Five Facts Leading to Eternal Life…
American humorist Josh Billings said, “I’d rather know a few things for certain, than many things that just ain’t so!” Today we live in very uncertain times and we’ve discovered that people are looking for something certain. At Grace Bible Church we have decided to stick to the basic essential facts of the Bible that the Christian Church is here to proclaim. We are convinced that it is only through these facts that we can know we have Eternal Life
(This booklet is published by Grace Bible Church of Tulsa, Oklahoma for free distribution. Contents are taken from Evangelism Explosion, Inc. (P. O. Box 23820, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33307) and Discipleship Evangelism (Grace Community Church, 13248 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley, CA 91352).
Question: Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you can say for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?
The Bible says, These things have I written unto you…that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13) That is, God wants us to know for sure that we have Eternal Life!
Question: Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say?
That’s a tough question, isn’t it? What do you think you would say? What would you tell someone who wanted to go to heaven? In this brief booklet we want to share with you five facts from the Bible on how we can know for sure that we have eternal life.
1. Heaven is a Free Gift Not Earned or Deserved! Almost sounding too good to be true, the Bible teaches that Heaven is a Free Gift. Scripture says…
“For by grace (i.e., unmerited favor; something not earned but given anyway) are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
That’s hard to understand, because we’ve been brought up thinking that nothing in life is free; there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But God says heaven is a free gift! (For example, if I were to give you my watch as a gift and you paid me for it, would it still be a gift? No, it wouldn’t. That’s the nature of a gift – you can’t pay for it or it is not a gift anymore. It is the same way with God’s offer of the free gift of heaven. You can’t pay God for it. It is a free gift!) The Bible also says, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life. (Rom. 6:23) Yes, heaven is a gift Not Earned or Deserved. Nobody earns the free gift of eternal life(2). God’s Word says…
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:5)
It’s not according to our good works; it’s according to His mercy! The fact that none of us deserves heaven can be seen more clearly when we understand what the Bible says about man.
2. We are Sinners & Cannot Save Ourselves!
The Bible teaches that Man is a Sinner. Sin is anything that is contrary or opposed to God in word, thought, or deed. As matter of fact sin may be things we should have done but didn’t, things we should not have done but did, or even things we thought of which we shouldn’t. All three are sins, as they are contrary or opposed to God, and all of us have been guilty of them. The Bible says…
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23). There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one. (Rom. 3:10-12) For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. (Eccl. 7:20)
God says, the wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23a) Anything contrary or opposed to God in word, thought, or deed deserves death! (For example, suppose you sinned only three times a day. You would practically be a walking angel! Imagine if no more than three times a day you thought an unkind thought, lost your temper, or failed to do what you ought toward God and man. You would be a pretty good person wouldn’t you? Even if you were that good, you would still have over 1,000 transgressions each year! Multiply that by your own age and you have thousands of violations of the Law of God on your record. Think what would happen to an habitual offender in a criminal court with that many crimes on his record! Yes, man is a sinner and hence, he cannot save himself.). And because man has opposed God and fallen short of God’s glory, we can see why Man Cannot Save Himself because he cannot do good continually. God’s standard is perfection, as the Bible says:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) Be ye holy, for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16)
Because God’s standard is perfection, man as a sinner cannot save himself. He always falls short of God’s standard! (For example, imagine that all mankind is lined up on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Due to a forest fire, we all have to jump across the canyon to save ourselves. The Olympic record holder might jump twenty-nine feet while others would jump only fifteen or twenty feet. I might jump seven or eight feet and physically handicapped would jump and tumble over the edge, but all of us would end up dead at the bottom of the canyon. There’s a similar gap between man and God. Some people try to jump across that gap by living a good life. They even look down on some people who are not living as good a life as they are. But the Bible says, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (cf. Rom. 3:23), so you see no one can cross the gap to God by their own good life!) As a matter of fact the Bible even warns those who think they can be good enough to save themselves, when it says…
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov. 14:12)
The fact that man is a sinner and cannot save himself comes into sharper focus when we look at what the Bible says about God.
3. God is Loving, Merciful, Holy & Just
The Bible teaches that God is Loving and Merciful. One passage in the Bible says, He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8) That is, not only does God love, but He does so because He is love; His very nature is love. Another passage speaks of His nature being shown towards people: I have loved thee with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3) And because God is loving and merciful, He doesn’t want to punish us.
