Pastor Mike Gendron wrote a book called, "Preparing for Eternity". The promotional for the book reads as follows:
"If you're like most individuals, you look forward to your vacation. Many will take great effort to consider a destination the family will enjoy. What to do? Where to stay? What highways to take to get there? Sadly, most people spend more time planning their one week vacation than they do preparing for eternity. The Bible says our life is but a vapor. None of us has the promise of tomorrow and our eternal destiny is sealed at death."
Are you prepared for eternity? Many think they are, but are they really?
I was watching the Pixar movie Ratatouille with my boys when I noticed an interesting answer by the character Linguini, to a question regarding the death of his mother. He said, "She believed in Heaven, so she's covered... you know, afterlife-wise?" This is a typical belief by many in our world today. This comment by Linguini brings up a good question, is "sincerity" enough? Is that all it takes to go to heaven, a "sincere" belief? There have been many "sincere" people throughout history, but sincerity does not necessarily make right. One can be completely sincere, yet completely wrong, sincerely wrong.
Pastor Randy Alcorn, author of the popular book “Heaven” answers the question: Is sincerity enough?
"I think sincerity certainly does count for something. But I also believe it counts for less than we think it does. In a hospital, there are situations where a doctor or nurse injects a medication sincerely believing it will bring healing that ends up being fatal. Certainly we would all feel worse if we found out that they were not sincere and were actually trying to kill their patient. But the fact they were sincere is not a great consolation when you realize the consequences.
The same is true when it comes to Scripture. There are sincere people, for instance, who don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. I know there’s people who sincerely believe that. But what did Jesus say? 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me' (John 14:6). We’re told in Acts 4:12 that neither is there any other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. We must come into a relationship with Christ to spend eternity with Him."
If you were to die today and God were to ask you, "Why should I allow you into my heaven?", what would you say? Most people answer this question by stating "because I'm a good person." I already explained why sincerity is not enough. So why is being a good person not enough to get you to heaven?
Got Questions Ministries, a respected Christian online ministry, answers the question:
[The Bible says:] Because no one is a “good” person; there is only one who is good, and that is God Himself [Mark 10:18]. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible also says that the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23a). We learn that, while we were in our sinful state, Christ died for the unrighteous (Romans 5:8).
[The Bible says:] [...] if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). This salvation in Christ is a precious gift and it is nothing that we can earn through our good works (Romans 6:23b "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”; Ephesians 2:8–9 “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.”). The message of the gospel is that we can never be good enough to get to heaven. We must recognize the fact that we are sinners who daily fall short of God’s glory, and we must obey the command to repent of our sins and place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who alone was good enough to earn heaven, and who gives that merit to those who believe in His name.
Simply put, salvation is not based on anything good that we have done, but solely on the basis of what Christ has done. All the other religions require that you work your way to heaven, paradise, nirvana, etc. Where they say "Do!", Christianity says "Done!"
Pastor Chuck Swindoll writes in his devotional "Walk with Jesus: A 40-Day Journey to the Cross and Beyond":
"With Jesus' last breath on the cross, He declared the debt of sin canceled, completely satisfied. Nothing else required. Not good deeds. Not generous donations. Not penance or confession or baptism or ...or ...or ...nothing. The penalty for sin is death, and we were all born hopelessly in debt. [Jesus] paid our debt in full by giving His life so that we might live forever."
We owed a debt we could not pay, and Christ paid a debt He did not owe. But He did it. He did it all, for you and for me. He did it because He loved us! "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
In the years, months, and even weeks before my mom died, we had many conversations about God, the Gospel, heaven and hell. She told me that she understood the Gospel. She was not trusting in good works (or "sincerity") to save her, simply repentance and faith in Christ alone.
The Sunday before mom died, I called her in her Hospice room. The nurse held the phone up to her ear. I read some verses from the Bible and prayed with her one last time. I told her thanks for putting up with a stubborn kid like me, that I loved her and that I would see her in heaven one day.
After she went to be with the Lord, I posted this on Facebook:
"My mom went to be with the Lord today. Thanks to everyone for their prayers. I know that she is in heaven with Jesus (1 John 5:11–13; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8) and that she's more alive now than she ever was -- no more sickness, pain, tears (Revelation 21:4) -- only joy and peace! Hallelujah!"
"God, I know that as a Christian I will see my mom again one day. Please give her a hug and a kiss for me in the meantime. Amen."
The Christian has the assurance of eternal life. When a Christian dies, he or she is ushered immediately into the presence of the Lord. For the believer in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
"And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:11-13)
I have it on the authority of the Bible, that true believers (meaning those who have repented of their sins and are trusting in Christ alone), when they die, go directly to heaven to be with God. I believe that's where my mom is today. I will be there one day, too. The question is: will you be there?
-See: Going to Heaven - how can I guarantee my eternal destination?