When dear departed ones pass, a variety of
familiar phrases about being in heaven are often
offered in comfort;
'she's happier now in heaven'.

And we calm the unexplainable death of a
grandparent to a child with phrases like,
'It's
okay, Grandpa is in heaven'
.  Thoughts and
words spoken of an eternal peaceful heaven are
comforting in times of death.  For believers, we
are secure in the knowledge that heaven is our
eternal home.
However for some, although they even offer these comforting words, sadly their personal belief does not teach that they
can be secure in their final destination.  But, the Bible teaches that you can be assured, through your belief in Christ,
that you will have a place in heaven.
"For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and
believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that
you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with
your mouth that you are saved."
~Romans 10:9-11
A Gift

Though people may believe in God and heaven, but in contrast to the Bible, many teachings instruct that it's members
must work or earn their way to heaven through a series of good deeds over a course of a lifetime, and really, in the end
you still just don't know.  You hope and pray, yet you still aren't sure.  But for believers, salvation is a gift.
"God saved you by his special favor when you believed.  And
you can't take credit for this; it is a
gift from God.  Salvation is
not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us
can boast about it.  For we are God's masterpiece.  He has
things he planned for us long ago."
~Ephesians 2:8-10
"But God so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much,
that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave
us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by
God's special favor that you have been saved!)  For he
raised us from the dead along with Christ and we are seated
with him in the heavenly realms - all because we are one
with Christ Jesus."
 Ephesians 2:4-5
No Additives Needed

A study of what the Bible and what Christ teaches tells us how we can be sure of our place in heaven.  Many people may
see it as arrogance when Christians assert their certainty of their eternal home.  They look upon them with human and
mortal eyes and see perhaps a checkered past, a current bad habit - anything beyond the box they've created that
Christians must live in, and wonder just
how they could make such a claim! They do not see that person as God sees
them; saved through the blood of Christ.  We are instructed about this in 1 Samuel 16:7b:
"The LORD doesn't make
decisions the way you do!  People judge by outward appearances, but the LORD looks at a person's thoughts and
intentions."

Unfortunately, many doctrines don't teach that Christ's horrific crucifixion and His glorious resurrection were complete
enough to wash the sins of all believers; thereby insuring them of their eternal home.  They require what I call 'additives'.
Extra things to be added to the works of Christ; mortal deeds, witnessing, attendance; chanting, counting, whatever.  
And these are performed, in most cases, only to
enhance your chances of salvation.  There's never a guarantee.  And,
the irony of this doctrine is that they don't deny Christ's crucifixion or resurrection, they simply don't view it as a
totalitarian act for salvation.   The Scriptures don't say that Jesus takes away the sin of
part of the world or just part of
our sins, but
all.  
"Christ also suffered when he died for our sins once for all time."
Peter 4:18a
"Yet it was our weaknesses he [Jesus] carried; it was our
sorrows that weighed him down.  And we thought his troubles
were a punishment from God for his own sins!  But he was
wounded and crushed for our sins.  He was beaten that we
might have peace.  He was whipped, and we were healed!  All
of us have strayed away like sheep.  We have left God's paths
to follow our own.  Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins
of us all."
 ~Isaiah 53:4-6
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
"Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the
world!" "
~John 1:29
"He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was
raised from the dead to make us right with God."
~ Romans 4:25
"But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ
is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of
Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin."
~1 John 1:7
"There is salvation in no one else!  There is no other name in all
of heaven for people to call on to save them."
~Acts 4:12
Throughout the teachings of salvation we are assured that Christ bore all our sins, for once and for all.  And, if the Bible
tells us there is no salvation in
no one else, I can't imagine that there would be salvation or even enhanced chances in
any other thing or act or deed or future requirement.  If going to heaven required an evaluation of a lifetime of good
deeds and special rituals performed, the criminal on the cross next to Jesus wouldn't have had a prayer.  Luke 24:39-43
tell us:
This criminal must have lived such a life so horrible for his punishment to be death by crucifixion.  He obviously lived no
life performing good deeds or fulfilling requirements.  But at that moment, Christ knew this man's heart was true in his
complete belief in Him with the thief's simple and humble utterance,
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your
Kingdom."
  The gift of salvation comes from belief.  
Status Quo

Becoming a member of many clubs, sports teams, or even college fraternities and sororities involves fulfilling certain
requirements listed to obtain membership.  Do this, do that, check this off, check that off, and once it's complete you are
awarded member status.  Salvation doesn't come with a laundry list of requirements to be met, dutifully checked off,
properly presented, with hopes that you will meet all the requirements.  There is but one requirement to gain salvation,
and that is the belief in Christ as your personal Savior.  That's it.  Just one.  No need for a long sheet of paper to write
down a bulleted "to-do" list.  
"For anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
~Romans 10:13
Easy Street?

