How do we know if we will spend eternity in Heaven?

I grew up in a Christian home. As I was growing up, I was taught how to “be saved” in order to spend eternity in heaven with God. However, sometimes I doubted that I was really saved. When I was in college, I started reading large portions of the Bible, determined to settle this issue once for all. As I read, I noticed a single word that kept recurring over and over again. After several weeks of seeing this word over and over, I became firmly convinced that I will spend eternity in heaven, and I have not had  doubts since. The word I kept seeing is the word “believe”.

The Bible first uses the concept of belief in Genesis as it is telling us about Abram. We are told that Abram believed God. His belief is an illustration of the belief we need to have in order to spend eternity in heaven.

When the Bible first mentions Abram, we are told that Abram and Sarai were childless.

Gen. 11:29-30 Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. Sarai was barren; she had no child.

Even though Abram and Sarai were childless, Yahweh promised that Abram would become a great nation.

Gen. 12:1-2 ¶ Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation,

How old was Abram when this promise was made?

Gen. 12:4 ¶ So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Chart of ages when son was born.Abram was 75 years old. Even though people lived longer in Abram’s day, 75 was still somewhat old. Consider the age of Abram’s father and grandfather when they became fathers.

Gen. 11:24-26 ¶ Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and became the father of Terah; and Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he became the father of Terah, and he had other sons and daughters. Terah lived seventy years, and became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

Abram’s father was 70 when he became a father, and Abram’s grandfather was 29 when he became a father. If men were fathering children as young as age 29, then at age 75 Abram surely must have started thinking that he was getting too old to father a child.

Genesis 13 tells us of a second occasion when Yahweh promised Abram that he would have descendants.

Gen. 13:14-16 ¶ The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.  “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.

Then we come to Genesis 15. Yahweh once again made a promise to Abram. Put yourself in Abram’s shoes. What might he have been thinking when he heard this promise?

Gen. 15:1 ¶ After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”

The natural human response might have been to doubt because God kept making promises but nothing changed. How did Abram respond to this promise?

Gen. 15:2 Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

Gen. 15:3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”

Abram pointed out that he was childless and asked what Yahweh could possibly give him. What was Yahweh’s answer?

Gen. 15:4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”

Gen. 15:5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

Once again Yahweh told Abram he would have an heir. In fact, He promised that Abram would have descendants too numerous to count. Now read Abram’s reaction to this promise. Notice the word “believed” and the word “righteousness”. Notice also that the word “LORD” is in all capital letters.

Gen. 15:6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

The word “LORD” is in all capitals letters because the Hebrew word that is used here is “Yahweh”, God’s personal name. Despite the years of being childless, Abram believed Yahweh when Yahweh told Abram he would have descendants too numerous to count. Because Abram believed Yahweh, Yahweh credited Abram with righteousness. Abram’s belief resulted in righteousness.

Now let’s look at some more verses where the word “believe” is used. What is the result of belief in the following verses? Notice the words “belief”, “eternal”, and “righteousness”.

John 3:14-16 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 5:24 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Rom. 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; Rom. 10:10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Just as Abram believed God and was credited with righteousness, so too if we believe we are credited with righteousness and will receive eternal life.

When I was trying to settle this question for myself and noticed how often the word “believe” is used in the Bible, I asked myself if I believe. I realized that for as long as I could remember, I had believed in Jesus, and that settled the question once for all. From that time till today, I have not doubted that I will spend eternity in heaven with God.

Do you have doubts about whether or not you will go to heaven? If so, consider the following questions.

  • Do you believe in Jesus?
  • Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?
  • Have you confessed Jesus as Lord (master)?

If the answer is yes, then you will go to heaven because belief is the key to righteousness and eternal life.


Further Reading

Is the Bible True?

How do we prepare to meet God?

How do we know that God exists?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”