If I Ask Jesus to Be My Lord and Savior, Will I Go to Heaven?

Corey StumneBy Corey Stumne8 Minutes

“If I ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, will I go to heaven?”

It’s a fair question, one that’s asked often from people concerned of things beyond the here and now. Various churches and pastors would surely answer differently. Some would emphatically say “yes”, noting we are saved by grace through the working of our faith. Some would say “no”, or at least “not yet”, pointing to verses like Acts 2:38 that suggest more is required after the initial step of faith.

Being a youth pastor, I have teenagers ask me variations of this question all the time. They want to know that when they lay down night, they can sleep soundly with the assurance they’re destined for a better place. Hell is a horrifying thought to them, and surely some don’t believe it exists. But they believe in heaven, or at least they want to believe in heaven, and they want to be confident they’re aimed in that direction. They’ve heard from various places that the key is Jesus. Sometimes you have to say a prayer or “ask him into your heart.” Unsure exactly what that means, they often turn to me.

My answer sometimes catches them off-guard.

“If I ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, will I go to heaven?”

My eyes narrow as a grin crawls across my face. “Is that the question you really want to ask?”

I rarely feed students cookie-cutter answers from the Bible. I love answering their questions with more questions because it causes them to dig and find the answer themselves. I’m hopeful this helps their faith become their own rather than it simply being borrowed from mine.

If my retorted question is good enough, it pushes their original question off the table to make room for something better, something deeper, something holier.

Let’s ask the same question but change the context: If I asked my girlfriend to be my wife, would I get married?

Don’t blow by this question. Sit on it for a second and think. If I asked my girlfriend to be my wife, would I get married?

Luckily for us, I did just that about a decade ago.

On Black Friday in 2012 I took my lovely girlfriend, Meghin, out for a drive. I told her we were going on a surprise date, and it wouldn’t be a big deal. She said she believed me but still made it a point to get her nails professionally done that morning because she sensed the big day approaching.

I took her to the church camp I grew up going to right outside of St. Louis and showed her all the places where I formed incredible spiritual memories that shaped me into the person I was that day. The tour of camp ended on top of Inspiration Point, a 100-foot-tall rocky cliff overlooking a chilly valley painted in the striking colors autumn provides. We watched the sun set together, drank hot chocolate, and danced. During her favorite song, I got down on one knee and asked if she would be my wife. She said yes, and I slid the ring onto her finger, shellacked nails ready for pictures.

Great story, right?

What do you think happened after that? Do you think we got married? I did ask her to be my wife, after all.

Imagine what would happen if, after the amazing afternoon at the camp, I walked her back to the car and didn’t talk to her. And I called an Uber and drove home separately from her. Imagine if, from that day on, I stopped pursuing her, stopped talking to her, stopped surprising her with gifts, stopped giving her words of affirmation, and stopped spending time with her.

People would say I didn’t really love her.

“It’s okay,” I would respond. “We’re getting married.”

That’s not how it works, is it? Anybody with common sense understands in order to be happy after your wedding day you have to be actively pouring into your relationship before the wedding. After all, weddings aren’t supposed to fill us with meaning and purpose; that’s the job of the person standing next to you at the wedding.

The point of my marriage isn’t my wedding; it’s my relationship with Meghin.

And the point of my faith isn’t going to heaven; it’s my relationship with Jesus.

Yes, heaven is vital in the equation. I long for heaven as much as anyone. But how sad would it be for me to live my whole life focused on a blissful event in the future and miss being in an intimate relationship and walking with the One that makes it all possible?

If you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, will you go to heaven? Sure, as long you’re committing to a relationship of obedience and discipleship after your initial interaction with him and you dedicate the rest of your life to him as a living sacrifice in the spirit of Romans 12.

But please understand this: If you’re using Jesus to get to heaven, you don’t love Jesus. You only love what he offers you.

Jesus asks you to follow him and be in a relationship with him. But it’s not so you can go to heaven. In fact, Jesus rarely talks about us going to heaven one day. No, Jesus asks you to follow him not so you can go to heaven but so you can bring heaven on earth, so you can push forth his kingdom and be involved in the things Jesus is involved in. If you do, one day heaven will be your destination, not necessarily your reward. Jesus is your reward. Heaven is a place for you to simply be with Jesus, undisturbed and unaffected by sin.

Praise be to God we have a Savior who offers us so much, forgives us so easily, and loves us so gently. May the Holy Spirit open the eyes of your heart to see the true prize Jesus is.

Heaven is our destination, but Jesus is our reward both now and into eternity.