The purpose of this article is to help you to be certain beyond all doubt that you will go to heaven when you die.
First, let's make sure that you understand God's plan of salvation:
Now that you understand God's plan of salvation, tell God that you are accepting Jesus' death in your place. Even if you think you are already saved, pray the following prayer out loud anyway so that there's no doubt of your salvation:
"God, I know that I have sinned against You! In Jesus' Name I ask You to forgive all of my sins. I now turn away from my sinful past, and in faith I turn to the living Jesus as my Savior. I accept Jesus' death on the cross in my place, and I confess that His blood has paid for all of my sins. Jesus, please make me the person that You want me to be. Thank You! In Jesus' Name, amen."
If you prayed this sincerely then you are now a Christian and you will go to heaven when you die! You're saved from the penalty of your sins! It's not because of a prayer, but because of your faith in Jesus as your Savior. Jesus is now living in your heart (see Ephesians 3:17), and as you cooperate with God while He works in your life then you will grow more and more in spiritual maturity.
Now, becoming a Christian removes the penalty for your past sins, but it does not necessarily remove the effects of your past sins. For example, if your body was damaged in some way by drugs or alcohol before you became a Christian, you probably weren't instantly healed the moment you got saved. You might still have some of the effects of your past sins to deal with, and these effects can include demonic affliction or oppression. For this reason, now that you are saved it is a good idea to renounce certain things that you might have been involved in that could have opened the door for demonic affliction to come against you. See my article called How to Cast Afflicting Spirits Out of Your Life for a powerful self-deliverance procedure.
Someone once said that if we are saved then we will act like it, and the remainder of this article will be devoted to encouraging you to live your faith through loving obedience to Jesus Christ. Then you will never need to be concerned about whether or not you are going to heaven, because you will be living in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, showing yourself to be His disciple. Remember, salvation does not come through our obedience to God or through any righteousness of our own (we have no righteousness of our own). Salvation only comes through faith in Christ as our Savior. However, our obedience is the evidence of our salvation (as we will see).
When you became saved (whether it was a moment ago or many years ago) you might not have felt any different. Our salvation is not based on our feelings, it is based on Biblical facts. We accept on faith that we are now saved. Notice that faith is not a feeling and it is not an emotion. Faith involves doing something. After receiving salvation, we should now do the things that Jesus would have us do. Read closely what James says in the Bible about the connection between faith and actions, and consider these passages carefully:
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" (James 2:14)
"Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:15-17)
"But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." (James 2:18)
"You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did." (James 2:20-22)
"And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." (James 2:23-24)
"In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:25-26)
The purpose of this article is to describe how we can know that we are going to heaven, and James has given us the key: He says that we must live our faith, we must put our faith into action. Actions speak louder than words, and our actions demonstrate what is in our hearts. If we have been calling ourselves Christians but we have been living self-centered lives, then we would be wise to take these words from James as a wake-up call and begin living Christ-centered lives instead. When we get to heaven there will be no more opportunities for rationalizations, excuses, or self-deception, so let's be brutally honest with ourselves while we still have time to change the way we are living our lives. If our daily lives revolve around our own needs and desires or our family's needs and desires rather than focusing on God's desires then it might mean that our priorities are misplaced. This is one reason why it is important to read the Bible every day, because we need to get to know our Savior and to understand what He has commanded us to do. We are not promised that the Christian life will be easy, but we are promised that it will be worth it!
As we have seen, salvation does not come through our obedience to God or through any righteousness of our own (we have no righteousness of our own). Salvation only comes through faith in Christ as our Savior. However, our obedience is theevidenceof our salvation.
In the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:11-15), Jesus describes four groups of people. As we examine these four groups, take note of which group has put their faith into obedient action:
The people in this group are deceived by the devil and they never believe in Jesus for salvation. This group representsallunbelievers, meaning atheists, agnostics, and those who are in non-Christian religions. These people have no faith in Jesus, and they know it.
The second group represents certain people who receive the Word of God with joy and believe it. These people probably call themselves Christians and attend church. But look what happens to them: In "the time of testing" they fall away. This tells us that there will be "times of testing" in Christians' lives, and that we must persevere in our faith. Unfortunately, this second group does not persevere in their faith, they give up when things get uncomfortable or become too much trouble.