The Bible teaches also that God is Holy and Just. The infinite God is not only infinite in His love, but infinite in His justice. That means, He is always perfect justice. The Bible says, God will by no means clear the guilty. (Exod. 34:7) You see, because God is loving and merciful, He doesn’t want to punish us; because God is holy and just, He must punish sin! (For example, suppose someone were to burglarize your home and the police caught him in the act. When the burglar is brought before the court, the judge asks, “How do you plead?” The burglar is guilty and the evidence is undeniable, so he responds. “I am guilty, your Honor, but I’m very sorry. You have the possessions back and no one was hurt. I promise that I will never rob another home if you will just let me go.” Would the judge be just if he let him go? No, he has a standard of justice that must be satisfied. God is just and demands an inflexible penalty for violation of His Law!) God promises, Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. (Psalm 89:32) And further, the Bible warns, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:31)
This presents a problem doesn’t it? Because God is loving and merciful He doesn’t want to punish us, but because God is holy and just He must punish sin. How can both these characteristics of God be satisfied? Well, the Bible teaches that God solved this problem that we caused in an amazing way, by sending Jesus Christ into the world.
4. Who is Jesus & What Did He Come to Do?
The message of the Gospel (lit., good news) is the story how God Himself satisfied His infinite love and infinite justice, by sending Jesus Christ into the world. And the Bible places unusual emphasis on who Jesus Christ was. God doesn’t want us to miss this! And basically makes two major statements about Him.
First, the Bible teaches that Jesus was a Man. In the New Testament He was born of a woman, grew and matured as a child into an adult. As an adult He got hungry, tired, was angry, happy, and finally died. All of these prove He was a man. Now this point usually is easily accepted by everyone, even secular historians living during the first century record that there was an unusual man named Jesus of Nazareth, who attracted many followers by a distinctive life and powerful teaching. As the Bible puts it…
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1:1, 14)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6)
But the second statement made is the pivotal fact upon which the Gospel rests. For the Bible teaches also that Jesus is God. In the New Testament He performed miracles that only God can perform, exercised characteristics that only God could express, and was called by names that only God can be entitled. And clearest of all, He raised Himself from the dead, an act of magnitude that no creature could accomplish! He predicted that He would be crucified in Jerusalem and get up out of the grave three days later. Jesus Himself claimed He was God. These are the two major statements emphasized in the Bible concerning who Jesus Christ is.
This leads us to what Jesus Christ did. The good news is how God’s love was satisfied and His justice upheld by the great transaction of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Remember we mentioned that all of us are sinners and no man can save himself? As the Bible says, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. We’ve not followed God’s way, but like disobedient sheep have turned to our own way. And the rest of that verse reads, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:6) God put our sins on His Son when He died on the cross. The Bible tells us that God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21) This makes it possible for us to be free from the load and the guilt of our sin. This is the heart of the Gospel or good news…
Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:3.4)
God has satisfied His love for us personally and His justice against sin by sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world to pay the price for our sins and to demonstrate God’s love for us. In the wisdom of God, He crafted a plan that would allow His love and justice to both be expressed in a perfect way, toward guilty men and women. Jesus became our substitute, taking our penalty of the broken Law. As man and God, Jesus Christ by His death and physical resurrection paid for our sins and purchased a place in heaven for us, which He offers as a gift which may be received by faith. (Back when Vikings terrorized the seas, there arose a great leader. He was wise, strong, just and cared for his people. Early in his reign someone began stealing from the treasury and the King made a decree throughout the nation that the person caught stealing would receive ten lashes. No one confessed, so the King extended it to twenty lashes, thirty, forty and finally fifty. Finally, the person was caught and it turned out to be the King’s own mother! Now the King loved his mother very much and was deeply grieved over her actions. However, he was also a just King who knew that evil must be punished. The King was faced with a difficulty: would his love allow his mother to go free or his justice allow the lashes to no doubt kill his aged mother? The entire nation came to see what the King would do. The King ordered his mother tied to the stake and before the first lash was given, he stepped behind his mother and took the lashes on his own back. Therefore he satisfied his love for his mother by protecting her from the punishment she deserved and his justice, which demanded the sentence be carried out. In this same way God has satisfied His love for us personally, and His justice, by sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world to pay the price for our sins and to demonstrate God’s love for us.)
5. What is Genuine Saving Faith?
The reception of eternal life by faith is critical to understand. The Bible teaches that Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6). But before we talk about what faith is, let’s be clear on What Faith is Not. Some people have what we may call temporal faith. An example of this is trusting God for a safe plane trip or help on an exam. This is simply temporary faith, and although legitimate for trips and tests, is not legitimate for receiving eternal life. Faith is not temporary.
Faith also, in the Biblical definition, is not mere intellectual belief. This is where the majority of people get mixed up in our American culture as they mistakenly view faith as simple mental acceptance of something. In the realm of one’s spiritual relationship and the reception of eternal life by faith, most Americans simply give mental acceptance to the facts that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose from the dead the third day. Now although these points of the good news are true, mental acceptance of these truths is not what the Bible means by faith. As a matter of fact, the Bible warns that, the demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19) That is, demons or devils have a mental acceptance of the facts of the Gospel and the judgment coming on those who reject it, and shudder because of it. Obviously they are not saved! They have not received the gift of eternal life, by mere mental acceptance of facts.
