How You Can KNOW You’re Going to Heaven

Susie and I had dinner with some long-time friends last week. As we neared the end of the evening one of them commented, “This is so good. Just think how great Heaven will be (If I get there).”

We all quickly countered our friend’s comment by assuring her she’d be in Heaven. She wrote off her comment to her “Catholic guilt.”

Now that your letter is well advanced and you have identified the needs of your future employer, it is time to promise results. Show the employer that you are ready to take up the challenges that they will present to you and that you will be able to solve them as well as your previous projects. You must also complete your letter or just hire a writer with words "write my essay please" in order to request to be received for an interview. The cover letter is a little badly named. It is not really a question of introducing yourself personally in this letter, but rather of arousing the employer's interest for you. And the best way to show him that you are the best person for the job is to demonstrate your full understanding of the needs and that you are able to fulfill them. In France, the cover letter is called a "motivation letter", which is ultimately much better suited as a term. Keep this in mind when you create your letter. Please do not use the letters you find online as is. Take them as inspiration and models, but always create a personalized letter for each position on which you apply. You will then be 1000 times more likely to be interviewed.

Guilt notwithstanding, I found her comment a little troubling. I wasn’t troubled so much for my friend, as she is a godly woman and a decades-long follower of Jesus. She knows her eternity is secure. But it troubled me for many other Christ-followers who still struggle with the question of their eternal destiny.

The Bible pulls no punches on this topic. As God’s children, we are supposed to rest assured in the fact that Heaven is our home and that Jesus is coming to get us. 1 John 5:13 says, “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.”

So, let’s talk about it. Let me list ten things (I could list dozens more) that are true about you if you’re a Christian:

  • You’ve been born again (or born from above). Jesus also called this second birth being “born of the Spirit,” John 3:1-8. It’s a gift of God, and it’s irreversible.
  • You’ve been sealed or marked by the Holy Spirit, Eph 1:13-14. He basically seals you as his property, his prized possession.
  • You’ve been adopted as God’s son or daughter, Rom 8:15. Paul based his theology of adoption on Roman culture. It was a permanent act that gave full benefits and rights of the family to the adoptee.
  • Your spirit has been made eternally alive, Eph 2:1-5. Your eternal life begins the moment the eternal Holy Spirit takes possession of you.
  • You’ve been saved by God’s grace, which means you didn’t earn it. It’s a free gift, Eph 2:8-9. Do the math, if you can’t earn it you can’t lose it.
  • You’re seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms, Eph 2:6. You’ve got a seat at his table, and he won’t give it away.
  • You’ve been forgiven of all your sins, Col 2:13. God’s forgiveness makes you holy, and thus qualified for Heaven.
  • You’ve been washed and made holy by Jesus’ blood, 1 Cor 6:11. What God declares holy, no man can make unholy.
  • Jesus is preparing a place (house) for you in Heaven, John 14:1-3. And, he’ll come and get you when it’s ready.
  • You’re a completely new creation, 2 Cor 5:17. A new creation with a new identity and a citizenship in Heaven.

With all of this going for us, how can we ever doubt that our eternity is secure?

Friend, get used to the biblical truth that your salvation is based on the eternal love and work of Jesus and not on any merits of your own. Once you cross the line of feeling like you need to earn God’s love and favor, accepting it for free (and the Heaven that comes with it) will be much easier for you.

Does that help? I’ll say more about this in future entries.

Living in the Land of Ambiguity

There stood Abram. He was established, rich, settled and very comfortable in his homeland of Ur. God stepped into all that comfort and wealth and basically said, “Let’s go.”

More specifically, he said, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you,” (Gen 12:1).

That’s not really a lot to go on. Imagine Abram trying to sell that to Sarah:

Abe: Honey, how do you feel about us moving?

Sarah: I’m not sure. To where?

Abe: I’m not sure, but God promised it’ll be really good.

Sarah: Wait. What?

Welcome to the adventure of following God. 

God’s interaction with Abraham isn’t unusual. The Bible has multiple accounts of God’s people being invited to follow him without having all the information. Think about the countless times in forty years the cloud over the Tabernacle moved and the Israelites picked up and followed it. Not once did God say where they were going, when they would arrive or how long they would be there.

When God called Susie and me to return to our hometown of Austin and start ACF, we didn’t get a lot of details. We felt the divine call of God, we sensed God’s promise of provision, but that was about it. We made a major life-altering and career-changing decision based on the little information we had from God.

It was a complete step of faith, and that’s exactly how God wanted it. 

If you’re walking with Jesus, you have to be prepared to live in the land of ambiguity. There’s no getting around it. Walking by faith, by its very nature, involves living with the vague.

