Adapted from Complete Bible Answer Book by Hank Hanegraaff. 

No one gets out of this world alive, so this is beyond a doubt the most important question you can ever ask yourself! In fact, the Bible was written, “so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

First, according to Scripture, you need to realize that you are a sinner. If you do not realize you are a sinner, you will not recognize your need for a savior. The Bible says we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Furthermore, you must repent of your sins. Repentance is an old English word that describes a willingness to turn from our sin toward Jesus Christ. It literally means a complete U-turn on the road of life—a change of heart and a change of mind. It means that you are willing to follow Jesus and to receive him as your Savior and Lord. Jesus said, “repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15).

Finally, to demonstrate true belief means to be willing to receive.To truly receive is to trust in and depend on Jesus Christ alone to be the Lord of our lives here and now and our Savior for all eternity. It takes more than knowledge (the devil knows about Jesus and trembles). It takes more than agreement that the knowledge we have is accurate (the devil agrees that Jesus is Lord). What it takes is to trust in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. The requirements for eternal life are based not on what you can do but on what Jesus Christ has done. He stands ready to exchange his perfection for your imperfection.

According to Jesus Christ, those who realize they are sinners, repent of their sins, and receive him as Savior and Lord are “born again” (John 3:3)—not physically, but spiritually. The reality of our salvation is not dependant on our feelings but rather on the promise of the Savior who says: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

See also Hank Hanegraaff, “Does your relationship with God make you sure you will go to heaven when you die?” pamphlet, available through Christian Research Institute.

For further study, see John MacArthur, Hard to Believe:The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003).

“For God so loved the world that he gave
his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16