I have heard many people imply, "If Jesus were to come back today and you haven't repented of this sin, we won't go to heaven." However, that's not what I read in the Bible. The Bible says that he Holy Spirit is a guarantee that we're going to heaven and that we were granted forgiveness for all our sins. I thought that was the good news! Even though we have an obligation to live according to Jesus' teachings in order to remain saved, will we be rejected for heaven if Jesus comes back before we've repented of every sin or bad attitude that we're aware of? -- Vivian Swinson (New York)

That's not what I read in the Word, either. Is it even possible to know of and repent of every sin we have committed? That seems to assume a lot. It seems highly likely to me that we will never be in a state of perfection (clear conscience or not) down on this earth. Just as a father or mother is in a relationship with a child, regardless of the "goodness" of the child's performance, so too our heavenly father is in continual relationship with his children. Beware the destructive attitude that can bring false guilt and self-focused anxiety into our lives.

As for the Spirit being a guarantee, yes, it is--and yet we must not "grieve" or "quench" it. A personal relationship is at stake: our relationship with God. Certainly we must do all we can to walk the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:24), but I agree with you that salvation is not contingent on some state of perfection.

I tried hard to address this in my book James, Peter, John, Jude (IPI, 2006). I have often heard Hebrews 10:26 misused, to imply that unless you have totally broken from your sinful habits, Jesus' blood will not cover you. This is false doctrine. (Hebrews--let's respect its context--deals with those who are giving up on Jesus altogether.) Grace can always be abused--that is its nature--yet God never meant for us to remain in a perpetual state of suspense regarding our salvation. On the other hand, do not forget Psalm 101:2! As the song says, "I wanna be ready, ready when Jesus comes."

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