A Christian lady phoned to ask if it was right for her to tell others that she knew she was going to heaven. She had begun to doubt it was right for her to say this to others because they might think she was bragging.
What Can We Know?
Does the Bible teach that we can know we are going to heaven? If so, what passage can be quoted to prove we can know? We may not be able to know we are going to heaven, but we can know we have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
How Can We Know?
The purpose of what John wrote, was so we can “know” we have eternal life. Our knowledge that we have eternal life is not based on emotions, a special testimony of the Holy Spirit, or an inner feeling. We can “know” based on what is written, for John wrote so that we may “know” we have eternal life
Preceding verse 13, John stated, “And this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He whow has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12). God gave testimony through the miracles He performed through Jesus (John 8:18; John 10:25; Acts 2:22), that through our believing in Him, based on what has been written concerning Jesus, we can “know” we have eternal life (John 20:30-31).
Eternal Life In Jesus
Our assurance of eternal life is because we can share the eternal life that is in Jesus. We can “know” we have eternal if we are “in Him”; the source of eternal life. Our entry into Jesus takes place through our faith and repentance when we are baptized “into Christ” (Romans 6:3; Gal. 3:27). Our having eternal life is dependent on our being “in Jesus” in whom is eternal life.
After we are baptized, we can “know” we are in Jesus if we keep His word (1 John 2:4-5). We can “know” we are in Jesus and have eternal life if we perfect our love for God by keeping His word and continuing in what was taught in the beginning years of Christianity (1 John 2:24-25).
Can We Lose Eternal Life?
As long as we are “in Jesus,” we will have the eternal life that is in Him. Our continuing to have eternal life, is dependent on our remaining “in Jesus.” Eternal life is not ours as a matter of a personal possession, but because of a relationship with Jesus. This can be compared with an electric current. As long as a cord is plugged into a live wall plug, the cord will have an electric current, but if it is unplugged, it will no longer have the live current available from the wall plug. After we are baptized into Jesus, as long as we remain in Jesus by keeping His word, we can “know” we are in Him and have the eternal life that is in Him.
If we fail to retain our relationship with Jesus, we will lose the eternal life that is in Him. Jesus taught this in His parable of the vine and branches. A branch will have life as long as it is in a vine, but if that relationship is severed, the branch will wither because it will no longer receive the life that is in the vine (John 15:6). As long as we are “in Jesus,” we will have the life that is “in Jesus.” Thus, we can “know” that we have eternal life.
What About Heaven?
If we could be sure we would remain “in Christ” until we die, we would “know” for certain we will go to heaven. Paul had to control the passions of his body to be sure he would not be cast away (1 Corinthians 9:27), and he wrote that those who think they stand, are to take heed lest they fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Peter assures us that if we develop the Christian virtues, we will never fall but will enter the everlasting kingdom (2 Peter 1:5-11).
Since no one can be sure he will always remain “in Christ” until death (Revelation 2:10), he cannot be absolutely certain he will go to heaven, but if we are “in Christ” as obedient followers, we can “know” that we have eternal life. As long as we continue to remain “in Jesus”, we are assured that heaven will be our eternal destiny.
If we, like Paul, fight the good fight, keep the faith, and finish the course, then we can say with the apostle in the hour of our departure from this world to a new and better world, “Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day” (2 Timothy 4:8 ESV).