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Beth Ann Ziarnik

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Going to Heaven

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Going to Heaven

You may not know it, but . . .

Heaven is a real place---and lots of people are going there. Not everyone. Some actually choose not to go. But many others who discovered that God loves them, also discovered that He made it possible to be certain they are going there.

I didn't always know that.

As a child, I thought if I worked very hard to be good, maybe some day I'd go to heaven. Believe me, I tried, but deep down inside I knew. I'd never be good enough for God's perfect heaven.

One Sunday after watching a TV with stories of people overcoming problems with God's help, I heard the host say that Jesus had already paid for my sins.

Really?

All I had to do, he said, to be ready to go to heaven was:

  • confess I was a sinner
  • believe Jesus was the Son of God and died on the cross to pay for my sins
  • ask him to forgive me and invite him to be my Savior and Lord

    I went away, wishing it were true, but believing it just couldn't be that easy.

    God saw the desire of my heart . . .

    . . . began to address it.

    The Friday before Confirmation Sunday, my sixth grade teacher busied herself, preparing our class. Just before the bell rang to dismiss us, she urged, "This Sunday, when the bishop lays his hands on your head and prays for you, ask Jesus for all he has for you."

    I can do that, I thought, and with a sincere heart that Sunday, I did.

    A year later in the school library, I chose The Passion and Death of Jesus for my seventh grade book report assignment. As I read that skinny book at home alone, it struck me how much Jesus suffered to pay for my sins. Right then I begged his forgiveness and declared my desire to follow him for the rest of my life. From that moment on, I had a new "Best Friend" and never doubted that I would go to heaven one day.

    Written in God's Word

    Eventually, I discovered the way to heaven written in The Bible:

  • "For all [that's you and me] have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard" ~ Romans 3:23.

  • But . . . "God so loved the world [you and me] that he gave his only Son [that's Jesus], so that everyone [you and me again] who believes in him will not perish [suffer hell and its torment], but have eternal life [in his beautiful heaven with him]" ~ John 3:16.

  • And because the penalty for sin is death and hell . . . "God showed his great love for us by sending [Jesus] Christ to die for us [on the cross. That is, though sinless himself, he took our place and paid the penalty for our sins to set us free from that penalty] while we were yet sinners" ~ Romans 5:8.

  • But that freedom only takes effect if we choose to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord . . . "To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" ~ John 1:12

  • And we must receive God's gift of salvation by faith . . . "God saved you by his special favor [his grace] when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation [from the penalty for your sins] is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it" ~ Ephesians 2:8-9.

  • Then you experience the new birth Jesus told Nicodemus about in John 3:1-8.

Many ways?

Do you believe there are many ways to get to heaven? You are not alone. But you might then be interested to know what Jesus himself said:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father [God the Father], but through me" ~ John 14:6.

That settled it for me. After all, wouldn't God know the right way to heaven? And wouldn't he alone have the right to say how we get to go to his heaven?

You know, I think it's really great that, even though he gives us the full freedom to refuse, he truly wants everyone to go to heaven. I also think it's great that he makes the way so clear.

The Way to Heaven

The way to heaven is through none other than Jesus. He alone paid the (death) penalty for our sins. When we choose to believe in him, ask his forgiveness, and accept his free gift of salvation, God then gives us a new life and a new heart with good and right desires.

Does that make us instantly perfect? In God's eyes, yes. Because he sees the blood of Jesus covering our sins. But in our behaviors with one another on earth, no. Yet it's not hopeless. Through the years as we obey God's Word, we grow in our love for him, and he works in our hearts to make us more and more like his Son Jesus who never sinned.

Then one day, when our time on earth is over, we get to go to heaven---a place where there is no more sorrow, sickness or shame. A place of love, joy, peace and fulfillment forever in God's presence.

Would you like to pray? Your own words along these lines are fine, of course, but if you need a little help . . . here's a suggested prayer.

Prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, no doubt about it. I'm a sinner. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sins. Please forgive me and come into my heart as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me a new life and a new heart with good and right desires. Please help me live the rest of my life loving and honoring you. Amen.

If you've sincerely prayed, congratulations! You have just received God's free gift of salvation.

No doubt, you will also want to remain faithful to him. A good way to do that is by making good use of the following tools to aid you:

  • Pray every day (Yeah! God wants to hear from you.)
  • Read your Bible every day (You might want to start with the gospel of John.)
  • Find a good Bible-believing Christian church where you can gather regularly with other believers and learn more about what it means to love God and live for Jesus. (You'll make great friends too.)
  • Be water baptized (This is a public testimony that you now belong to Jesus.)
  • Tell others about God's free gift of forgiveness through Jesus' shed blood on the cross. (Share the story about how you came to Jesus and what it's meant to you in the same way you share any good news about your life with family and friends, etc.)

    God be with you, and may the Lord bless you always.

    ~Beth

    Scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW LIVING TRANSLATION. Copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


     

Copyright 2015 Beth Ann Ziarnik

 


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