Are these people saved? Some scholars say that this group represents people who only believe in Jesus with their minds, not with their hearts, and therefore they do not truly have saving faith. How many people in our churches fall into this category of having head knowledge but not heart faith? Far too many (even one is too many), and the sad fact is that they probably believe they are saved when in fact they may be on their way to hell. Are you in this group? Are you in for a horrifying shock when you step into eternity? Now is the time to ask yourself these questions, while there is still time to do something about it!
The third group represents people who also hear the Word and believe it, but they never mature in their faith. Jesus said that they go on their way rather than obeying His way. They are too busy with the things of this world, chasing after their own goals and ambitions and being overwhelmed with the worries and cares of this world.
Are these people saved? Perhaps, perhaps not. Christians who are worldly and are not yet spiritually mature (even if they have been Christians for many years) are often indistinguishable from non-Christians. If a person calls himself a Christian but he is more focused on the things of this world than on the things of God then it raises the question of whether he ever really got saved in the first place. Is Jesus really dwelling in his heart? It is not our place to judge whether or not people are saved, but let's be brutally honest and judge our own lives, let's "examine [ourselves] to see whether [we] are in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Matthew 13:22 and Mark 4:19 tell us that the people in this group are "unfruitful" in their Christian walk:
"The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22)It is unfortunate that the people in this group are unfruitful, because Matthew 7:18-20 and John 15:8 tell us that Christians are recognized by their "fruit" (obedience to Jesus) and that "branches" which are unfruitful are thrown into the fire:
"but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Mark 4:19)
"A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:18-20)
"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8)
This may indicate (as many Christian scholars believe) that the people represented by this group are destined to burn in hell for all eternity unless someone leads them to Christ. Luke 8:14 says that these people are "choked," which comes from a Greek word that can also be translated as "strangled" or "suffocated." These words convey the idea of death, not the abundant life that we have in Christ.
It is possible that thousands or millions of church-goers will step into eternity at death, but instead of a glorious welcome into heaven they will be horrified to find themselves banished from God's presence and cast into eternal torment. Does this describe you? Don't just assume that you're "probably okay." Make sure that you are saved and then submit fully to the Lord in every area of your life, showing yourself to be His disciple! Not out of fear, but out of a deep love for the Lord and a deep desire to please Him.
The fourth group represents those who truly are Christians and who are fruitful because of their obedience to Christ. Matthew 13:23 and Mark 4:20 say that they "produce a crop--thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." Luke 8:15 says that they produce this crop by persevering. They do not fall away when the going gets rough nor when they are tempted by worldly desires and passions. Their highest passion is Jesus, and it shows. They remain obedient to the Word of God, surrendering every area of their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This does not mean that they never make any mistakes or that they never sin, but it does mean that they do not continuallysin and that when they commit a sin they quickly confess it and ask for forgiveness.
Notice that of the four groups described in this parable, onlyonegroup definitely represents true Christians. The majority of the people in this parable appear to be unsaved, even those who initially believed the Gospel (possibly with their heads but not with their hearts). This gives the impression that many people who believe they are Christians may in fact be bound for hell and they don't even know it. They are expecting a glorious welcome into heaven but instead they will receive the ultimate horror: Eternity in burning agony in the lake of fire and eternal condemnation and banishment from the glorious presence of God. Why? Simply from not examining their lives and not making thechoiceto be obedient to the Lord.
The Parable of the Sower illustrates the theme of this article, because out of the three groups who believed the Gospel, only one group was obedient and fruitful. Jesus specifically said that it is our fruitful obedience which shows that we are His disciples (see Matthew 7:18-20 and John 15:8 above). Therefore, it is important for us to remain obedient to the Word of God and to surrender our lives to the Lord so that we will be members of the fourth group in the Parable of the Sower. Then we never need to be worried about our salvation ever again!
