How do I know I am saved and will go to heaven when I die?
This is the ultimate question, isn’t it?! At least, it is for those who take God’s word about heaven and hell seriously. And it’s weight is even greater for those facing a terminal disease or deploying for military service. But it isn’t just for those who feel threatened by death. Since each of us are ignorant of what tomorrow may hold, the question of our eternal destiny is of ultimate importance.
Fortunately, in his love, God did not leave the pathway to heaven hidden. In John 14:6 Jesus said that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that all who trust in him will go to the Father in heaven. Writing later in another epistle, John says again that everything comes down to knowing, loving, and trusting Jesus: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the son does not have life.” So here is the million-dollar question: What does it mean to have the Son?
Five Questions to Know That You Have Eternal Life
Since having the Son is the only way to eternal life (1 John 5:12), it is vital to know if you have the Son (5:13). Sadly, many are self-deceived and blinded by the devil (2 Cor 4:4). Therefore, they do not realize that their generic knowledge about God is not the same thing as a personal, saving knowledge of Christ. In such a situation self-examination is necessary (2 Cor 13:4). Still, for those only vaguely familiar with the things of God, such a process quickly sputters, because a lost person doesn’t know they are lost. They walk in the dark, groping for something, bu what they need most is a light to illumine their path.
What follows is, I pray, such a light. These five questions can help you (or someone you know) know if you/they have the Son and by extension eternal life. Instead of explaining the importance of each question, I’ve simply followed each with a few verses of Scripture. It is my prayer that those who take time to ask these questions might see with greater clarity the Son who has redeemed them, or the fact that they stand outside of Christ and need to cry out to him.
Therefore, with assurance as the goal: ask the questions. Read the verses. Pray to God for light. And honestly evaluate your heart in the light of Scripture. Remember God is not looking to save impressive people; he is looking to save sinners and impress them into the image of his Son.
1. Do you love Jesus more than life (e.g., food, clothes, home, hobbies, wife, stuff, etc.) itself?
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:1-3)
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:25-28)
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:34-36)
2. Do you see death as gain because you finally get Jesus?
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1:21-23)
3. Do you love Jesus’ church, the people who will inhabit God’s kingdom?
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Peter 1:22-23)
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:16-21)
4. Do you know God’s working all things for Christ’s glory and your good?
Though he slay me, I will hope in him. (Job 13:15a)
Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:5-8)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
5. Do you trust in Christ alone for your forgiveness of sins?
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17)
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
For by grace you have been saved [from sin & death] 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. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)
Salvation is Offered to All
Friend, salvation does not depend on you knowing everything about the Son; it doesn’t depend on you getting the right answer. In fact, salvation doesn’t depend on you at all.
Salvation is a gift from God to sinners who put all their trust in Christ and what he did for them on the cross. Eternal life is given to those who confess that Christ alone takes away their sin and makes them right with God. And then eternal life is seen in the life of born again believers as they begin demonstrating that Christ-like life in their daily interactions with others.
If you have never experienced personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, you can cry to God today asking him to receive you based on Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and your trust in him. Then for the time you have left on this earth—be it forty years or forty days—your simple calling is to know Jesus. Eternal life does not begin in the future; it begins with a true knowledge of Christ (John 17:3). And thankfully it is not something we have to guess at, eternal life is something we can be assured of as we treasure Christ above all things and bear fruit for his glory as abide in his love.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss