned then we would always be able to boast about what we did to earn it. You don’t work for gifts. If you do, they are no longer gifts.

Our Works Are Rags

I still remember listening to that Bible teacher on that first night. When she said what we did trying to get to heaven didn’t help, I started feeling uneasy inside. And I hate to admit it, but I remember thinking that very moment, Maybe she needed a Savior but I was doing just fine.

And then Lois read me a verse that said our righteousness was as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It was that verse that made me uncomfortable. I had been counting on the things I was doing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was trying to work my way into heaven. After all, I reasoned, I had never killed anyone. I went to church, I tried following the 10 commandments. Didn’t that count for anything?

What about Our Sin?

I learned that God is holy and just. Even the best we could give God is still tainted with sin because we are born sinners.

In the Old Testament, God told the people to take a lamb which was considered a clean animal. They were to kill the lamb and put the lamb’s blood on the doorpost of their houses. When the death angel would pass over the houses, if there was blood on their door posts, those inside were covered by that blood. God said, “Without the shedding of blood, there was no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

And God provided a lamb for us. A perfect lamb who had never sinned. One day when John the Baptist was baptizing, he saw his cousin Jesus approaching him. John said, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” (John 1:29). Jesus became our lamb.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/mbolina

Paid in Full

When Jesus died on the cross, at one point he said, “It is finished.” When people were put in prison many years ago, and they fulfilled their sentence, the words, “Tetelestai” were written by their cell. The literal translation of that word means, “It is finished.” That same word was written on business documents in the New Testament times to indicate that a person’s bill was paid in full.

While there are priests who daily made sacrifices, Jesus said that this man who had made one sacrifice for sins sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:11-12).

He sat down because he was finished.

We Still Have a Choice

But we have free will. God doesn’t force us to believe, or accept what he provided for us. God loved me so much he provided Jesus as a payment for my sins. Nothing I did took care of one sin. Our salvation is not based on anything we can do. (Titus 3:5)

God tells us our faith is counted for righteousness when we place it in what Jesus did (Romans 4:5) When I was a religious person, I hoped I’d go to heaven one day, but I was never sure about it.

But when I attended a second Bible study and listened more intently to what Lois taught, on the way home something clicked. As the rain drizzled down a friend’s car window everything became crystal clear.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Mimai Mig

I Know Where I’m Going

The next day I called Lois and said, “Lois, I’m saved. I know I’m going to heaven!” My salvation was not based on anything except what Jesus had done for me. Instead of trusting in what I could do, I put my trust in what Jesus did.

Someone from the Bible study shared verses with me about eternal life. “He that has the Son has life and He that does not have the Son does not have life…I write these things unto you so that you may know you have eternal life,” (1 John 5:12-13) I didn’t have to wonder anymore. I knew for sure.

When Nicodemus was watching the miracles of Jesus, he told Jesus that he must be from God. Jesus answered and told Nicodemus that a man needed to be born again (John 3:6).

I was born a sinner and the night I saw that Jesus died for me, I was born again.

Someone gave me another special verse she called a birthday verse. It told me that when I made my decision to put my faith in what Jesus did on the cross, there was a birthday party for me in heaven and the angels were rejoicing (Luke 15:10).

What about you? Are you certain when you die that you will go to heaven? I want you to know I’m praying for you.

A Prayer for You

Lord, I lift up anyone who is reading this article right now. I ask you to prepare hearts for the wonderful truth in your Word. God, there is so much confusion in the world right now. We need to put our trust in the fact that you are sovereign and you know everything that we face each day. Lord, I know how much you love us. So much that you gave us Jesus. I pray that many will see and understand fully what Jesus meant in John 14:6, when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” Lord, this is my prayer. That people would see Jesus is the only way. I pray this all in your Son’s precious and Holy name. Amen.

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Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ArtyFree


Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne is a poet, speaker, published author of 16 books, including her latest book, Always There: Finding God's Comfort Through Loss. Anne has also written and published another memoir, Broken: A story of abuse, survival, and hopeSign up for Anne’s newsletter at www.annepeterson.com and receive a free eBook by clicking the tab. Or connect with her on Facebook.




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