As a Christian, How Will I Know That I Will Be In Heaven?
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 05, Jun 2018
Matthew 8:12 ‘But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Patrick is a church planter and a pastor in United States. He shared this story. ‘I once received the dreaded middle of the night phone call. As most of these calls do, it breathed news of tragedy: my brother snapped in two at the neck after running his jeep headlong into an Oak tree. Left behind in the backseat were terrible evidences of his devastating end; everything blood soak, a half bag of sunflower, a baseball mitt (glove), and a couple of molars (teeth). It is graphic. And these pictures hold power. They say that forensic experts can formulate both victim and offender profiles by observing a person’s possessions and space (his place) or interviewing that person’s friends and family. It follows, then, that family members can do the same with their loved ones. So we rifled through all that was left behind in the wake of my brother’s life — we rummaged through items not just from his vehicle, but also from his apartment: clothes, checkbook, CDs, books, photos, video games, receipts, calendar, love letters. But it’s what my brother didn’t leave behind that — for a long time — made me agonize over whether or not he is in Heaven. We found no Bible or church bulletin, uncovered no crucifix or prayer book, spoke to no one who indicated he had a faith-life of any kind. But with so little to go on, I’m left with questions: If my brother was a follower of Jesus, wouldn’t there have been some evidence of a connection? Wouldn’t those closest to him have testified to hearing him speak about Jesus? Because “if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). And if he was a true disciple of Jesus, wouldn’t his life have produced much fruit? Ultimately, these unanswered questions make me wonder about myself: What spiritual “hard evidence” am *I* leaving behind? When I die, will my friends and family have to speculate about my allegiance to the Christ? And to you I ask the same question: What spiritual traces are you leaving behind that you are in heaven if you die today.
Probably most Christians believe they will go to heaven. A survey was done and most Americans believe they will go to heaven. There may be many opinions on who gets to go to heaven as there are people. Here are a few of the most popular beliefs.
God is love and so everyone becomes an angel and goes to heaven when they die
Whoever obeys the Ten Commandments will go to heaven
Whoever who goes to church will go to heaven
Whoever does more good things than bad things will go to heaven
Whoever believes in God will go to heaven
Whoever has not killed anyone or done anything really bad will go to heaven
Everyone in a Christian household will go to heaven
Sadly these opinions may seem OK, but they are all wrong
A question was asked. Even if you know Jesus is the Son of God and you keep habitually committing a certain sins can you still be forgiven of all your sins no matter what they are? That is the theme of my sermon this morning
What can we learn from this lesson?
1. The Mark of a True Christian
God gives us several tests that we can use to determine if we are Christians. One of these tests is found in 1 John 2. In this passage the apostle John writes in 1 John 2:3-6, ‘By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.’
Did you notice that those who know God (Christians) obey God? If we say that we are Christians because we know that Jesus is the Son of God but we keep sinning, we have deceived ourselves. We are not really Christians. The devil also believes in God and trembles. The mark of a Christian is that he or she “keeps His word.” But what does it mean to “keep”? This unlocks the meaning of our passage. Does this mean that God expects us to obey Him perfectly? If one commits one sin, then is he or she no longer a Christian? The answer is no because the Greek word for “keep” does not have the idea of “perfection” but of “guarding or watching.” It has the idea of a strong commitment to keep or obey. The meaning becomes clear just a few verses later. 1 John 2:29 says, ‘If you know that He is righteous you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. I John 3:7-9 says, ‘Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteousness, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin. These verses explain what the Holy Spirit means by ‘keep His Word.’ He is talking about a pattern of life – a pattern of obedience – a pattern of holy living. True Christians have a pattern of life which is marked by a commitment to be holy.
2. Life in a Church
I think the best example of the problem of habitual sins in found in the book of Corinthians. The city of Corinth is labeled ‘Vanity Fair’; the vices of the East and of the West meet here. There were a thousand priestesses who ministered for the Greek goddess Aphrodite and these thousand so called priestesses were actually nothing in the world but prostitutes. It is a commercial center of the Roman Empire. The Rome declared it a free city. In Paul’s day there were 400,000 inhabitants in Corinth. This is the environment that the Corinthian church is surrounded with and influenced by. Iloilo City is growing. We have maybe 700,000 people, a little bit more than the Corinthian City. We are a democratic country, a free city. We are really growing as a commercial center. They say the next big thing is in Iloilo City. Elder Stephen has this prophetic download that Iloilo City is an emerging city. We know that next year they will start building a 5 kilometer bridge that crosses Iloilo to Guimaras and a 14 kilometer bridge (the longest bridge in the Philippines) that crosses Guimaras to Negros. It is a growing City. Of course along with growth, we see increased in vices and prostitution. Like the Corinthian church, Evangel Tabernacle is surrounded by such environment and are we influenced by the environment of the City? Paul sent by God has a problem with the Christian in the Corinthian Church. Honestly recently I am troubled by what I see in this church. The Corinthian Church has the problem of habitual sins.