Some may suggest that this doctrine of salvation
is too simple.  As it would be too easy to just say
one believes and then hold onto your ticket to
heaven and live life as you like.  And, that
performing good deeds and any other required
'additives' are necessary for complete salvation.  
However, the Bible seems to teach the opposite.  

Good deeds done during a believer's lifetime
come from
being a believer (which bears the gift
of salvation), not from trying to
attain this status.

"He has created us anew in Christ
Jesus, so that we can do the good
things he planned for us long ago."
~Ephesians 2:8-10
When Christ dwells in your heart, you possess a genuine desire to love, help, teach, support, and uplift.  That's not to
say that non-believing people are incapable of performing acts of goodness and kindness.  Motives are abundant in a
variety of people. But, for Christians, we are motivated to model our conduct after Christ.  Though we know we cannot  
be Christ, we can express our love and faith in Him by attempting to conduct our lives in a Christ-like manner.  

Adherents to works-equals-salvation believe it takes a lifetime to determine if we go to heaven.  Hence, salvation is
based on your works, deeds, conduct, etc.  They ask how can such a guarantee be given that lasts until we die, even
when the best God-fearing person still has sin in their life.  

Yes, many Christians stumble and sin may creep into their lives.  Tripping up here and there, something in their lives
gone awry; the outside world judging that his ticket to heaven is no longer valid. If God did not think we would ever
stumble, there would be no need for His grace and mercy.  Whom would He dispense it upon?  I do not believe that God
carries a big eraser; writing in our names in the Book of Life when we're 'good' and erasing them when we're 'bad', then
writing them back in, only to. . . oh no. . .erasing them back out again.  

As true believers, He knows our hearts, our true commitment and belief.  He knows that we possess a genuine desire to
be the best we are so that we may serve Him in the best way we can, using the gifts He bestows upon each of us
individually.  Failures or stumbles in our lives can be used to remind of us of our dependency on God, to repent from
our wrongdoings and return to Him.  They can often become a compass to reset our sails, review our purpose, and set
our direction according to His Will.  We generally learn some of life's best lessons through tears and tough times than
smooth sailing and laughter.  
Bread of Life

John Chapter 6 tells us of the time when Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish.  Jesus
performed this miracle for a two-fold reason. First, to provide bread for the annual Passover celebration for the five
thousand who had gathered.  And second, He used the opportunity to teach the followers a very important lesson about
the bread of life.  The day after He fed the five thousand, the people gathered again to see Him.  From John 6:26-29:
"The truth is, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you saw the miraculous sign.
But you shouldn't be so concerned about perishable things like food.  Spend your energy seeking
the eternal life that I, the Son of Man, can give you.  For God the Father has sent me for that very
purpose."  

They replied, "What does God want us to do?"

Jesus told them,
"This is what God wants you to do:  Believe in the one he has sent."
However, the miracle still fresh in their minds from the day before, those who had gathered wanted more.  Their
response to Jesus' instruction to
believe in the one he has sent is:
John 6:30-34
"They replied, "You must show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you.  What will you
do for us?  After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness!  As the
Scriptures say, 'Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.' "

Jesus said,
"I assure you, Moses didn't give them bread from heaven.  My Father did.  And now he
offers you the true bread from heaven.  The true bread of God is the one who comes down from
heaven and gives life to the world."

"Sir," they said, "give us that bread every day of our lives."
Their request provides Christ an opportunity to teach completely regarding who he is and that belief in him provides
salvation.
John 6:35-58
"Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life.  No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again.  Those
who believe in me will never thirst.  But you haven't believed in me though you have seen me.  
However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.  For I have
come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do what I want.  And this is the
will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise
them to eternal life at the last day.  For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in
him should have eternal life - that I should raise them at the last day."

Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, "I am the bread from
heaven."  
They said, "This is Jesus, the son of Joseph.  We know his father and mother.  How can
he say, 'I came down from heaven?' "

But Jesus replied,
"Don't complain about what I said.  For people can't come to me unless the
Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them from the dead.  As it is
written in the Scriptures, 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who hears and learns from the
Father comes to me.  (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God,
have seen him.)

"I assure you, anyone who believes in me already has eternal life.  Yes, I am the bread of life!"  
Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.  However, the bread from heaven
gives eternal life to everyone who eats it.  I am the living bread that came down out of heaven.  
Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live."

Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant.  "How can this man give us
his flesh to eat?" they asked.  