So if the Biblical definition of faith is not temporary faith or mere mental acceptance of the facts, What is Faith? According to the Bible there are two features of true genuine saving faith. The first feature is that it involves trusting in Jesus alone for salvation. It is depending and resting entirely upon Him for eternal life. Faith is the hand that accepts God’s gift. For by grace you have been saved through faith. According to the Bible, God says to receive eternal life you must transfer your trust from yourself to Christ. This is the first feature of true faith. The second feature of true faith has to do with its response, which is the desire to obey Him. In fact, the concept of obedience is so clearly tied to faith that the Bible often uses the terms faith and obedience interchangeably. For instance, one passage reads…
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36 NAS)
True Biblical faith is committing yourself to a lifelong relationship of obedience to Christ as Lord of your life. (For example, faith is the key that opens the door to heaven. You could have a key ring with several keys on it, many of which look somewhat alike. But only one will open the door to your house. The right key to heaven is called faith, which will open the door to eternal life.) We receive the gift of eternal life by receiving the Person of Jesus Christ. (John 1:12) This reception of Jesus Christ involves five areas of our lives.
1.) We Repent of Our Sins. To repent means to understand, acknowledge, and turn from our sins. That is, to understand our sins from God’s perspective, as violations of His righteous and perfect will, and to turn away from anything that is contrary to God in word, thought, or deed.
2.) We Acknowledge Jesus as God and Receive Him as Our Personal Savior. This involves believing with our heart that He died for our sins and rose from the grave, in order that the justice of God might be satisfied when the love of God toward us is expressed, that we may have eternal life.
3.) We Take Jesus Christ as our Master and Lord. This means we dedicate our lives to His glory and seek to live obediently to His sovereignty; it means we realize that He can guide our lives better than we can; it means we turn the control of our lives over to Him without reserve.
4.) We Stop Trusting in Ourselves and Our Own Good Works and Place Our Trust in God. As we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, repenting of our sins, and dedicate our lives to His control, we no longer trust in our own goodness. We cast ourselves in total abandoned dependence upon God, and reject our own self-sufficiency.
5.) We Receive Jesus Christ into Our Lives by Personal Invitation. Jesus confronts us to make a personal life changing commitment to Himself. He says…Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will fellowship with him, and he with me. (Rev. 3:20 KJV)
So, to receive the gift of eternal life by receiving Jesus Christ involves: receiving Jesus as our personal Savior, turning from our sins, to follow our new Lord and Master, who we now trust instead of ourselves, by way of personal invitation by inviting Him into our hearts. This is what it means to receive Jesus Christ by faith.
Now that we have shared what it means to receive the free gift of eternal life through Jesus, would you like to receive this gift of eternal life now? This is the most important decision you will ever make in your life and many people find it helpful to begin their new relationship with the Lord by a personal prayer of commitment. Here is an example…
Jesus, I realize I’m a sinner and have been trusting the wrong things for eternal life, but now I repent of my sins and put my trust totally in you. I realize you died to remove my sins on the cross and rose again from the dead; I realize you are offering me eternal life as a gift because of what you have done for me; I take you as my personal Savior and Lord and Master over my life; help me to follow you in every area of my life; I accept your gift of eternal life. In your name I pray, Amen.
The Bible teaches that your act of sincere genuine faith results in obtaining eternal life and a new relationship with God…
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ] hath everlasting life. (John 6:47) And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:11-12) But as many as received Him (i.e., Jesus Christ) to them gave He power to become the children of God; even to them that believe on His name. (John 1:12)
What Should You Do Now?
Four essential helps will provide growth for your new life in Christ and allow you to be used of God to glorify Him and impact others for His kingdom…
1.) Begin Reading the Bible Each Day. Now that your sins are forgiven and you have new life through Jesus Christ, it is important that you feed that new life by reading the Bible. We suggest you start with the New Testament and read systematically at least 3 or 4 chapters each day. This way you will read through the entire Bible in one year! (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15; Joshua 1:8-9; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:11, 105)
2.) Begin Praying to God Each Day. Through the Bible God talks with us, and through prayer we talk with God. Believers pray to God not only when an emergency arises, but each day. (cf. 1 Thess. 5:16-18; Phil. 4:6-8; Matt. 6:9-14)
3.) Begin Sharing Your New Life with Others Each Day. Sharing your new life in Christ involves three important responsibilities: living a distinct Christ-like life before others, verbally sharing your faith with others and being baptized before others. (cf. Rom. 10:9-10; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Pet. 3:15; Matt. 28:19-20)
4.) Begin Fellowship with Other Believers Each Day. One of the key ways God strengthens our new life in Christ is when we build solid relationships with other believers. This involves consistent attendance in a Bible teaching local church but also the day-by-day fellowship with other godly people who will encourage, challenge and hold us accountable to live for the Lord Jesus Christ. (cf. Heb. 10:24-25; 3:12-13; Acts 2:42-47)