Jesus repeatedly stressed that "many" will take the easy road which leads to destruction and that "few" will take the narrow road which leads to eternal life:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wideis the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction,and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. "(Matthew 7:13-14)
This agrees with what we learned from the Parable of the Sower. The "many" will enter into everlasting destruction (including many who call themselves Christians) and the "few" will enter into eternal life. Luke tells us that someone questioned Jesus about this, asking if only a few people will be saved. Notice Jesus' answer:
"Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."(Luke 13:23-24)
Again Jesus says that "many" will be unable to enter the narrow door which leads to eternal life, and He tells us to make every effort to enter through that narrow door. We need to be completely open and honest with ourselves: Are we part of the "many" who are taking the easy, worldly road that leads to destruction or are we part of the "few" who are persevering and producing a fruitful crop for the Kingdom by trying to stay obedient to God in every area of our lives? Remember, we are not part of the "few" just because we say that Jesus is our 'Lord,' it is doing His will which demonstrates that we are members of the "few":
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)
Over and over Jesus tells us that the "many" will take the wide, easy, worldly road that leads to destruction, and that the "few" will take the narrow road that leads to life. I am not trying to scare you, but I do want to impress upon you that we must not play games with God, we must not merely play at being Christians. We can't afford to be naive or complacent or spiritually immature in this lifetime because the punishment which the "many" will receive is everlasting, conscious agony in the lake of fire. Many of us need to hear this message in our hearts so that it will "jump-start" our Christian lives and our daily walk with Jesus. I can only hope and pray that you have received salvation and that your life gives evidence of your obedient, loving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, because I don't want anybody to have to suffer eternal punishment. If you doubt that people will burn in conscious agony in hell for all eternity then I invite you to see my article called Will Sinners Burn in Hell Forever?
All of us are at different places in our walk with Jesus. All of us are at different levels of spiritual maturity. This means that there are probably many Christians who are saved but who give the appearance of being worldly simply because they still have some growing and maturing to do. However, this still leaves the "many" whom Jesus referred to who are unsaved, even though they may not realize it. I can't reach all of them, but I hope and pray that I have at least caused you to consider re-committing and re-dedicating your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Is He the Lord of the books you read? Is He the Lord of the movies you go to? Is He the Lord of the TV shows you watch? Is He the Lord of the music you listen to? Is He the Lord of the games you play? Is He the Lord of the things you say? Is He the Lord of the comments you make about people? Is He the Lord of the way you treat people?
We should commit everything that we do to the Lordship of Christ (Proverbs 16:3), and in fact we are told to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is what it means to walk the narrow road and to make Jesus the Lord over our lives. Anytime an impure thought or desire comes into our minds then we should immediately say "I reject that thought. I will not accept that thought." Our minds are the battlefield in which the devil wages his vicious warfare, and if we can take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ then we will have greater and greater victory in our Christian walk. For help in staying on the narrow road I invite you to read my article called Scriptural Ways to Grow in Spiritual Maturity.
To underscore the importance of focusing on our relationship with Jesus and doing His will here on earth, let's take a look at a couple more of His parables. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27) Jesus tells of a master who entrusted his servants with various large sums of money (each according to his ability) before going on a long trip. When the master returned (crowned as king in the Parable of the Minas) he demanded an accounting of how well the servants had used what the master had entrusted to them. Some of the servants had put their gifts to good use:
"The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'" (Matthew 25:20)
"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'" (Luke 19:16)
The servants who had "produced fruit" with what the master had given them were told:
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." (Matthew 25:21)
"Well done, my good servant! ... Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities." (Luke 19:17)
Are we like these faithful servants? Are we bearing much fruit for Jesus, showing ourselves to be His disciples? We will only "bear much fruit" if we remain in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ:
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:5-8)
Notice that it is by remaining in a close relationship with the Lord that we are able to be fruitful, and it is by bearing much fruit that we show ourselves to be His disciples. However, what did Jesus say about the "unfruitful" branches in the passage above? They are thrown into the fire and burned! This echoes what He said in the Parable of the Talents: The servant who did not use the gift that the master had given him and did not produce any fruit was punished:
"'I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! ... throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" (Matthew 25:25-26,30)
Each one of us will have to give an account of how we used the gifts which our Master has given us.
Many Christians don't realize it, but we will all be judged by Jesus for the things we did on earth. This judgment is not for salvation, its purpose is to dispense the rewards (or lack of rewards) that Christians have earned for their obedience to Jesus while they lived in their physical bodies on earth.
In the following passages, Paul makes it clear that we Christians will all give an account of ourselves to Jesus and that we will all be judged and rewarded according to our own labor. Notice that Paul says "we" must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and that "we" will receive our rewards. He is speaking of all Christians, including himself:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10)
"You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10-12)
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor." (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)
Therefore, if you are a Christian then you will be judged by Jesus Christ and you will have to give an account of yourself to Him.
