Have you ever wondered if you are really going to end up in heaven after you die?
How can we know, I mean REALLY KNOW, that we are right with God and on our way to heaven?
The Bible tells us about a man named Nicodemus who had this same question.
We don’t know a lot about Nicodemus. We do know that he was a religious man and a ruler of the Jews. He had tried to live a good life.
Nicodemus wondered, though, if living a good life was enough to get him into heaven. How much did he have to do to really KNOW that he had pleased God and made up for his sins?
This question bothered Nicodemus so much that he went to Jesus at night to ask Him.
Jesus’ message to Nicodemus is shocking. Jesus told Nicodemus that eternal life or life in heaven with God was not something that Nicodemus could earn. Instead, it was given freely to those who believe in Jesus as their Savior.
You see, we are all sinners. God is holy and just. He cannot allow any sin to enter His presence. That means that every time you and I sin, every time we tell a tiny “white” lie, allow our hearts to be filled with pride, or become angry, we have sinned and deserve hell.
We try to impress God with our “good works”, but all of our “good works” are corrupted by sin and appear as filthy rags before God.
We are in a hopeless, helpless state.
There is no way that we can ever work our way to heaven.
That is why God sent Jesus, His very Son and equal with God, to live a perfect sinless life in our place. Then, Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment of our sins onto Himself.
When we acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves and instead trust in Jesus and His work on the cross, God washes our sins away. We can stand justified before God because of Jesus’ righteousness.
This doesn’t mean that we do not struggle with sin. Oh, we do! But our hearts have changed. The Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts and changes our desires. We long to do what is right. We long to obey God. We long to worship Him and follow Him.
The End of Nicodemus’ Story…
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. He didn’t really want people to know that he was a follower of Jesus. In fact, Nicodemus did not openly follow Jesus for several more years (John 7:40-53).
But, Jesus was at work, changing Nicodemus’ heart. When Jesus was crucified, Nicodemus bravely stepped forward and identified himself publicly as a follower of Jesus Christ (John 19:38-42).
The best part of this story is that Jesus didn’t stay dead! He rose again on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of God, praying for His people and preparing a forever home for us in heaven.
And Nicodemus? When he was helpless in his sins, Jesus died in Nicodemus’ place in order to make him right with God. Nicodemus is in heaven now, experiencing the love and peace of His Savior, Jesus Christ.
How about you? Are you still trying to figure out what this all means? Are you trying to be “good enough” to get to heaven on your own? Or, are you ready to rest fully on Jesus’ work on the cross for your salvation?
What do we need to do to be saved?
1. We need to agree with God that we are sinners and that we cannot save ourselves.
2. We need to put our faith in Jesus as our Savior.
3. We need to follow Jesus and grow in our Christian lives, by the strength of the Holy Spirit.
If you are ready to become a follower of Jesus, pray and let Him know. Tell God that you know that you are a sinner and that you are placing your hope for salvation not on your own works but on the work of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you to grow in Him.
God will help you to grow as you read the Bible and pray. You will also want to find a church where you can study God’s Word with other Christians.
If you have any questions, need any help, or would like some support in your decision, please scroll down and comment on this post. If you don’t want your comments to become public, let me know and I will respond to you directly.
Your article has meant a lot. Thank you!
Thank you for this article.
As a Christian of over two decades, I was excited to see this blog title come up in my inbox – because isn’t it surprising how many of us ponder this question throughout our Christian walk. It was definitely an encouraging read and I love your passion for sharing the Lord!
As a sister in Christ, I would like to humbly submit some Scriptures/thoughts for your consideration. I loved how you used Nicodemus as an example and I notice something that used to be commonly understood but now seems to have fallen out of Western Church vogue 🙂 Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born of water and spirit. In the first centuries of the church, Christians understood Jesus to be speaking of baptism in water. For whatever reason, God seems to have chosen that moment in time to be the deal sealer. Peter echoed these sentiments at the inception of the church – the first time the eternal question was post post-resurrection (at least, that we know of) when the convicted Jews asked, “What shall we do?” Peter’s response? “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) Just a couple of verses later we see Peter urging these men to “save yourselves from this corrupt generation!” How do they do that? The next verse says that those who received Peter’s word were baptized. Here these people who believed Peter’s message of the Christ had more to do. The Biblical response to the gospel call for those who believe it is to repent and be baptized. That appears to be the point at which we’re saved from “this corrupt generation.” (I know!! I promise, I know. Modern theology calls this “baptismal regeneration” and heresy…but, sister, I encourage you – even plead with you – to look at God’s Word without the filter of man’s wisdom. I suspect you may be surprised at what you find.) Throughout Acts there is much on the topic, as I’m sure you know but if you’re short on time, Acts 22:16 is amazing. Here, believing, repentant Saul is told to quit stalling and be baptized to wash away his sins. The first part of Romans 6 is also amazing teaching. Of course, the vast number of Scriptures that teach this are actually surprising to us today: Galatians 3:26, Colossians 2:10-12,Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21, Ephesians 5:26 along with John 3 and the many references in Acts…but also our Lord’s own commands:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-2o)
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15b-16)
[As an aside, David Bercot wrote an incredible book called Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up that I encourage you to consider reading. His personal background leading up to the book is fascinating, but the nutshell is that, as an Anglican Priest (at the time) he decided to learn what the earliest Christians believed. He was so disturbed by it he put their writings down and quit reading them. Eventually he determined to read the writings and this book was born. The book gives the beliefs of the earliest post-apostle Christians on topics near and dear to us today – but for a topic to be represented in the book, 1) ALL early Christian writers who mentioned the subject must express the same view; and 2) at least five early Christian writers, separated by time or geographical distance, had to discuss the subject. As you can see, his bar was very high – but what he found was that the early Christians believed things much differently than much modern theology teaches. The author also points out the Scriptures these early Christians based their understanding on. Anyway, if you’re interested in having your theological world rocked in a good way, I recommend the book. As he points out, who are we to believe had a better understanding of authentic Christianity: the Christians who knew the apostles and were taught by them or theologians living 1500-2000 years later?]
Okay, I apologize for the ridiculously long comment. As a fellow Christ-lover, I have a passion not only for God’s Word, but for other Christians. I assure you, I wouldn’t leave such a crazy comment on an issue that wasn’t essential, but I think Scripture indicates this one is and I felt compelled to encourage you to take a closer look at God’s Word on this topic.
May the Lord bless you in your studies – and thank you for your passion in writing this post!
Thank you for your thoughts, Shawnele. Baptism is an important topic, and I am glad that you brought that up. May God bless you!
Thank you, Anna. And you as well!
I have known the Lord for 24 years now, and have read these verses over and over. But today as I paused I found them especially sweet and refreshing. I have been cautioned in my reading of God’s word not to “forget my first Love”…your post is a good reminder. I’m sure the post was intended primarily for those new to their walk with the Lord, but today it touched me too. God’s word truly is alive. Thank you for this ministry.
Oh, Patty, this story never gets old, does it? I look forward to rejoicing in and marveling about the Gospel story for all of eternity! Thank you for commenting. May God bless you.