Previously we have seen that repentance is necessary to go to heaven. But the Bible tells us that repentance must be accompanied by faith. Paul says ‘I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus’ (Acts 20:21). But what is saving faith?
Firstly, faith means intellectually believing in something as true. Hebrews 11:1 says ‘faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ Therefore you can have faith in many things. For example, you can have faith that a chair will hold you when you sit – you are trusting in something you cannot be one hundred percent certain about. Yes, you can be certain about some things relating to the chair: it has four legs, has held you in the past and has no noticeable defects. But in the end there is an element of belief that the chair will hold you – you can’t be completely certain.
Secondly, faith involves more than an intellectual understanding, faith also involves a readiness to commit oneself. If you truly believe that the chair will hold you then you will be committed to sitting in it. If you say you have faith in the chair but are not prepared to sit, your faith is shown as invalid. Thus, faith is an intellectual believing in something as true and a readiness to commit oneself.
But what are you supposed to ‘believe in’ and ‘commit to’ in order to go to heaven? The answer is Jesus Christ. We need to believe in Jesus as he is revealed to us in the Bible: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him’ (John 3:36). And we need to be totally committed to serving him. Paul says: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Paul believes Christ died for him and he lives a life of faithful commitment to him. That is saving faith.
Do you have this saving faith? Do you believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he experienced the wrath of God on the cross for your sins and that he was raised to life? Are you ready to totally commit your life in obedience to him? Remember, if you do not have this saving faith, Jesus warns that God’s wrath remains on you for your sin.