In the next passage, notice what will happen at the judgment seat of Christ. Fire will burn off all of the wood, hay, or straw (meaning all of our self-centered and unrighteous acts on earth), but the gold, silver, and costly stones (our righteous acts for the Kingdom of God) will be refined and purified. Therefore, only our righteous acts will remain after the fire tests our earthly actions, deeds, and motives, and we will receive our rewards based solely on our Kingdom works. Everything we do according to our own plans and ambitions and desires is ultimately useless and valueless. We should focus on being obedient to Jesus so that we lay up treasures in heaven for ourselves while we still can:
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)
After our earthly works are tested in the fire then we will receive rewards or suffer loss based on the quality of our works. For more on this, I invite you to read my article called The Rapture of the Church.
We have seen that salvation does not come through our obedience to God or through any righteousness of our own (we have no righteousness of our own). Salvation only comes through faith in Christ as our Savior. We have also seen that our obedience is the evidence of our salvation.
I have been attempting to demonstrate in different ways how important it is for us to surrender our lives completely to Jesus and to give Him a blank check over our lives every day. In this way we can be obedient, fruitful Christians, showing ourselves to be His disciples. Jesus said that this is how we are recognized as being Christians.
Here is another reason why we need to surrender our lives to the Lord: Jesus purchased us with His blood, and as Christians we are members of His body. We are no longer our own to do as we please, we are His purchased possessions:
"Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)
"You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
"And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."" (Revelation 5:9)
Jesus has purchased us with His blood and He has grafted us into His body. He is the vine and we are the branches:
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
"After all, if you [Gentile Christians] were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree [Jesus], how much more readily will these, the natural branches [Jews], be grafted into their own olive tree!" (Romans 11:24)
We have been grafted as branches into the true vine, we are now members of the body of Christ, and we all have specific functions to perform in the body. We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10):
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27)
"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
"If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"" (1 Corinthians 12:17-21)
"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." (Romans 12:4-6)
Even if you have been a Christian for many years, this may be new to you. Many Christians do not realize that we are not our own to do as we please, we have been purchased by Christ for His purposes, we are now a part of His body. Consider that if a part of your body stops functioning properly then your entire body is likely to be affected to some degree. In a similar way, if a member of the body of Christ does not function properly then the entire body of Christ is affected and God's perfect plans and purposes are hindered in some way. As members of Christ's body we are called to perform the functions which our Father has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). This is why we are told to put to death our earthly natures and be submissive and obedient to our Lord, doing the will of our Father:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)
"any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)
"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8)
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22)
"Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."" (Luke 9:23)
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11)
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:24)
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." (Colossians 3:5)
Here is a prayer that you can pray to ask God to help you put to death your pride and selfishness:
"Lord, I take every gift that You have given me, every position of service, every calling, every talent, and I lay them on Your altar. They are Yours and not mine. Forgive me in Jesus' Name for serving my own goals, plans, and desires. I repent of my self-centeredness and my selfish ways, and I ask You to help me be ruled by the self-sacrificial love of the Holy Spirit within me. I believe that You are bringing about the death of pride and selfish ambition within me, and I give You thanks in the precious Name of Jesus. Amen."
The purpose of this article is to show you how to be certain that you are saved and going to heaven, and I have been demonstrating that fruitful, selfless obedience to our Lord is a Scriptural outward evidence of our salvation. Once again, let me be clear: Salvation does not come through our obedience to God or through any righteousness of our own (we have no righteousness of our own). Salvation only comes through faith in Christ as our Savior. However, our obedience is the evidence our salvation.
Now, here's another aspect of obedience to consider. We are told over and over in Scripture that to love Jesus is to obey Him, and to obey Him is to love Him. If we are walking in love then we will walk in obedience.
Jesus said that the most important commandment in all of Scripture is to love God, and that the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors:
""The most important [commandment]," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."" (Mark 12:29-31)
Do you love Jesus with all your heart? Do you love Jesus with all your soul? Do you love Jesus with all your mind? Do you love Jesus with all your strength? We are commanded to love Him that much!
The second greatest commandment in all of Scripture is for us to treat everyone with love and forgiveness and humility. This is not always easy, but it is what we are commanded to do!