What are the habitual sins found in the Corinthian church? Firstly fornications are found in the church. They follow the pattern of the world. Paul reminded them in 1 Corinthians 6:9 ‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (go to heaven)? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (LGBT), nor abusers of themselves with mankind.’ The fornication found in the church is worse in that it is not even found in outside the church. There is not only fornication but one of the church members married his father’s wife. In today’s terminology it is called incest or illicit affairs. We need to recognize flagrant sin and deal with it. Now what is fornication? It is voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other. Paul says this deed must be taken away from you. Are there fornications among us?
Steven Cole, famed ex-pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship in California wrote this; ‘Years ago, I read about a pastor who became involved immorally with a married women in his congregation. They each divorced their respective mates and then were married to each other in the church of which he was pastor. The congregation turned out en masse for the wedding, giving open support. Are there adulteresses among us? This tragic story reflects the dominant mood in the church today, that we should show love and tolerance to those who fall into sin. That mentality is behind the push to accept practicing, unrepentant homosexuals as church members and even as pastors. Pastor John MacArthur reports that a leading pastor once told him, ‘If you discipline church members, they’ll never stand for it (that is, they will leave the church), and you’ll empty the place (the church will become empty). You can’t run around sticking your nose into everyone’s sin.’ And they add further to the twisting of scriptures. Perhaps no verse is so taken out of context and misapplied as Matthew 7:1, which says, ‘Do not judge so that you will not be judged.’ But from the same chapter Jesus says in verse 6, ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine. Then in verse 15 He adds, ‘Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.’ To obey the whole scriptures of Matthew 7, you must judge that a person is a dog or a swine or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Paul tells us that the church is responsible to judge those within the church. Practicing biblical church discipline does not violate Jesus’ command, ‘Judge not’.
Last Sunday, we witnessed two performances from the mainly youth church members. And please don’t’ get us wrong. We are extremely happy to see the Youth Church growing and involving. But last Saturday there was a rehearsal and Pastor Lily and I had to watch to make sure they are good before being presented on our Sunday services. But then we notice one boy that was very effeminate in his action. We are troubled but we allowed him to perform provided he performs in a manly way. We don’t want to come forth as leaders in this church that approves of LGBT. Please don’t get us wrong. I know in this church there are some of you that has homosexual and lesbian tendency but we did not chase you out because we are praying and hoping that you will experience the power of God and be free.
Anyway the theme of my sermon today is ‘As a Christian, how will I know that I will be in heaven?’ I will say that if you habitually practices sins, you will not be in heaven. What are the habitual sins that are common among us and in the Corinthian Church? One is constantly lying. Are you a consistent liar, even though you are a Christian? When trapped in a situation or wanting to obtain some benefits you resort to lying. Lying is your second nature. The Apostle Paul says, ‘All Cretans are liars.’ I did a research on the Crete (which is an island) and I found out that they originate from the Philistines and that is where we have the Palestinians today. If you observe the Palestinians in their dealing with the Israeli is, everything they say are lies. They tell all kinds of lies. Lying is their second nature. Is lying your second nature? Do you constantly lie? The bible is very clear. Rev 21:8 says, ‘but the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.’ Of course when I wasn’t a Christian I told lies. I remember I was a young boy probably the age of 10; I went to a Sari Sari store and I only had 2 dollar notes to purchase my tidbits. But the owner of the sari sari store thought that I gave $10 and gave me $8 in change. I told me that I gave him $2. But tempted by the $10, later I went back to the store and told him I made a mistake that I actually gave him $10. I told a lie. It is my second nature. But when I came to know Jesus, experience the power of salvation; I have conviction from that day onward. Today when I go to a supermarket and if the cashier gave me extra change, which happens many times, I will tell that cashier she gave me extra. I know it is wrong. And I am not going to lie. Because I have a relationship with Jesus, and I am convicted if I tell lies.
Second is stealing. I have a maid that I totally cannot trust. I believe she steals my rice, my mangoes, my avocados, my eggs, and my cooking gas, my cooking oil, my everything in the kitchen. The saddest part is she is supposedly a Christian and I want to say that my unbelieving house cleaner is more righteous than her. I doubt her salvation and honestly I wondered how she can do that when she has been attending this church. She has not experienced the power of Salvation or she just doesn’t care. Stealing is her second nature. You can’t do that.
Third is marriage is in trouble. There is adultery and unfaithfulness. People just divorce when they are not happy. There is no pattern to want to obey. I pray that those that get married in this church will stay faithful to one another until Jesus comes. I know it is common to have extra marital affairs, to go to the law and ask for annulment or simply leave the spouse and start another family even though legally you are not allowed to. This is the way of the world. But if we are Christians, we remain faithful. Pastor lily and I have been married for 30 years. You think our marriage is a bed of roses. Well I discovered long long ago that there is the engagement ring and later there is the suffering. But God is in our lives. No matter how bad our relationship is, God is always there to remind us of commitment and forgiveness and overlooking one another’s fault.
Fourth, there is disunity to a point of lawsuits. Sometimes I cannot understand why two people can really love God so much and yet just couldn’t see each other eye to eye. I can only say that the devil is involved in the disunity. You have to rebuke and destroy the attacks of the devil. But one that is a Christian will know what is right and make efforts to do what is right. And forgive. Forgiveness covers a multitude of sins.
3. Heaven or Hell
If you cannot make it to heaven, then you will be in hell. There is no third place. For God there is right and wrong, there is righteousness and evil, and so there is only heaven or hell. Lance, the son of Robert is so cute. He is an inquisitive boy and he ask the father a lot of questions and some of them very intelligent question. He asks the dad how hot is hell. Is Hell hotter than the sun? The sun is 3.5 million F. Recently for the past few weeks, the volcano in Hawaii is erupting and spitting red hot lava into the air. There was a man, who was a long distance from the spitting red hot lava. But that one time there was an explosion and the red hot lava spit into the air and unfortunately landed on his leg. Immediately his leg was burned and had to be amputated. Everybody expects to go to heaven. The reason I am sharing this message is because recently I had a dream of me standing at the final hour and it was heaven or hell. I want to be in heaven. But Jesus did say, ‘The sons of the Kingdom (Christians) will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. That is found in Matthew 8:12.
Then who can make it to heaven? A 14 year old girl by the name of Kari asks this sincere question, ‘How can I know I am going to Heaven? She wrote, ‘I am 14 years old and I live in Oklahoma. I have grown up in a Christian home all my life and have always believed in God because I really had no choice. I attend a Christian school and I have attended it my whole life. But recently, some questions have come up in my life, and I was wondering if you could help me out. For the past 11 years I have believed in God, and that he is real. But I have never experienced him. I don’t hear him talk to me like other people say they do. I talk to him, but my words seem to bounce off the ceiling and hit me in the face. If God is real, then how come he won’t talk to me? How come I haven’t experienced him? And lastly, If I were to die today, I’m not sure where I would go. I know I have prayed the prayer many a times, but I’m just not sure. I wish I could say I knew for sure, but I cant. I’m confused and I want to be sure, even if it’s that I’m going to die and turn into nothingness. I would rather know for a fact that my fate is eternally suffering than be confused and not know at all. How can a prayer get me into heaven?
Billy Graham gave this powerful answer. ‘We can never be saved because of what we do; we can only be saved because of what Jesus Christ has already done for us. Let me explain. Our greatest problem can be put in one word: sin. Sin cuts us off from God, and sin also keeps us out of heaven. But how can we get rid of our sins? We can’t erase them or cause them to disappear by ourselves; we don’t have the power. The only way we can get rid of our sins is for someone to come along and take them away for us.
And that is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us. We are weighed down by the burden of our sins—but Jesus took that burden upon Himself when He died on the cross for us. To put it another way, He took the punishment we deserve when He went to the cross in our place. The Bible says, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). What must you do? Simply believe that Christ has taken away your sins, and then receive Him into your heart and life. The Bible’s promise is for you: “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Become God’s child today by asking Christ to come into your life.
Some of you here you really need to once and for all, give your life to Jesus. If you mean it with your heart, than I am going to ask God to break that powerful of habitual sins in your life. A new power will come upon you and from today’s onward you just want to obey God and live for God. You need a powerful encounter or a touch from God.