God isn’t being mean or mischievous by withholding some of the details. Rather, there are Kingdom purposes in his methods. Here are just a few things God uses ambiguity to accomplish:

  1. It makes faith relational. God leads us through relationship. When you’re seeking your next steps in something, you have to press into him. You have to seek him. God told Israel to march around a city only one time–at Jericho. Every other city they took required a different strategy. And that required relationship.
  2. It keeps us from running ahead. Were God to give us the full download up front, we’d be tempted to skip some steps and run to the end. But in following Jesus, how you get somewhere is as important as getting there. The methods matter. God allows the ambiguous sometimes, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves, or him.
  3. It allows for God’s power. When we have to wait on God, we’re much more positioned to receive his miraculous provision. God waited to give Abraham and Sarah the son he had promised until it was humanly possible for them. That way his power would be obvious and he would get all the credit. Don’t fear when God’s plan appears to be ambiguous. Ambiguity is the breeding ground for the miraculous.

Sometimes following the Lord is like ordering from a restaurant menu that simply says “Food”. You know you’re getting something, you’re just not sure what. Don’t fret in the process and don’t panic when you don’t have all the details and can’t answer all the questions.

You don’t have to know everything.  Just trust that the one who does is good.

The Role of Faith in Knowing God

If you struggle with faith, this may encourage you.

People having to walk by faith was not part of God’s original plan. Adam and Eve, the original humans, had full access to God. They could see him, talk to him, walk with him. Their relationship was based on loving obedience to him.

Because they could see him, they didn’t need faith. The very nature of faith is believing in what you cannot see, in what you cannot prove. The original humans didn’t need a belief system–they had sight instead.

Genesis 3 changed all that. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost that wonderful and innocent access to God they had so taken for granted. Because they became sin-stained, they couldn’t be in God’s unfiltered presence.

Compare the scene in Exodus 19, when the Israelites were terrified of God’s flaming and thundering presence on the mountain, to the “walking with God in the cool of the day” access that Adam and Eve had known. The difference? Sin.

In a sight-based environment, faith isn’t required. Just obedience. That’s how God’s followers who could see and know him demonstrated their love–they did what he said.

But in a sin-based environment, one where God cannot be seen and access to him has been lost, faith is the most critical ingredient. Faith even precedes obedience in importance, because we don’t even know that we need to obey God until we believe in him.

Thus, in the Genesis 3 world, the world where everything is contaminated by sin, faith is the most powerful tool a person can have. Faith bridges the gap between the perfect worlds of Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22. Faith wasn’t necessary in the pre-sin world and it won’t be necessary in the post-sin world either. We won’t need faith in Heaven. Yea God.

But today, in the sin-filled world where access to God is by grace only, faith is everything. That’s why the writer of Hebrews told us that without faith it’s impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). We may not be able to see or prove God, but he still expects us to believe.

Pray for your faith level. Pray for God to deepen your understanding of him and his holy, mysterious ways. Pray for the courage to walk by faith. Read God’s Word so you can learn more about him.

And then, do whatever God tells you to do. Obedience is still the best way to grow your faith and to show your love for God.

 

 

Finding God in the Crisis

Recently my good friends Mary Anne and Trey Kent shared a significant piece of their marriage story at our church. The occasion was the 33rd anniversary of a fatal car wreck that forever changed their lives.

On August 5, 1985, just two weeks after they were married, the Kents were hit head on by a young woman who crossed over into their lane going 70 mph. She never braked.

The accident tragically killed her, left Trey pinned in the car with severe injuries and seriously injured Mary Anne. You can see the severity of the wreck in this picture of the Kent’s car.

But Trey and Mary Anne’s story wasn’t one of loss, but rather one of great victory. They actually shared that if they had the choice to do it all over again, they would. That’s how much God has redeemed, or over-redeemed, the accident.

In their message, which you can watch below, Trey and Mary Anne shared many of their learnings from walking out life after the wreck. Here’s some of what I wrote down in my journal during their talk:

  • God wants to turn your greatest tragedy into your greatest testimony
  • God’s strength is best perfected in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9)
  • Nothing is ever impossible with God (Luke 1:37)
  • Life’s difficulties teach you that Jesus is enough
  • We meet God best in our pain
  • You don’t overcome by being strong; you overcome by being loved
  • And, when you wake up in the middle of a crisis, Jesus is right there with you

Those are just a few of the amazing lessons Trey and Mary Anne shared. They also shared many miracles that God worked in and through the wreck. I’m so grateful for their story. It greatly encouraged me.

So have you been in a life-wreck recently? Is there debris scattered all about? Or, are you a wreck? Either way, God wants to meet you and love you in it.

Why don’t you go ahead and watch my friends’ message. I know it will greatly encourage you too.

Tragedy into Testimony from Austin Christian Fellowship on Vimeo.