Most Christians would probably say that they love the Lord, but what does it really mean to love Jesus that much? The Bible tells us this:
"If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." (John 14:21)
"Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching."" (John 14:23-24)
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." (John 15:10)
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him." (1 John 2:3-5)
"This is love for God: to obey his commands." (1 John 5:3)
"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands." (2 John 1:6)
So the Bible says that if we truly love Jesus then we will try to walk in obedience to Him each and every day of our lives, not just on Sunday mornings. If we are saved then we should act like it.
Notice that the church at Ephesus began with a great love for Jesus and a great zeal for serving Him, but by the time the book of Revelation was written they had lost much of that zeal and that love for the Lord. This prompted Jesus to say to them (through the apostle John):
"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first." (Revelation 2:4-5).
The Greek word translated as "first" in "first love" really carries the meaning of "foremost" or "priority." Jesus wants to be our priority love. In fact, notice that Jesus told the church at Ephesus to repent for not keeping Him as their priority love! Are our relationships with Jesus our top priority in life, or do we need to repent as well? We should consciously maintain that first love, that priority love, each and every day; it is up to us to maintain our passion and our zeal and our spiritual fervor:
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." (Romans 12:11)
Another way to look at "first love" is to imagine what it is usually like when people first fall in love with each other. When two people are head over heels in love, they tend to spend a lot of time thinking about each other and wanting to be together. They want to do anything in the world to please each other. If you are in love with Jesus then you will set your heart and your mind on Him (as Colossians 3:1-2 tells us to do) and you will want to do whatever it takes to please Him:
"We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (2 Corinthians 5:8-9)
"Live as children of light ... and find out what pleases the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8-10)
"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10)
"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more." (1 Thessalonians 4:1)
"No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer." (2 Timothy 2:4)
"And without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6)
"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." (1 John 3:21-22)
Fall in love with Jesus and His written Word, and live a life worthy of Him, pleasing Him in every way!
As we have seen, salvation does not come through our obedience to God or through any righteousness of our own (we have no righteousness of our own). Salvation only comes through faith in Christ as our Savior.
However, I have tried to show that our faith must be accompanied by actions, because our actions and deeds demonstrate what is in our hearts. Jesus said that many people will call Him their Lord, but their actions will deny this because they will not do what He says. Actions speak louder than words, and our actions demonstrate what is in our hearts. Jesus said:
"'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" (Matthew 15:8-9)
"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'" (Matthew 15:19-20)
Our actions demonstrate what is in our hearts. This does not mean that we are saved by our works, it means that our fruitful obedience is the evidence of our salvation.
But what about people who have not matured spiritually and who are overly focused on the world and its values? What about people who are finding it difficult to remain submissive to the Lord every day and who are not very active members of the body of Christ? What about people who have fallen into some kind of sin? Am I saying that all of these people are going to hell? No, I am not saying that. The fact of the matter is that when we all get to heaven we will probably be surprised that certain people made it, and we will probably be surprised that certain "Godly" people didn't make it! We don't know the state of people's hearts and we don't know who has confessed their sins and received forgiveness, only God knows these things. However, recall that the purpose of this article is to help us to know that we are on our way to heaven, and we can know this by living the obedient, submissive life that God has called us to. When we live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit then we will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit:
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Galatians 5:24-25)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Bible never says that the Christian life will be easy or be free from suffering, but it emphatically declares that the Christian life will be worth it!
Let me sum up everything I have been trying to say by leaving you with the words of the apostle John. John's desire was to show us how we can know that we are in Christ, and this is also the desire of my heart in writing this article. He says that we can have assurance of our salvation by walking in obedience and love towards Jesus and by demonstrating love to all those around us:
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands." (1 John 2:3)
"This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:5-6)
"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." (1 John 3:10)
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth" (1 John 3:18-19)
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7)
"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)
"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 John 4:19-21)
"This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2-3)
"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." (1 John 5:13)
In the words of our Lord:
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)
So fall in love with Jesus and begin obeying Him. Put Him first in every area of your life on a daily basis, and walk in love towards everyone around you. Love is the fulfillment of Scripture!
"The entire law is summed up in a single command:
Love your neighbor as yourself."
"Love does no harm to its neighbor.
Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R). NIV (R). Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
This material is not copyrighted. Please feel free to use it in any way which will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ!