Important life questions
I was in first-year high school when two missionaries, Miss Baning (a Filipino) and an American, went to our school and invited us to utilize their newly opened small library. It was open to the public and even available on Saturdays. They went from room to room to invite the students and to pray for the whole class.
During that time, I was religious and I thought I was already a Christian. I became the representative of my family in attending the Sunday Mass for two years. Within the second year, there was an increasing number of questions in my mind that no one could answer: Why were we praying to Mary and other saints? Aren’t we supposed to pray only to God, not to men? and several practices I couldn’t understand.
Second-year high school came and we were given a project wherein I needed books about scientific names of plants. I found the books I needed in the mini-library of the missionaries. The second time I visited, they shared about salvation through Christ. They asked me and two other students two questions:
The first question was — If you die today, do you know for certain that you will be with God in Heaven?
I said “I don’t know” because I thought saying yes would be too arrogant.
The second question was — If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” what would you say?
Because of good works, good works, good works…
Those were my answers but with great uncertainty within me because I admit that I frequently sin. So how can I really go to heaven? Miss Baning shared us the way to heaven.
How to know with certainty that you will go to Heaven?
We can know and be certain if we will be with God in Heaven. In 1 John 5:13, the Apostle John said: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Heaven is a free gift through God’s grace. The Bible says: The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. And because it’s a free gift, it is not earned or deserved. No amount of personal effort, good works, or religious deeds can earn a place in Heaven for you. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done; it is a free gift from God given to those who believe and trust in the finished work of Christ.
Man is a sinner. Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. We sin in thought, word or deed; we sin when we do what we shouldn’t do and not do what we ought to do. Whether minor or grave, sin is rebellion against God. Because of this, man cannot save himself. If you wanted to save yourself by good deeds, do you know how good you would have to be? Be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). God requires holiness. With such a high standard, no one can save himself.
God is merciful. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent. But the same Bible which tells us that God is love, also tells us that God is just and therefore must punish sin. He says “. . . (I) will by no means clear the guilty . . .” (Exodus 34:7). And “. . . the soul that sins, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4).
God made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him in the Person of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus? The Bible tells us clearly that He is the infinite God-Man. “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus). . . and the Word (Jesus) was God. And the Word (Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1,14). Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a sinless life, but while on earth, what did He do? He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave to purchase a place for us in Heaven. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him (Jesus) the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus Christ bore our sin in His body on the cross and now offers us eternal life (be with God in Heaven) as a free gift. This gift is received by faith.
Saving faith is not mere head knowledge, like believing certain historical facts. The Bible says that the devil believes there is one God, so believing that there is one God is not saving faith. Saving faith is also not mere temporal faith, that is, trusting God for temporary crises such as financial, family, or physical needs. Now these are good, and you should trust Christ for these, but they are not saving faith! Saving faith is TRUSTING in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. It means resting upon Christ alone and what He has done rather than in what you or I have done to get us into Heaven. “. . . Believe (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31).
It means that you need to:
- Transfer your trust
From what you have been doing to what Christ has done for you on His cross
- Accept Christ as Savior
Open the “door” to your heart and invite Him in.
He says: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears My voice, and open the door, I will come into Him . . . .” (Revelation 3:20)
- Receive Jesus Christ as Lord
Give Him the “driver’s seat” and “controls” of your life, not the “back seat.”
Confess and renounce your sins and turn to God.
Be willing to turn from anything that is not pleasing to Him. He will reveal His will to you as you grow in your relationship with Him.
— Gospel resources: Steps to Life. Evangelism Explosion International
Growing in a Bible-believing church
I willingly accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I took aside my former belief that good works can save a person. There’s only one way to heaven and that’s through Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior. I wrote that important decision in my small notebook together with the date. I had no spectacular feeling at that time. I continued my routine – pray and go to church. But more and more questions emerged and I didn’t know whom to ask for help.
Fourth-year came and it was almost our graduation, one of my classmates, Filamer, had comics about religion. It was about The Reformation, Martin Luther, and other major issues about my faith. I became more bewildered so I stopped going to church. For two months, I read the Bible starting from Genesis. It was very difficult for me to understand everything written in it because I felt that everything was new for me! All my life I had known God to be loving and forgiving but as I read the Bible intently for the first time, I was shocked! God’s image became “wrathful”. I was discouraged finding out that God took sides and meddled with the battles and wars in favor of the Israelites. I saw a different God.
College came and confusion still abounded. I phoned Charity, my schoolmate in high school, and shared with her some of my concerns. She told me about Laoag Fundamental Baptist Church where her dad serves as a pastor. She mentioned about the Adult Sunday classes where they could answer my questions. She didn’t explicitly invite me to attend but I invited myself to be in it.
That little church helped me know Christ more and more. I’m thankful that in times of my difficulties, they were with me. That’s why I consider the church, in general, my family. I thank God that through His church, I experience His love.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
A personal testimony of Jessica Mae Simon, sales executive at Ford Ilocos Norte. She is part of the Young Adults Bible Study Ministry at Laoag Fundamental Baptist Church.