ROSS HELGETON – Faith & Reflection
The March issue of “Christianity Today” contained an American survey (it’s always harder to find Canadian statistics) conducted by Lifeway Research. It asked the question, “If I were to die today, do I know for sure that I would go to heaven?”
Of those aged 65-plus, 54 per cent responded affirmatively; of those aged 18 to 29, only 36 per cent responded with a yes.
The survey went on to say that while this used to be a question asked frequently by pastors and evangelists, it’s no longer common, at all.
In fact, the survey revealed that 11 per cent of those polled said they may ponder this matter about once a year; 46 per cent said that they give it no consideration, at all.
Arguably, there may be more subtle ways to discover where people are at spiritually than employing this rather personal interrogative.
Nevertheless, the matter should be considered. How we answer the question has personal and powerful implications. Let me share just one example.
For 20 years, we’ve visited a member of a church I formerly pastored. It’s always a refreshing and uplifting time for us. This year, due to her having what appeared to be a bad cold and flu, we weren’t able to enjoy our annual camaraderie.
I phoned her two weeks ago hoping to hear that she was feeling better. Instead, she informed me that she has aggressive lung cancer and there is very little time left.
We talked about the future and how she thought and felt about that. Immediately, her tone of voice changed from somber to cheerful. She said, “Oh, pastor! (she refuses to call me by my first name. though I have not officially been her pastor for two decades), I am so eager to go home! I will see my Lord and my husband. I just hope that it will not be too much longer and that I will leave with faith in my heart and praise on my lips!”
The initial sadness I’d felt dissipated as in simple faith, she claimed Christ’s promises! She knows with certainty that if she were to die today, she would go to heaven.
Someone said to me once, “I suppose that having faith in Jesus must make some difference.” My reply was, “My faith in Christ does not makes some difference — it makes all the difference!”
Oh, by the way … I have a question for you. If you were to die today, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?
“I am going away to prepare a place for you, I will come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am.” (John 14:3) — Jesus.
Pastor Ross Helgeton is the senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.