Getting to heaven is as simple as A, B, C, and D.
How do you follow Jesus?
How can you be assured that you have the promise of heaven?
God has made it as simple as A, B, C, and D.
A—Admit that you have sinned and separated yourself from God. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Your chances of getting to heaven by being good are equal to your chances of swimming from California to Hawaii on your own strength.
We've all fallen short of God's glory.
Instead of comparing yourself to other people and smugly feeling like you're pretty good, compare yourself to God's law. Align yourself to the Ten Commandments and realize you've broken—I've broken—most one of them. We've fallen short. Romans 3:20 says, "No one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."
I must humbly admit I am a sinner; I am in need of God's forgiveness; I am hopelessly lost unless the Lord acts.
B—Believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Would you all repeat John 3:16 with me? "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
To believe is more than just a mental agreement: "Yes, he's the Son of God." It's putting your faith in his death on the cross to save you—and not in your good works. It's humbly trusting him, swallowing your pride, and not trusting in yourself.
The Bible says, in Ephesians 2, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not of yourselves … not of works, so that anybody should boast."
Admit you're a sinner, believe in Jesus, and C—confess Jesus as the Lord of your life. Romans 10:9 says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved." When Jesus Christ died for us, he died publicly on a hill outside the big city of Jerusalem on the busiest day of the year.
He asks that when we make a decision to follow him, we confess him publicly, unashamedly. The Bible calls it our good confession. We don't have to confess our sins, but we confess the good truth that we believe in Jesus.
When you become a Christian, God asks that you state publicly your allegiance to Christ. In Matthew 10:32 Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven."
Admit that you're a sinner, believe in Jesus as your personal Savior, confess him publicly,
and D—demonstrate your allegiance to Christ by repenting of sin and being baptized into Christ. Acts 2:38 says, "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Repentance means you change directions. You've been living for selfish pleasure; now you live for God's will. It doesn't mean you're going to live a perfect life from this point on, but it means you changed your direction from following the crowd to following Christ. Baptism then becomes your benchmark, the dividing line between the old life of sin and the new life resurrected with Christ.
Listen to what Romans 6 says:
Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
Don't let your heart be troubled; trust in Christ. Nothing is going to happen to you in the darkness that the two of you can't handle together. Put your hope in heaven; you're not home yet, but there's a place reserved in heaven for you where there are many rooms. And follow Christ. Be confident that you're going there—not because you're trusting in your goodness, but because you're trusting in the perfect work of Jesus' death for you on the cross, and you believe that he is the way, he's the truth, he is the life.
Pastor Paul Leavens - Minister - Christian Church in Lindsay, CA