Within the space of one hour, I talked to three people this afternoon who failed to tell me something I wanted to hear. I was saddened. I got back into my car and prayed for them.

The first man was friendly and quite chatty. On the matter of going to heaven, he told me he was hoping he would get there. Arthritis these days is preventing him from going to church regularly, but he assured me he went to the same church all his life. I asked him if he knew of anyone who was ‘sure’ they were going to heaven. He paused for a very brief moment and quickly said: “Yes, over the years I only know of one who said he knew for sure he would be in Heaven.” “And who was that,” I asked? He said, “I once saw Billy Graham on the Larry King show and Mr. Graham said confidently that he knew he was going to heaven.”

Of the thousands of things people see and hear over the years as they watch television, isn’t it remarkable that Billy Graham’s absolute assurance of eternal life and being sure of heaven, stuck with this 78 year old man. He didn’t have to think very long – that one sentence of Mr. Graham was burned into his memory. I think I know why. The dear older man probably would love to know for sure he too is going to heaven, but his church tells him no one can be sure until the Judgment Day. He has been told all his life that as long as he was baptised and did the best he could do, he would probably have a good chance of getting to heaven.

Then I talked to a sweet old lady. Bright and quick witted. She was a pleasure to meet. She immediately told me that she was a ____. That was her religion. I said: “Oh well, then – you know all about the death of Christ and the Lamb of God who died upon the cross for our sins.”   “Yes,” she said, “I know all about Christ. I have known Him all my life. I always go to church and I say my prayers and when they are answered, I am always careful to thank Him. I think going to church and saying your prayers faithfully has a lot to do with going to heaven,” she said.

With a friendly and very alert smile, she challenged me. “I bet I have known about Christ longer than you have. How old are you?” she asked. I disclosed my age to her and she laughed: “Well, I’ve got you beat. I am 90!” I told her I was SURE I was going to Heaven and she looked startled. Momentarily lost for words, she held out her hand and said: “I want to shake your hand. You are the first person I have ever met in my 90 years who told me they knew for sure they were going to heaven.

As I was leaving I told her that I would like to meet her in Heaven. She said rather sadly and not mockingly: “If you get there, please say a prayer for me that I will make it too.” Heavy hearted and breathing a prayer for the woman’s salvation I walked away and met Mr. Eldridge. He was very dignified and gracious. He asked me a few questions and then he said: “Oh well, that’s one thing I’m not worried about. I’m not worried about going to heaven because I’ve been good all my life.”

If you were the fourth person I had met today, what would you have said to me? Would you have grabbed my hand and said: “Well that makes two of us! I am absolutely sure I am going to Heaven. I have a moment in my life when I found out that Jesus died for my sins and I accepted Him personally as my own Saviour. I started for Heaven that night!”

Friend, a good life has nothing to do with your acceptance into Heaven. Your baptism as an infant or your church confirmation or your taking of the sacraments or your strict adherence to religious rituals or your faithfulness to your religion has nothing to do with qualifying you for Heaven. That flies in the face of what the Bible teaches. It is in direct opposition to the Word of God. We are not saved partially by our own efforts and the other part by the death of Christ. It’s not teamwork. His death plus my good works do NOT equal eternal salvation.

I am going to heaven because Jesus died for my sins. (Period!) plus nothing else. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved 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.

Titus 3:4-6 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 Saviour.

Religious people came to Jesus and asked what good works they could do for God. Here’s how the conversation went in John 6:28-29: “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

In other words, if you have never accepted Jesus Christ (who was sent into this world to die on the Cross for sins) as your own personal Saviour, then there is absolutely nothing you can do to please God.

Until you have a moment of repentance when you agreed with God that you are the sinner and that Jesus died for your sins, then all your good works are dead works to God. In fact, the Bible says the good works of a sinner are offensive to God.

Can you know for sure you are going to Heaven? Most definitely. Here is what the Bible says:

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life;
whoever 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
that you may know that you have eternal life.
1John 5:11-13
Originally posted 2006