He who has the Son has life; he who 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 so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Do you ever doubt your salvation? Do you ever wonder if you are really saved? It is not uncommon to experience doubts concerning your relationship to God and your eternal salvation. In fact, there was a time in my life when I was uncertain.
Many years ago I was a morning radio personality in Jackson, Mississippi. I had announced to my listeners that I had taken a job in Tampa, Florida and would soon be leaving. Many listeners called to express best wishes and sadness over my decision to move on with my career. One of those many calls I have never forgotten.
“Do you know for certain that you are going to heaven when you die,” asked the caller.
“I sincerely hope so,” I responded. “I’m a Christian and I’m trying to do the best I can. Hopefully God will let me in.”
To be honest, I was offended by the question. That was just a little too personal for my liking. But more than offensive, the question was troubling.
For as long as I can remember the church and Christian instruction has been a part of my life. I have always wanted to do good…to be a good person. I also have an onboard guilt system that kicks into high gear at the slightest wrongdoing. Did the caller see something in me that would cause him to question my relationship to God? Did he not see me as a good person? And if he saw me in a negative light — how does God see me? Am I not good enough?
Soon I was working my new radio gig in Florida. We began attending a Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg where I volunteered to be a part of a weekly visitation program called Evangelism Explosion. To be a part of the program was no small task. It required an enormous commitment to preparation, study, and memorization.
There was that question again. “Have you come to the place in your spiritual life that you know you will go to heaven when you die?” And another question, “If you were to stand before God and He were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven,’ what would you say to Him?”
The questions troubled me greatly. I didn’t think anybody could know for certain they were going to heaven. My answer to God’s question on why He should let me into His heaven was simply, “Well, I’ve tried to live a good life.”
I was embarrassed to ask my pastor or anyone on the team for the answers. So, I began to carefully read through textbook but still, the answers eluded me. As I read, I prayed for God to reveal the answers to these questions that had now become an obsession.
Surely the answer could be found in the Bible but…where? One morning my eyes fell upon these verses from 1 John 5: “He who has the Son has life; he who 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 so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Verse 13 grabbed my attention first. “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.” These words had been written to assure me of eternal life. You can know….you should know that you are going to heaven when you die.
In the preceding verse John clarifies who can have this assurance: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ and believed in Him and His promises (“…you who believe in the name of the Son of God”) then you can know for certain that you have eternal life. The answer, then, to the hypothetical question to God on why he should let you into His heaven is simply, “I believe in Jesus…trust in Him completely.”
But, what about doing good, being good, and earning your way into heaven? Salvation is not gained by good works. You can’t earn it. You can’t be good enough. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Eternal life is the gift of God and must be received by faith in Jesus Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
The good works we seek to do are not the way or means of salvation but rather, the evidence of salvation. It’s what a Christian does.
In the final days of my mother’s life I stood by her hospital bed and asked, “Mom, have you come to the place in your spiritual life that you know that you will go to heaven when you die?”
She responded, “I hope so. I hope I’ve been good enough.”
“Oh, Mom…you can know,” I said. “God wants you to know.”
That day she placed her trust in Jesus for her salvation.
Eternal life with God doesn’t come by your performance. You will never be good enough. Your ticket to God’s heaven is based on the flawless work of Jesus, His performance.
“Have you come to the place in your spiritual life that you know that you will go to heaven when you die?” God wants you to know.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Jesus Saves and Keeps You Saved
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.