So Jesus said again,
"I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his
blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.  But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood
have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day.  For my flesh is the true food, and my blood
is the true drink.  All who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them.  I live by the
power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because
of me.  I am the true bread from heaven.  Anyone who eats this bread will live forever and not die
as your ancestors did, even though they ate the manna."  
Jesus has told them six ways from sunshine that he was sent by the Father and he is the promise of salvation.   Of
course, Jesus is not speaking of cannibalism when he is instructing that one must eat of his flesh and drink of his blood.
He is using that as an extreme metaphor to believe in him
completely.  And, of course, many believers observe the act of
of communion in remembrance of Christ and as a symbolism of God's promise.
"As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf
of bread and asked God's blessing on it.  Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying,
"Take it and
eat it, for this my body."
 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it.  He gave it to them and said, "Each of
you drink from it, for this is my blood, which seals the covenant between God and his people.  It is poured out to forgive
the sins of many."
 Matthew 26:26-28
I think the lesson above pretty much tells it all.  Jesus had a myriad of chances to spell out any detailed list of
requirements to be met and duties to be performed.  He had plenty of time to explain to the gathered masses if they
needed to consult with anyone, carry anything, say anything in particular, pray differently, but He did not.  He merely
reiterated what He had already told them.  The same message told straight up and told in a metaphor.  But many still did
not believe. The mere lack of complicated acts and rituals coupled with the seemingly simple message heard made it
appear unbelievable to them!  And, unfortunately that disbelief continues today in many faiths.

It even took his own Twelve Disciples a bit of time to completely understand and accept what Jesus was telling them.  
But, Jesus made sure they eventually did understand and it is apparent with Peter's final remark.
John 6:60-69
"Even his disciples said, "This is very hard to understand.  How can anyone accept it?"  

Jesus knew within himself that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them,
"Does this
offend you?  Then what will you think if you see me, the Son of Man, return to heaven again? It is
the Spirit who gives eternal life.  Human effort accomplishes nothing.  And the very words I have
spoken to you are spirit and life.  But some of you don't believe me.  
(For Jesus knew from the
beginning who didn't believe, and who knew who would betray him.)  Then he said,
"That is what I
meant when I said that people can't come to me unless the Father brings them to me."

At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.  Then Jesus turned to the
Twelve and asked,
"Are you going to leave, too?"

Simon Peter replied, "Lord, to whom would we go?  You alone have the words that give eternal
life. We believe them, and we know you are the Holy One of God."
Plans and Preparations

In our lives we make a lot of plans and preparations.  
Among many things, we plan vacations, backyard bbq's,
disaster plans, burial arrangements, college and
retirement funds.  All of which are important plans to
have for our earthly lives.  But we, as Jesus instructed
us in John 6:27, need to put our energy into insuring our
eternal plan.  The steps to salvation are far less than
any other planning you've done in your life.  It's not a
complicated series of tasks to complete.
John 14:6 records Christ's words:
"I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one
can come to the Father except through me."

~John 14:6
And the Apostle Paul states this in the Book of Romans:
"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.  It is the power of God at work, saving
everyone who believes - Jews first and also Gentiles.  This Good News tells us how God makes us
right in his sight.  This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.  As The Scriptures say, "It is
through faith that a righteous person has life."
~Romans 1:16-17
My presentation is not intended to be a comprehensive study of the subject of salvation.  I am aware of a variety of
salvation doctrines within the multitude of religions and do not make an attempt to exhaust all teachings.  However, what
I have presented are certain Scripture and notes from my own personal studies which reflect my belief of complete
salvation through Christ.  It is my hope that some of what you've read will pique your interest to either re-evaluate your
current belief system or as a new believer to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior and receive the gift of
your eternal home in heaven.  
Sola fide!

Blessings to all ~
All Scripture quoted is from the New Living Translation version, unless otherwise noted.
But you must not forget, dear friends, that a
day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and
a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord
isn't really being slow about his promise to
return, as some people think.  No, he is
being patient for your sake.  He does not
want anyone to perish, so he is giving more
time for everyone to repent.
2 Peter 3:9
Renee'
 
 
 
"One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, "So you're the
Messiah, are you?  Prove it by saving yourself - and us, too,
while you're at it!"

But the other criminal protested, "Don't you fear God even when
you are dying?  We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this
man hasn't done anything."  Then he said, "Jesus, remember
me when you come into your Kingdom."

And Jesus replied,
"I assure you, today you will be with me in
paradise."
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold,
now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2
King James Version
"And what a difference between our sin and God's generous
many through his sin. But this other man, Jesus Christ,
brought forgiveness to many through God's bountiful
gift."
~Romans 5:15
"For Adam's sin led to condemnation, but we have the free
gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of
many sins."
~Romans 5:16b
"He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but
because of his mercy."
~Titus 3:5a